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Keys to the Coop

Black silhouette of a female figure running after a headless chicken, its head in one hand and a key in the other.

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  • Black silhouette of a female figure running after a headless chicken, its head in one hand and a key in the other.

Date:

1997

Artist:

Kara Walker
American, born 1969

About this artwork

Kara Walker’s use of silhouettes is inspired by the folk tradition commonly practiced by “proper ladies,” particularly during the years leading up to the Civil War. By loading her images with sexual content, mythological undertones, and voodoo symbolism, Walker subverts the gentle tradition by grafting onto it her contemporary point of view that the slave girl uses her sexuality as the key to her release: the key to the chicken coop that she dangles from her finger implies this. Like her masters over her, she holds the freedom of this chicken in the palm of her hand.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Kara Walker

Title

Keys to the Coop

Origin

United States

Date

1997

Medium

Linocut on white wove paper

Dimensions

1,175 x 1,538 mm

Credit Line

Restricted gift of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Sternberg

Reference Number

1997.433

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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