Exodus of Confederates from the portfolio Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)

Kara Walker2005

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
Durham, United States

Kara Walker creates challenging works that address the persistent legacy of slavery in American culture, with its racial and gendered stereotypes and myths. For the works in this portfolio Walker produced enlargements of prints from "Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War," first published in 1866. "Harper's Pictorial History" has long been an inspiration for Walker both in what it depicted about the war as well as what it left out. Walker overlaid these familiar civil war battle landscapes with her own cutouts of African American figures. The solid black silhouettes interrupt and haunt the scenes as larger-than-life, ghostly reminders of the violence and oppression endured by slaves.

Since the 1990s Walker has used the technique of cut-paper silhouettes placed against a white background. Historically these types of silhouettes were used to decorate 18th- and 19th-century middle class homes. Walker appropriates the technique to stage scenes illustrating racial suppression while interweaving Civil War iconography and black racist stereotypes. Walker highlights the similarities between the silhouette and the nature of stereotypes, in which complex details of individuals are reduced or generalized into easily recognizable outlines.

Born in California, Kara Walker spent ten years in Atlanta, Georgia, from age 12 until 22, where her father was a professor at Georgia State University. She studied at the Atlanta College of Art and received her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1997 she was the youngest person ever to be awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award.


  • Title: Exodus of Confederates from the portfolio Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)
  • Creator: Kara Walker
  • Creator Birth Place: Stockton, California
  • Date Created: 2005
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: 16 15/16 x 34 7/16 inches (43 x 87.5 cm)
  • Type: Print
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © Kara Walker
  • External Link: https://nasher.duke.edu/exhibitions/kara-walker-harpers/
  • Medium: Offset lithograph and screenprint on paper, edition 35/35
  • Art Form: Print
  • Credit Line: Museum purchase with funds provided by Monica M. and Richard D. Segal, the Neely Family, and Barbra and Andrew Rothschild.

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