Kara Walker: Back of Hand 

Opening: Thursday, Feb 15, 2024 5 – 8 pm
Thursday, Feb 15 – May 18, 2024

61 W. Superior St, Chicago, IL 60654

Join us for the opening of the exhibition Kara Walker: Back of Hand. Guests are invited to read and contemplate Walker’s work during a reception from 5-7 PM, to be followed by a talk and Q&A by curator Katie Geha and a reading by poet and artist Krista Franklin.

The Poetry Foundation’s presentation of Kara Walker: Back of Hand appropriately foregrounds Walker’s long-term engagement with language and text. The exhibition features 2015 Book, a series of 11 typewritten pages with ink and watercolor illustrations, and two large-scale drawings, The Ballad of How We Got Here and Feast of Famine. Completed in 2021, this will be the first time these works are shown in Chicago.

The mural-like compositions present a disorienting tableau of inked collaged forms surrounded by swirling forms of handwritten text. Words and sentence fragments jump out from the deluge, appearing like excerpts from a larger, ongoing conversation around power and history. In The Ballad of How We Got Here and Feast of Famine, these torrential narratives unfold as visual poems, yielding a multiplicity of parallel readings.

New York-based artist Kara Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence. Her work can be found in museums and public collections throughout the United States and Europe including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London; the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI), Rome; and Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt.

This exhibition comes to the Poetry Foundation from the Atheneum, part of University of Georgia’s (UGA) Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens, Georgia. The exhibition is curated by Katie Geha and organized by Katherine Litwin and Fred Sasaki.

Image Credit: Kara Walker, BOH, 2021