New York City’s Lower Manhattan is home to many small galleries holding some of the most prestigious artwork of our generation. When I went home for fall break a few weeks ago, I visited a few of these galleries. There are over 30 galleries within a few blocks of each other, making it easy to travel to many different kinds of shows. The galleries feature photography, sculpture and painting shows next door to one another for blocks in every direction.
One of these galleries is Sikkema Jenkins and Co. Currently, Sikkema Jenkins is showing a Kara Walker exhibition. Kara Walker is an African American painter, print maker, installation artist and film-maker. She is best known for her room-size silhouette black paper cut outs. Through her work, Walker explores the themes of race, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity.
The title of Walker’s current show is long enough to be a full artist statement. It is supposed to replicate a newspaper headline, as this work is her a response to the current political climate. She created all of the pieces displayed within the past year. The show consists of three small rooms in a gallery space. Walker’s work is strictly two toned, black and white, and has overlapping imagery in all of her pieces.
The title reads:
Sikkema Jenkins and Co. is Compelled to present…
The most Astounding and Important Painting show of the fall Art Show viewing season!
Collectors of Fine Art will Flock to see the latest Kara Walker offerings, and what is she offering but the Finest Selection of artworks by an African-American Living Woman Artist this side of the Mississippi. Modest collectors will find her prices reasonable, those of a heartier disposition will recognize Bargains! Scholars will study and debate the Historical Value and Intellectual Merits of Miss Walker’s Diversionary Tactics. Art Historians will wonder whether the work represents a Departure or a Continuum. Students of Color will eye her work suspiciously and exercise their free right to Culturally Annihilate her on social media. Parents will cover the eyes of innocent children. School Teachers will reexamine their art history curricula. Prestigious Academic Societies will withdraw their support, former husbands and former lovers will recoil in abject terror. Critics will shake their heads in bemused silence. Gallery Directors will wring their hands at the sight of throngs of the gallery-curious flooding the pavement outside. The Final President of the United States will visibly wince. Empires will fall, although which ones, only time will tell.
Emma Raible ’20
To learn more about the show, visit Sikkema Jenkins and Co.’s website.