To commemorate Drew Gilpin Faust’s inauguration as the first woman president of Harvard University, the Art Museums present Kara Walker’s provocative 2005 series Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated). The fifteen large-scale prints combine lithographic reproductions from the 1866 publication Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War with Walker’s characteristically haunting silhouettes screen-printed over them. By eclipsing the images from the journal with black figures engaged in often inscrutable acts, the artist obscures, disrupts, and augments the illustrative function of these seemingly objective historical documents. In doing so, Walker suggests that the roots of racism in the United States were hardly eradicated with the abolition of slavery. The effect is a compelling visual exploration of race, slavery, gender, and politics against the backdrop of the War Between the States.
Throughout the run of the exhibition, Harvard faculty from various disciplines will lead afternoon conversations in the gallery inspired by questions raised by Walker’s work.
Organized by Susan Dackerman, Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints.