Kara Walker — The Truth Telling Artist
*P.S. — I love her work. No really. I LOVE her work.
Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, in 1969. She received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. The artist is best known for exploring the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality through her iconic, silhouetted figures. Walker unleashes the traditionally proper Victorian medium of the silhouette directly onto the walls of the gallery, creating a theatrical space in which her unruly cut-paper characters fornicate and inflict violence on one another. In works like “Darkytown Rebellion” (2000), the artist uses overhead projectors to throw colored light onto the ceiling, walls, and floor of the exhibition space; the lights cast a shadow of the viewer’s body onto the walls, where it mingles with Walker’s black-paper figures and landscapes. With one foot in the historical realism of slavery and the other in the fantastical space of the romance novel, Walker’s nightmarish fictions simultaneously seduce and implicate the audience. Walker’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. A 1997 recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award, Walker was the United States representative to the 2002 Bienal de São Paulo. Walker currently lives in New York, where she is on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University. (Biography from PBS Art 21)
Dr. Mae C. Jemison — Space Cadette
“When I’m asked about the relevance to Black people of what I do, I take that as an affront. It presupposes that Black people have never been involved in exploring the heavens, but this is not so. Ancient African empires — Mali, Songhai, Egypt — had scientists, astronomers. The fact is that space and its resources belong to all of us, not to any one group” — Dr. Jemison (source here)
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations…If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out … You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.” — Dr. Jemison (source here)
The video above is Dr. Jemison’s 2002 TEDTalk on teaching arts and sciences together. Oh my goodness — she is incredible! Really — watch this. Seriously. She really is an artist AND a scientist.
Dr. Jemison reiced her medical degree from Cornell and practices in several countries. Dr. Jemison was the first African-American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program in 1987. On September 12, 1992, Jemision flew into space with six other astronauts on the Endeavor.
Zora Neale Hurston: Author
“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How canany deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” –Zora Neale Hurston (source here)
Born in Alabama on January 7, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston spent her early adulthood studying at various universities and collecting folklore from the South, the Caribbean and Latin America. She published her findings in Mules and Men. Hurston was a fixture of the Harlem Renaissance, rubbing shoulders with many of its famous writers. In 1937, she published her masterwork of fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston died in Florida in 1960.