The caricatured and stylized figures in Walker's provocative tableaux evoke racial stereotypes in acts that are perplexing, violent, and suggestive. The zones of shameful and uncomfortable relationships-both literal and fantastic-force the viewer to consider issues of race and sexuality....
The caricatured and stylized figures in Walker's provocative tableaux evoke racial stereotypes in acts that are perplexing, violent, and suggestive. The zones of shameful and uncomfortable relationships-both literal and fantastic-force the viewer to consider issues of race and sexuality. Although the figures are detailed, their forms and the narrative remain essentially ambiguous. Walker intends her images to be "Rorschach-esque," inviting individual viewpoints, experiences, and ideas to be prompted by the relationships she designs. Walker expands upon the traditional silhouette, creating figures and narratives that confront unsettling and oppressive relationships between individuals, genders, and races. For the artist, the silhouette was a near-perfect solution to her effort to "try and uncover the often subtle and uncomfortable ways racism, and racist and sexist stereotypes, influence and script our everyday lives." In The Rich Soil Down There, every black figure seems smothered by either a white figure or a white substance. Although some of the dress evokes the antebellum South, the artist rejects what she sees as the South's continued longing for a romanticized past: "This longing retains all of its former power in the form of such dubious cultural manifestations as romance novels, pornographic fantasies, . . . and collectible figurines." This work both complicates our view of history and helps to dispel such fantasies.
The artist; 2005, with Brent Sikkema Gallery, New York; purchased by MFA, Boston, June 22, 2005.
Museum purchase with funds donated by members of the 2004–2005 Contemporary Art Visiting Committee: Audrey and Jim Foster, Barbara Lee Endowment for Contemporary Art by Women, Robert and Jane Burke, Henry and Lois Foster Contemporary Purchase Fund, Ann and Graham Gund, Elizabeth and Woody Ives, Joyce and Edward Linde, JoAnn McGrath, Davis and Carol Noble, John and Amy Berylson, Lorraine and Alan Bressler, Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser, Robert and Esta Epstein, The Fine Family Foundation, Sandra and Gerald Fineberg, Eloise and Arthur Hodges, Ellen and Robert Jaffe, Richard and Nancy Lubin, Susan W. Paine, Elizabeth and Samuel Thorne, Gail and Ernst von Metzsch, Stephen and Dorothy Weber, Rhonda and Michael Zinner, Karin and David Chamberlain, Marlene and David Persky, Ann Beha and Robert Radloff, Jan Colombi and Jay Reeg, Marcia Kamentsky, Alexandra and Max Metral, Joan Margot Smith, Marvin and Ann Collier, Jerry Scally, Martin and Deborah Hale, Katherine R. Kirk, Allison D. Salke, Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Robert and Bettye Freeman, Joan and Michael Salke, and Lois B. Torf
Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co.