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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
Ticketed. Free for Members.
Friends of Contemporary Art, Friends of African American Art

Purchase Tickets    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.


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. Register for the Exhibition Opening.


Reserve Your Spot for Say it Aloud

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


RSVP for Say it Aloud


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, Director and CEO of the Frist Art Museum, and the poetry of Ciona Rouse, the exhibition’s guest curator.

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, Director, and CEO; and Megan Rust, Interpretation Director, both of the Frist Art Museum.

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

Presenting Sponsor

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