I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle

Kara Walker

I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle


Kara Walker (b. 1969)




Lithograph on paper


framed: 42 1/4 x 37 3/4 in. (107.315 x 95.885 cm.); sheet: 39 1/2 x 34 3/4 in. (100.33 x 88.265 cm.)

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Art by Women Collection, Gift of Linda Lee Alter


© 1996 Kara Walker

Kara Walker's work draws from the legacy of slavery in America and the racial stereotypes in the antebellum South. Her hand-cut silhouettes are inspired by the traditional Victorian medium of the eighteenth-century, in which she recognizes "this very physical displacement (of African Americans): the paradox of removing a form from a blank surface that in turn creates a black hole. I was struck by the irony of so many of my concerns being addressed: blank/black, hole/whole, shadow/substance." This print, depicting a caricatured black child with a dressed monkey alludes to a long history of horrific stereotypes in popular literature and visual culture. It is also rife with sexual allusions, heightening its disturbing effect.