Anything but Civil: Kara Walker's Vision of the Old South
February 26–August 10, 2014
Galleries 234 and 235

This exhibition presents work by Kara Walker, an artist internationally renowned for her black-paper, cut-out silhouettes of the antebellum South. Walker draws on history to create a fictional world that compels her audience to examine the collective memory of the nation's dark past rooted in slavery, and also to consider the present in those terms.

Walker's 2005 print portfolio, Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), is the focal point of this exhibition. The portfolio's fifteen large-scale prints, two of which were on view at the Museum in a 2012 exhibition of the same name, feature her iconic silhouettes printed over dramatically enlarged reproductions from Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War, a compilation of news reports about the war first published in 1866, the year after the Civil War ended. This series demonstrates the many ways Walker's work "frames" the Civil War. The portfolio layers Walker's own imaginative twist over historical events and forcefully imposes new perspectives on a brutal past.

Anything but Civil is possible due to the generosity of Alison and John Ferring, who have offered the portfolio to the Museum as a promised gift. The exhibition is co-curated by Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs; Kimberly Jacobs, 2013-14 Romare Bearden Fellow; and Leah Chizek, research assistant in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.