(American, b.1969) is an African American artist who works across many media, exploring controversial themes of race, gender, sexuality, and violence. She is best known for her appropriation of the silhouette
, which she has used in room-sized installations, sculptures, and smaller works on paper
. Born in California, Walker moved to Georgia at the age of 13, when her father—artist Larry Walker
(American, b.1935)—accepted a teaching position at Georgia State University. Walker received her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art, and went on to earn a MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994.
Walker’s work illustrates and overlays racial stereotypes of the past and present; her work not only addresses slavery and racial discrimination in the Antebellum South
, but also raises awareness to the intrinsic bigotry that still exists throughout the United States. At age 28, Walker became the youngest person to accept the MacArthur Foundation Scholarship, an honor that was as prestigious as it was controversial. Many African American artists have spoken out against Walker’s work, most notably Betye Saar
(American, b.1926), who argues that Walker’s use of physiognomic stereotypes further supports such bias, rather than attack it. Even amidst controversy and criticism, Walker’s art has been exhibited at major institutions, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In 2002, Walker was appointed as the United States representative to the São Paolo Biennale in Brazil.