Kara Walker, a painter’s daughter, was born in Stockton, California in 1969, and knew she wanted to become an artist as early as age three. At the age of 13 her family moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia where her father accepted a position at Georgia State University. Unlike the multicultural environment of California, Stone Mountain still held Klu Klux Klan rallies. Confused by her new environment, Walker escaped to the local library, where narratives of the South helped clarify the customs and traditions of her new home.

Directly out of graduate school Kara Walker became famous with her wall-sized paper cut silhouettes of figures in period costume set in a simpler time. The silhouettes seem innocent until we notice the content: nightmarish depictions illustrating the history of the American South.

Walker pop-up book 4 (1)

Kara Walker, “Freedom: A Fable,” 1997, bound volume of offset lithographs and five laser-cut, pop-up silhouettes on wove paper, 9 ½ x 8 x ¾ inches (24.1 x 20.3 x 1.9 cm). Photo: Jason Wyche. © Kara Walker

One of Walker’s works, Freedom, A Fable is a short story, illustrated with pop-up versions of her famous silhouettes of racism and gender discrimination. Walker tells the story of a female slave who is granted emancipation but still experiences oppression where she discovers that freedom is indeed just a fable.

Freedom, A Fable is currently on display in at DOMA for Black History Month.