Activity Group 4: A Subtlety and We the People

Comparative Reflection

During the summer of 2013, Kara Walker produced "A Subtlety", a site-specific sculpture project in the former Domino’s Sugar factory located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

At this same time, artist Danh Vo showed "We the People", a large sculpture project installed around City Hall’s public park.

Given the work you have done in previous activities, we invite you to explore connections between these two projects and continue thinking through our guiding question: how is history represented?

As a starting point, reflect on the following questions:

1. What is liberty? Take a few moments to generate some ideas/associations with this concept.

2. How does Walker’s "A Subtlety" continue working with the silhouette and with the history of slavery in the United States?

3. Given that Walker often works with female figures, how does "A Subtlety," in particular, both continue some of the artist’s patterns and depart from them? How does Walker use the colors of black and white? Why do you think she does so?

4. How does Walker's intervention ask us to rethink the more traditional narratives about the United States as a country of freedom and democracy?

5. Danh Vo’s "We the People" also focuses on a female body, that of the Statue of Liberty. How does Vo represent her figure in this public artwork? Why do you think he does so?

6. "In We the People" how does Vo's intervention ask us to rethink the more traditional narratives about the United States as a country of freedom and democracy?

7. How does Vo’s artwork connect to the thinking you have done in response to Walker’s various artworks?

We hope these questions will help start an ongoing process of inquiry, and we encourage you to continue researching and thinking about Walker’s art practice, about art’s relationships to history, and how artists' use of visual forms and view points allow us to approach historical narratives anew.


Reading Resources: Kara Walker was produced by Wendy Tronrud (A. R. T. Education Consultant) in collaboration with Art Resources Transfer (A.R.T.) in 2019-20.

A.R.T. acknowledges the invaluable generosity, assistance, and enthusiasm of all who contributed to Reading Resources production:

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

We also thank:
National Endowment for the Arts
H.W. Wilson Foundation
Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Mackenzie Salisbury
A.R.T. Board of Directors
A.R.T. Advisory Board
and most specially, Kara Walker.

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Copyright © Art Resources Transfer, Inc 2020.

All images are protected under copyright by the original rights holders.

A.R.T. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

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