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"I felt the work of Kara Walker was sort of revolting and negative and a form of betrayal to the slaves, particularly women and children; that it was basically for the amusement and the investment of the white art establishment."

--Betye Saar, African American artist, in PBS series I'll Make Me a World, 1999.

"[Walker's] world is quite frankly black and white. In fact it is shameless. The work's refusal to acknowledge shame when dealing with issues of race and desire set within the context of slavery, allows Walker to challenge, indeed taunt, our individual and collective historical imaginations."

--From "Cut It Out," an essay accompanying a Kara Walker exhibition at The Renaissance Society, a contemporary art center at the University of Chicago, January-February 1997.

"What is troubling and complicates the matter is that Walker's words in published interviews mock African Americans and Africans...She has said things such as 'All black people in America want to be slaves a little bit.'...Walker consciously or unconsciously seems to be catering to the bestial fantasies about blacks created by white supremacy and racism."

--Howardena Pindell, African American artist, at the Johannesburg Biennale, October 1997.

"A generational abyss of metaphysical proportions comes into high relief around Walker. Older blacks feel that images of mammies, pickaninnies and Sambos are irredeemably evil -- that they cannot speak except with malice and hate. Younger people assume all images are unstable projections, subject to change. As always, both camps ignore how good art can lift you above the problem and change lives."

--Art critic Jerry Saltz in The Village Voice, November 17, 1998.

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Reproduction of Camptown ladies, click to view larger version

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