Huffpost Arts

Women's History Month Artists: Celebrating WHM With Kara Walker As The Seven Of Diamonds

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HuffPost Arts&Culture is celebrating Women's History Month with the help of our favorite artists -- female artists, of course. Every day of March we're rolling out a new key player in the art world with a playing card... Get it? Print them out for your own amazing (although probably a bit flimsy) card deck or use them to stay fresh on your favorite women in art.

SEVEN OF DIAMONDS

kara walker

WHO: Kara Walker

WHAT: Walker is known for her cartoonish paper-cut silhouettes exploring narratives of race, gender, desire, violence, racial stereotypes and shame. Her “magic-lantern” projections depict dark scenarios including rape, lynchings and slavery via absurdly cartoonish forms, yielding shocking results. Of her cutting works, Walker explained: "I was really searching for a format to sort of encapsulate, to simplify complicated things...And some of it spoke to me as: ‘it's a medium...historically, it's a craft...and it's very middle-class.'"

WHERE: Get a feel for Walker's artworks in her segment on Art21's "Stories" episode.

WHY: Walker, who won a MacArthur Grant at only 28 years old, continues to stir controversy with her powerful works. A drawing depicting oral sex between a black woman and white man was hidden by a cloth at the Newark Public Library until last December. Walker is not one to shy away from controversy, responding: "The promise of any artwork is that it can hold us—viewer and maker—in a conflicted or contestable space, without real world injury or loss."

See more of our playing cards in the slideshow below:

  • Jeanne-Claude
    Together with her lover and partner Christo, Jeanne created ephemeral installations that melded urban planning, architecture, engineering, performance and sculpture. The husband-and-wife team are famed for their magical and massive-scale projects, from wrapping a valley of the Rocky Mountains with 14,000 square meters of cloth to installing bubble-gum pink skirts to 11 islands in Miami's Biscayne Bay. Jeanne-Claude passed away in 2009 at 74 years old, but we celebrate her today.
  • Marilyn Minter
    Minter's hyperrealistic paintings ooze with glamor, closeness and desire, turning a stiletto splashing in the rain or a mysterious tongue pressed up against a glass pane into a precise moment of visual ecstasy.
  • Tracey Emin
    Emin made waves with her controversial work "My Bed" (1999), an installation showcasing a mattress with rumpled sheets hosting scattered condoms and blood-stained undies. The Young British Artist was nominated for a Turner Prize for the piece that year.
  • Eva & Adele
    Eva & Adele are a living museum piece, involved in a lifelong partnership and performance piece that involves the married couple eating the same food, dressing exactly the same, and spending every day together since they can remember.
  • Judy Chicago
    Chicago's most famed work is "The Dinner Party," a large table with 39 place settings, each honoring a historical female who kicked ass, from activists to goddesses. The multimedia artist also works intimately with "macho" art forms like pyrotechnics and boat building, minimalist painting and colorful textiles. For this reason, she's our King of Hearts.
  • Marlene Dumas
    The South African artist paints melting close-ups of pale forms, almost human but not quite. Her canvasses oscillate between sexuality and violence, lightness and darkness, birth and death, making them as immediate to feel as they are impossible to forget.
  • Artemisia Gentileschi
    Gentileschi created dramatic, fierce and incredibly masterful Baroque paintings in the era following Caravaggio. Most well-known for "Judith Slaying Holofernes" (1614), Gentileschi often portrayed strong and suffering women.
  • Mickalene Thomas
    Thomas paints popping portraits of black women, incorporating fashion, accessories, makeup and domestic interiors into their collaged selves. With her sexual yet powerful portrayals of naked women, Thomas, a queer artist, subverts the trope of the "male gaze," suggesting women too can gain pleasure from the female nude form.
  • Cindy Sherman
    The photogenic chameleon serves as model and photographer in her artworks, which capture the many (and yet still limited) roles women often play in film and life. From film noir femme fatales to aging socialites, Sherman's many masks show the fluid nature of identity itself.
  • Betye Saar
    The 87-year-old artist is known for her assemblages incorporating imagery from her heritage (African, Native American, Irish and Creole) as well as stereotypical African-American figures including Aunt Jemima, Uncle Tom and Little Black Sambo. Her later works explore the relationship between the technological and the mystical, incorporating Voodoo references, amulets and computer chips in her collaged works.
  • Carolee Schneemann
    Schneemann is a multi-disciplinary artist whose performance pieces exploded taboos surrounding sexuality, gender and the body. One of her most famous pieces is an erotic rite entitled "Meat Joy," celebrating flesh of all kinds -- including raw fish, chickens, sausages, wet paint, transparent plastic and paper. Fluctuating between the erotic, playful and grotesque, the performance merged the sacred and the profane in a revolutionary fashion.
  • Shirin Neshat
    Neshat moved to California during the Iranian revolution and enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she began working with film, photography and video to address themes of literature, politics, feminism and identity. Her 2012 exhibition, "Book of Kings," placed 11th-century Persian poetry on black-and-white images of young Arab protesters, creating a long-spanning narrative of identity, creativity and dissent.
  • Eva Hesse
    Hesse, a Jewish artist who escaped from Nazi Germany as a child, is known for her post-minimalist tactile forms made from aging, organic fiberglass. Her repetitive sculptures were deceptively simple and yet comedic, erotic and just on the verge of decay.
  • Jay DeFeo
    The Bay Area Beat generation artist is most well-known for "The Rose," an epic multimedia painting that took eight years to create and weighs a whopping 2,300 pounds. DeFeo was evicted from her apartment when she was working on the piece, and according to The New York Times, "the only way to move it was to cut out part of the building’s front wall and extract the painting with a forklift." (Way to go out with a bang!)
  • Martha Rosler
    Rosler has explored the everyday and public spheres since the 1960s, whether examining the semiotics of the kitchen, creating postmodern photography mashups addressing women and domesticity, or throwing the most massive, artsy garage sale ever.

Around the Web

Kara Walker | Main | Home Page browse

Kara Walker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kara Walker | Art21 | PBS

Kara Walker News - The New York Times

Kara Walker's Controversial Drawing Of Slave Having Sex Returns ...

Kara Walker: Rise Up Ye Mighty Race! | The Art Institute of Chicago

Kara Walker | Facebook

Kara Walker Artwork Censored at Newark Library - News - News ...