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KARLA WALKER 

GO TO HELL OR ATLANTA, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST

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One of the exhibitions recommended on the list for the fine art project, "Altered Spaces", I chose to go and see "Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever comes first.", by artist Karla Walker. The above image is of one of the works which stood out to me most from this exhibition, a huge charcoal triptych entitles "40 Acres of Mules", which hung alone on one wall of the room. The image is full of violence and energy, distorted characters and explicit nudity. A confederate flag flies, a stylised, stereotyped figure of a nude African American Woman rides the figure of a white man on all fours, himself atop a black woman also on all fours. This level of complex metaphorical imagery runs through the whole, huge piece. In terms of the Altered spaces project, it is an example of an artist creating a space or scene which doesn't just represent one specific moment in history, but expresses so much more than that. In this piece Walker explores a period of time, it's effect on the present and future, the oppression and tragedy which has defined much of African American experience since the civil war and much more. It would be hugely interesting to find out where Karla sourced the inspiration for each of her figures in this piece whether she worked from images, historical reports, stories or her own mind.

© Grace Black, all rights reserved