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Unit 2 - Contexts
Reflection about Kara Walker

Walker is best known for her panoramic friezes of cut-paper silhouettes, usually black figures against a white wall, which address the history of American slavery and racism through violent and unsettling imagery.

The works of Afro-American artist Kara Walker critically and ironically address questions of history and memory, of ethnic, gender and cultural identity. Walker thus at first glance seems old-fashioned but she has made extremely topical once more: silhouettes cut out of black paper. It is a medium that permits a high degree of abstraction while simultaneously emphasising a work’s representational nature. By eschewing colour, shape and internal structuring, the artist limits herself to the outlines created by the contrast between the black surface between the two in order to extract information from the images.

In my artistic endeavours, I frequently employ the technique of laser engraving as a means of creative expression. Presently, I contemplate a departure from excessive reliance on laser engraving graphics to depict my narrative. Instead, I entertain the notion of employing silhouettes representing human figures engaged in various activities, thereby exploring diverse combinations to enhance the visual depth and complexity of the composition.

But after the Bargehouse show, I figured out that I don't have to give up the Laster Cutter completely, maybe I can carry on with the Summer Show. I think about adding a laser engraving process to the burned matches, so that the material that originally contains the meaning of destruction and death will have a storyline. Just like Kara Walker, blurring the specific content of the graphics, using a black outline, and I think the pure black graphics are more intuitive for the audience.As a reference for graphics, I plan to look for some dance images and observe their movements, because dancers' movements have a large range and strong narrative, which has a strong reference value for black graphics.


Kara Walker, A Work on Progress, 1998. Cut paper on wall, 69 x 80 in. (175.3 x 203.2 cm). Collection of Judie and Howard Ganek

Kara Walker, ‘Study for White Riot’, 1997, paper collage on paperboard. Photo: Christie’s


I will cut the MDF with laser engraving according to the sketches, creating black figures and combining them with burnt wood to create new works of art. At present, according to the sketches, the effect is not bad, but we will continue to create more "little black men" for action attempts.



Walker, K., Kim, C. and Smith, Z. (2019) Kara Walker: Fons Americanus. London: Tate Publishing. 

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