Sunday, January 06, 2008

After the Deluge by Kara Walker

I'll be in Manhattan for the AWP conference at the end of the month, and one of the things I'm excited about is hearing John Irving speak, the other is heading across town to see the Kara Walker exhibit at the Whitney. This book is subtitled "A Visual Essay" and is the artist's response to Hurricana Katrina (and more specifically to the media depiction of African Americans affected by Katrina). It collects art by Walker (who is most famous for creating Victorian silhouettes that depict grotesque Southern plantation/slavery/folk lore images), photos of post-Katrina, and other historical art works, some of which depict floods and others which depict less obvious connections. In simplest terms, the book creates a narrative of the depiction of African Americans in art, but that's a reduction--it also has to do with disaster, with nature, many things... I've always been intrigued by visual artists and if I could draw I would (well, I do, just not for public consumption) and so I'm really into the idea of a visual anthology/visual essay that I could compile without having to include my own visual art. I might include words, but sometimes as a writer you get really tired of words and the challenge of having a reader put together thought based largely on a title, a short introduction, and a bunch of visuals lined up, strikes me as really interesting. Does anyone know of other books like this? I'm not knowledgeable in the visual art field so perhaps it's a whole genre I've missed...

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