Activist Imagination, Art & Development

Sports Metaphors + the Burden of Representation

In his profile of Kara Walker (New Yorker Magazine, October 8, 2007), Hilton Als describes a contingent of African American artists and their attempt to ostracize Kara Walker because her art didn’t ennoble African Americans. Elder stateswoman Betye Saar called Walker’s work “revolting” and asked if African Americans were being “betrayed.”

Walker, who was then pregnant, dug deep: “I felt, Well, I have to re-double my efforts if I’m going to keep all this going, and I’ve got to take this child and go charging through, like in football.”

I don’t think she set out to antagonize her predecessors, but I really admire her resolve, even as a young artist, to stay committed to her artistic practice, despite the costs.

I Am Not Making Activist Art for Activist Imagination. I’ll keep in mind the vision of Walker juking a field full of opponents.


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