“Emancipation Jubilee” at the Crocker Art Museum

DSC_0226 cropSACRAMENTO – The artwork of Kara Walker will provide the backdrop for a unique world record attempt this weekend in observance of significant turning point in African American–and American–history.

“Emancipation Jubilee” will take place at the Crocker Art Museum at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 22. To mark the opening of the new exhibit, “Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power,” the Crocker will attempt to set the world record for the largest ever group reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. The attempt will be held on the very date President Abraham Lincoln introduced the landmark document to Congress, 150 years ago.

Walker’s art will be on display locally September 22-January 5, 2014. Named one of “Time” magazine’s most influential people, the Stockton-born Walker creates art about the exchange of power and attempts to withhold power from others. As an African American woman who was raised in the South, Walker is keenly aware of the paradoxes of race in contemporary society. In response, she has made slavery and its ongoing impact the primary subject of her critique of power, freely mingling romance for the antebellum era with slavery’s bitter realities. Her characters are realized as silhouettes that unwittingly enact her invented tales of plantation life. Intentionally non-linear storytelling and beautifully rendered figures turn viewers’ expectations on end in this exhibition.

Featuring 60 works drawn from the collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the exhibition includes wall paintings, works on paper, and recent work in new media. All showcase the artist’s thought-provoking approach to graphic design and content. Her use of the silhouette is especially novel, deployed in ways that confront how we shape personal identity but flatten the complex nature of others. Influenced by historical research, literary sources, and popular culture, Walker’s humor and wit come forth in unexpected juxtapositions. As race remains one of the most difficult conversations to have in America, this exhibition is especially timely amid the discourse on race today, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The local reading is scheduled to begin at 12 noon at the museum. Those who participate in the record attempt will receive free admission to view the exhibition. The Crocker Art Museum is located at 216 O Street. For more information, call (916) 808-7000 or visit crockerartmuseum.org.

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By Genoa Barrows

OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer