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Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick

From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation


November 5, 2021–January 16, 2022
Galleries 232 and 233
In celebration of the final weekend of this exhibition, Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick will be on view for free through January 16.
Friends of Contemporary Art, Friends of African American Art

Read the press release


"Do you know what it means to have a wound that never heals?"
–Natasha Trethewey


Kara Walker (b.1969, Stockton, CA), renowned for her cut-paper silhouettes, emerged as a prolific and leading contemporary artist in during the mid-90s. Her work incorporates stereotypes to examine the narratives that feed into racism, sexism, sexuality and identity. Drawing on mythology, art history and American history, Walker’s art challenges viewers to take a critical and haunting view of the past while proposing questions around the challenges we continue to face collectively today.

A career-spanning exhibition, Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick features more than 80 works created between 1994 and 2019 from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. The exhibition demonstrates the artist’s facility in diverse media, including her prints, drawings, book arts, sculpture, and film. Her hard-hitting, unorthodox depictions of uncomfortable subjects expose the raw flesh of generational wounds still in the process of healing. Walker’s work invites us to lean into our discomforts, our difficult questions and, perhaps, into our radical imaginations--the place within that holds the possibility to shape a new future.

This exhibition originated at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tenn., and was co-curated by Frist Art Museum executive director and CEO Dr. Susan H. Edwards and poet Ciona Rouse. In addition to her curatorial responsibilities, Rouse composed original poems inspired by Walker’s works, which live inside the exhibition. In Cincinnati, Cut to the Quick will be guest curated by Rouse with Cincinnati Art Museum site curator Trudy Gaba.

Poetry and visual art have long been kindred, and Walker’s art especially displays a poetic sensibility. Several of the Cincinnati Art Museum’s programs during the run of the exhibition, therefore, feature Cincinnati poets and storytellers. A Community Care Space designed by Kara Pierson, founder of Cincinnati’s Lilac & Indigo, accompanies the exhibition. The museum asks that visitors please note this exhibition contains mature content, including depictions of physical and sexual trauma.


Kara Walker art x Pones x Nina Simone

“What does healing look like? How does it move?” Local dance collective Pones explored these questions and more in the Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick exhibition space. In a performance combining original spoken-word poetry and movement choreography by Teisha Murray, Of Nina is an homage to the late American singer-songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone, inspired by narratives in Walker’s artwork related to racism, sexism, sexuality, and identity. Viewer discretion is advised.

Read more about the collaboration in this article from Cincinnati Magazine published on November 24, 2021.

Pones provides artistic opportunities for community growth by creating engaging new ways for audiences to experience dance and performance art.

Portrait of Kara Walker

Kara Walker (B. 1969)

New York-based artist Kara Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide.

Born in Stockton, California in 1969, Walker was raised in Atlanta, Georgia from the age of 13. She studied at the Atlanta College of Art (BFA, 1991) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 1994). She is the recipient of many awards, notably the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Artists Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. In 2012, Walker became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work can be found in numerous museums and public collections including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Gallery, London; the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI), Rome; and Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt.

Walker’s major survey exhibition, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, was organized by The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where it premiered in February 2007 before traveling to ARC/ Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; and the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented the Art Institute of Chicago; Camden Arts Centre in London; and Metropolitan Arts Center (MAC) in Belfast.

In spring 2014, Walker’s first large scale public project, a monumental installation entitled A Subtlety: Or… the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, was on view at the abandoned Domino Sugar refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Commissioned and presented by Creative Time, the project—a massive sugar covered sphinx-like sculpture—responded to and reflected on troubled history of sugar.

Image: Kara Walker. Photo by New York Magazine

The Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick Audio Tour was thoughtfully and creatively produced by the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. We share it here with their permission.

Featured on the tour are Ciona Rouse, poet and guest curator; Susan H. Edwards, Executive Director, and CEO; and Megan Rust, Interpretation Director, both of the Frist Art Museum.

Hear the Audio Tour

The Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick Gallery Guide was thoughtfully and creatively produced by the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. We share it here with their permission.

The guide features the scholarship of Susan H. Edwards, Executive Director and CEO of the Frist Art Museum, and the poetry of Ciona Rouse, the exhibition’s guest curator.

See the Gallery Guide (PDF)

This Family Discussion Guide is intended to help you explore the exhibition. It provides questions and conversation prompts to help you talk about what you are seeing, thinking, and feeling. Grown-ups visiting this exhibition with children are encouraged to discuss the themes captured in Walker’s work.

Get the Family Discussion Guide (PDF)

Kara Walker’s works explores the themes of racial trauma, sexual violence, and enslavement—engaging with this exhibition may bring up painful and complex feelings, especially for those who have experienced trauma or are otherwise connected to the issues presented in Walker’s art. In partnership with The Sexual Assault Center’s Black Client Services Team in Nashville, Tennessee here is a list of resources to offer additional context and support.










We understand that the works in the Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick Exhibition are complex, challenging, and possibly triggering—so we invite you into the Community Care Space. The Community Care Space is a quiet space for you to reconnect to the rhythm of your own breathing,  to rest, and reflect. If you need a break, you can drop in at any point during your visit to the exhibition. Located in Gallery 232.


Guided Reflections

For those looking for a guided experience, we’ll have community facilitators in the space on select Saturdays from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. They can help process and support you with reflection prompts, resources, meditations, and movement practices.


Check out the calendar below:


  • November 6: Kara Pierson from Lilac and Indigo

Lilac & Indigo Creative Meditation experiences are an invitation to show up as you are and to use creativity as a way to recharge, manage stress, and restore your connection with yourself, your body, and the world around you. They are trauma-informed and are developed with the frameworks of somatics, breathwork, and mindfulness. While in the community care space, Kara can guide you through a creative meditation practice using colored pencils and breathwork or simply be present with you as you process. Visit Lilac & Indigo.


  • November 13: Holly Watson from Project CARE YWCA

Project CARE (Community, Accessibility, Response, Education), is a multidisciplinary collaborative of community based, disability, and victim/survivor service providers in Hamilton County, Ohio. A program within the YWCA Greater Cincinnati, Project CARE provides advocacy, crisis intervention, group support, opportunities for connection with peers and safety planning services to survivors and/or those at risk for victimization who experience disability and is driven by the vision that people with disabilities affected by/or at risk for violence are empowered to access highly effective services that are welcoming, comprehensive, and without barriers. If you drop in during this time, Holly can you through a guided meditation or just be a supportive presence. Visit YWCA.


  • November 20: Artist Ryan Nichole Leary

As a visual artist, art historian and art educator, I have watched myself and students encounter experiences in life that may lead to a visceral reaction to that experience. Reaction through Reflection marries breathing and grounding techniques to allow for an in-depth reflection through writing prompts and conversations that encourage us to understand how we are spiritual beings having human experiences. Visit Ryan Nichole Studios.


  • December 4: Art Therapist Kimi Remenyi

Kimi has over 12 years experience working in the field of developmental disabilities. Focusing on trauma responsive care and applied behavior analysis, Kimi uses her experience in the field as well as her education to help empower those she supports to live their best lives. Understanding that trauma is a part of the human experience, especially in today's society, Kimi strives to help everyone she works with align their hearts and their minds so that they may find peace, forgiveness, and calmness within.


  • December 11: Bianca Edwards from Sacred Apothecary

Together we will be offering our bodies and minds a space for breath and reflection. Sinking into what they feel, need and want in this moment. What is the wisdom they are offering us and what do we do with it? A part of this offering will include storytelling, breath work, curiosity and grounding. Visit Sacred Apothecary.


  • December 18: Holistic Educator Dominique Brown

As a holistic educator focused on promoting the wellbeing of womxn in the African diaspora, I specialize in cultivating womanist healing practices for and with Black womxn. I’m trained in Somatic movement practices and as a Movement Trauma Healer. This space will allow participants to reflect through a writing and gentle movement practice. Visit Domonique Brown’s webpage.


  • January 15: Desirae “The Silent Poet” Hosley

Social Therapy is a therapeutic creative writing space designed to do the brave work of identifying your emotions through conversation and guided writing prompts. Facilitating this space is Desirae "The Silent Poet" Hosley, who started Social Therapy in 2020 when the world was at a pause and needed an outlet to express their creativity through poetry. Desirae has been a spoken word artist and teaching artist for 15 years. Follow Desirae on Instagram @IAmTheSilentPoet.


The Community Care Space has been curated with care by Kara Michelle Pierson of Lilac & Indigo LLC.

In support of Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick, and to develop curiosity and interest surrounding the exhibition, Art Climb will host free Pop Up Poetry events Tuesday-Sunday from November 5th-January 16th. Visitors on Art Climb will encounter audio recordings by author and curator, Ciona Rouse. These audio recordings include a short introduction, followed by an original poem read by Rouse, written in response to the work of artist Kara Walker.

There will be three poems read per day, with a short introduction beforehand. The poetry schedule is as follows:

11:00 a.m.: Silhouette
1:00 p.m.: Bird of Freedom
3:00 p.m.: A Slave Ship Gets Nowhere Without the Sea

All poems are approximately 2 minutes in length.

If you need accessibility accommodations for this program or event, please email [email protected]. Please contact us at least two weeks in advance to ensure accommodations can be made.

Exhibition Opening

Say it Aloud: An Evening of Poetry and Spoken Word Performances

Thursday, November 4, 2021, 7–8 p.m.
Bimel Courtyard or Great Hall (Weather Dependent)


Kara Walker is a storyteller with a unique mode of narration. Experience Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick and Walker’s narrative leanings with an intimate evening of poetry and spoken word performances by local Cincinnati voices.

This event is open to the public. Reservations are required for the poetry event due to current COVID-19 guidelines.

To support the health and safety of Cincinnati Art Museum guests and staff, the museum requires that all attendees at this event certify that they are fully vaccinated for COVID 19 or have received a negative COVID 19 test within 72 hours of the event taking place. Please check in at the registration table in the event space prior to the start of the event. In the case of warm weather, this event will be held in the Bimel Courtyard. If weather is inclement, it will be held in the Great Hall where masks will be required.

Please check website for most up-to-date information regarding this event.


Featuring Performances By

Annie Ruth

Annie Ruth

Annie Ruth is a dynamic sister who utilizes her voice and positive spirit to inspire people around the globe. She is an award-winning poet, author, and performer who has received critical acclaim for her work. She has authored and illustrated over 40 books, articles and inspirational commentaries and is active in Greater Cincinnati, serving causes that impact women, the arts, and education. This year she released her latest inspirational volume of prose and poetry entitled, Conquering the Hell Chapters.

Annie Ruth is the founder of Dada Rafiki, pronounced (DAH-Dah RAH-fee-kee), a celebration of women that acknowledges their contributions through visual art, poetry, song and dance. Dada Rafiki means “sister friend” in the Kiswahili language of East Africa. She has celebrated, and honored hundreds of women in Cincinnati through art and cultural programming. Several national venues that she has performed in include Speaking of Women's Health®, Universal Sisters®, and African American Women on Tour®.


And Special Guests from Elementz

Elementz is Cincinnati’s premier Hip Hop Cultural Art Center. Founded in 2002 as a direct response to the killing of Timothy Thomas, a young black man, and the social unrest in Over-the-Rhine that followed, Elementz was created to give voice to young people in the urban core and to disrupt the status quo, encouraging positive change in the community through civic engagement.

Elementz Hip Hop Cultural Art Center


Camille Jones

Camille Jones

Camille Jones is a Cincinnati native, writer, lover of books, dance, and considers herself a film enthusiast. As a University of Cincinnati dual-degree graduate, Camille has earned both a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Currently, Camille works as a dance instructor and Development Manager for Elementz Hip Hop Cultural Art Center. One of Cincinnati’s only mainstays for developing the creative curiosities of young people using culturally relevant artforms rooted in Hip Hop.

Within the city, Camille devotes her time to making a positive impact on growth and confidence building in youth and adults through her co-founded black-women-led hip hop dance team (CA)^2 (CEE-AY-Squared), an acronym for confidently creating active achievers. Beyond creative career achievement, Camille plans to continue her volunteer efforts within marginalized Cincinnati communities and to be an ally and proponent of using the arts as a means for social reform.

Camille is a newfound member of the Rooted Collaborative, a global network of women fundraisers within the BIPOC community and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cincinnati Chapter.


Annie Ruth

Kimberly DuWaup Bolden

Kimberly DuWaup Bolden has been bringing her own brand of flavor to the art scene for nearly 20 years. She is a pioneer who has conquered the mic, the stage, and everything in between and she is showing no signs of slowing down. With five recording projects, an artist development company, and a highly sought after poetry slam, (DuWaup's Cincinnati Poetry Slam), DuWaup is also a published author. Her debut poetry book titled, "SINCERELY, DuWaup" will launch on December 3, 2021, accompanied by her first digitally distributed recording project, titled "SINCERELY, DuWaup the Soundtrack" to be released on all streaming platforms. She is a wife, mother,  artist, and artist mentor as well as Elementz Hip Hop Cultural Art Center's Marketing Manager and Poetry Programs Coordinator. As a Poet, DuWaup is as versatile as the many hats she wears. Depending on the poem, she is the lover, the sister-girl, the advisor, the activist or friend, and she delivers each role adeptly. She has graced many stages over her impressive career alongside other of today's most profound and prolific poets and spoken word artists.

Pre-ordered autographed copies of her debut book are available at or in e-book format at


Elementz logo

Kaylaa Betts

Louder Than a Bomb ambassador Kaylaa Betts is a seventeen-year-old senior at Walnut Hills High School. She’s always been a science fanatic and has studied biology at Stanford University, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Cincinnati. Just last year, she began commenting on social injustice through poetry. She is passionate about helping people overcome adversity and personal challenges through outreach on her robotics team, tutoring, and poetry.

Presenting Sponsor

Jordan Schintzer Family Foundation Logo