Race as a Conceptual Framework

These past two weeks of class I have learned about some new artists that are both very individual and unique in their meanings of art. The two artists that we were introduced to were Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker. These two artists have some similarities in their backgrounds and in their works of art. Both artist are both of African American descent, in addition they also create work themed on “power”, they also are both very well known in there field and growing in popularity.


Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps (Wiley)

     Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker illustrate the shifting notion of “power” from the historical perspective of racism a little differently individually. Wiley shows “power” by the example above, Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps. Wiley’s view on power is shown with an African American male in a very similar pose to Napoleon who is white. This is an example of African American in a position that was normally seen to be a White males position. Wiley’s work also shows an everyday stereotype of an African American male who is dressed in “urban apparel” the original version of Napoleon shows him in very fitting of the era and prestigious clothing. The causes and issues that have lead to the this shift have had a impact on today’s society, this is so because many do not feel that African Americans have had the ability to hold the same positions that have normally been prominent     held by those of white ethical. Kara Walker’s work is a little different she uses silhouettes and creates very elaborate art work that depicts the life of slaves and their feelings towards whites who often treated them poorly historically. Her works are often very difficult to look at and are pre-civil war. An example of her work is below, it is Untitled (Hunting Scenes).

Untitled (Hunting Scenes) (Walker)

      We have progressed as a “post-racial” society by seeing many people of different ethnicities in roles of “power” that was normally held by those of white ethnicity. I do believe that as a society that there has been progress made as “post-racial” society. I believe as a nation that racism has diminished and will continue to become weaker until the day where there is no racism. I believe that both Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker are very interesting individuals that create very in depth works that make you truly think deeper about the appearance of “power” in our everyday society.


Look above at the following two posts to see the imagery that was used in this post.



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