I have been a silent fan of Kara Walker´s art for a long time. She has a way of fighting the racial issues and showing it´s violence by making it beautiful. The horror in the silhouettes usually done by paper cuts makes you cringe, but at the same time you want to continue to take it in and feel it.
Tuesday, I just finished the page turner and bestseller book "The Help" By Kathryn Stockett.
Teary eyed I sat in a cafe close to the Chelsea Galleries, having to finish it before my book club last night. The book is centered around 2 black maids in the 6o´s Mississippi and a young white woman writing a book describing their life as "The Help". You have the full set of characters that you love and the once you despise, even with the predictable characters, it is a great read. You find the maids get away with small victories of insults done to the once that deserve it, catapulting in a "chocolate cake". But you also find grateful stories told about the employers as well. I ended up falling in love with Miss Skeeter the character who writes the book. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will be able to identify with her and applaud through her dares.
I know it might be a bit of a stretch to run over to the James Cohan Gallery after having finished the book, to see their "Banner of Persuasion" and stare at the tapestry "A warm summer evening in 1863" (as seen above), but, that is what I did. Kara Walker's picture goes a hundred years further back and shows the civil war but in the 1960´s lynching was still going on and the fight for equality is forever a struggle. I just also recently watched the devastating movie "Precious" although describing the 80´s still representing the now to me.
To stretch it even further, just a couple of years ago I was trying to sell a crack house in Harlem, not knowing it was a crack house before I arrived but knowing the gentrification that I as a real estate agent was part of, I entered one of the old brownstones and I still have images in my head I will never be able to stop from coming back. Kids growing up in the middle of a molded, wet, extremely dirty, extremely messy unlivable place. The dolls and the destroyed teddy bears next to the "fixer" station.
So, there I am in front of the Kara Walker banner ($140K for the one who can afford it) thinking about the beautiful but haunting song "Strange fruit" that Billie Holiday used to sing.
One of the first anti-racist songs ever written, about the extremity of lynching.