MacArthur Fellow Kara Walker is perhaps best known for her large-scale cut-paper silhouettes exploring issues of race, gender, and power. These nearly life-size silhouettes often present stereotypical characters from the history of slavery in America. Walker has said, “The silhouette says a lot with very little information, but that's also what the stereotype does." And yet the flat caricatural silhouettes are often more evocative and thematically complex for their ambiguity.
Walker’s new commissioned installation in the Modern Wing, Rise Up Ye Mighty Race!, presents monumental silhouettes alongside large graphite drawings and small-framed mixed-media drawings. The title of the show refers to comments made by Barack Obama in his 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, about the challenges of community organizing in Chicago. Walker refers to the work as “a kind of paranoid panorama” exploring the notion of the “race war” in the contemporary imagination.