Kara Walker's instantly recognizable cut-paper silhouettes are visually striking and charged with racial, sexual, and historical tension, commenting on slavery, the Black American experience, and women's place in society. The characters that populate her work are almost cartoonish, the reduction of human beings to pure physiognomy and exaggerated characteristics indicative of persisting racial and gender stereotypes. "Most pieces have to do with exchanges of power, attempts to steal power away from others," she notes of her art.
Walker's work challenges viewers with scenes and characters that are puzzling, bizarre, shocking, and graphic. While at times controversial, her work encourages the type of engagement, interpretation, and dialogue that makes works of art truly socially and politically relevant. In 1997, Walker was the recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship becoming the youngest person at that time to receive the award, and her career has continued to flourish since.