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The Ecstasy of St. Kara: Kara Walker, New Work

by Reto Thüring, Beau Rutland, Kara Walker, John Lansdowne, Tracy K. Smith; photos by Ari Marcopoulos

Over the past two decades, Kara Walker has relentlessly examined racial injustice in the United States both past and present. The Ecstasy of St. Kara debuts Walker’s most recent artworks, a series of large-scale drawings on paper. Stemming from her time at an artist’s residency in Rome, the new works echo that city’s long and tumultuous history––its complicated layering of cultures, traditions, and religions, especially Christianity. The new drawings question the notion of history itself, and examine how Walker envisions the rise and fall of society.

Richly illustrated, this publication includes plates of each drawing as well as intimate photographs of the artist at work taken by her partner, acclaimed artist and filmmaker Ari Marcopoulos. An introduction by Reto Thüring and Beau Rutland contextualizes the importance of this latest evolution within Walker’s oeuvre; John Lansdowne addresses the topic of Christian iconography and its relationship to Walker’s new drawings; and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith contributes a new poem. In addition, a text by Walker considers her work within the recent political climate.
Published for the exhibition The Ecstasy of St. Kara: Kara Walker, New Work at the Cleveland Museum of Art, September 10–December 31, 2016

80 pages
Illustrated throughout
8 1/2 x 12 inches
Published 2016