Free Essay

A Mirror Image

In: English and Literature

Submitted By manningtd
Words 1043
Pages 5
Thomas Manning
Nancy Blair
Art Appreciation
November 19, 2010

A Mirror Image With the use of black cutouts Kara Walker is able to depict images that create challenging questions about power, race and sex. In her work You Do her simple powerful style asks some of these questions. It is through this style that Kara Walker shows that art can be powerful with the use of only a few elements in design. In a representational work of art, Kara Walker shows how the use of multiple line styles can unite a piece of art. Much of the work in this piece is connected by curvilinear lines leaving only one object separated from the rest. This object, in the lower left corner depicts a man carrying a cane. This cane, one of the only straight lines in the work other than the pins in the doll, is a straight line and can be considered pointing to the figures in the middle of the work. This straight line shows an implied line as this seems to be pointing up and directing attention. It is through this implied line that the connection from this alone object is connected to the rest of the art work. Through the use of romantic line quality this work contains heavy lines with sharp edges. This is due to the creation process. The cutout silhouettes are drawn by the artist first then they are cutout using an X-acto knife (Riley). It is through this method that the work has clear sharp edges creating the lines. These two dimensional shapes can only be imagined as life like. They carry no visual texture or color to give the illusion of having mass to exist in the third dimension. This simplistic form of shape shows only an outline of an image and therefore nothing exudes from the work. These black silhouettes typically sit motionless upon a white wall (Look for research). You Do shows no depth in its work. With no foreground, middle ground, or background (except for the whiteness of the walls) this is not vantage point and is considered in its primary form. (verify). You Do can be considered asymmetrical balanced as each side does not mirror image the other but has some balance to it. With a few small changes this work can be considered to have bilateral symmetry. Even though this work is asymmetrically balanced You Do is slightly unbalanced. The man on the far left is not on the right, and the objects in the hands differ. On the far left side stands a small man. There is no object on the right side of the work to help balance the piece out. With the figures size being so small and overpowered by the larger objects in the middle the unbalance look is very forgiving. Depended upon the ability of the viewer this work maintains multiple focal points. This process, known as Figure-ground reversals, allows the viewer to focus on either the black or white of the work. If focusing on the white of the work the main focal point becomes the white hour glass shape in the middle. This focal point shifts to the black area where the hips connect together when focusing on the black hue in the work. The representational meanings behind the work is defined by the scale and proportions created by Kara Walker. The two images in the middle of the work are very large compared to the smaller man and doll which is held in both hands and the man standing in the far lower left. These figures are manipulated to show a larger and smaller scale to add to the effect of the work. Repetition and rhythm is defined as an effect achieved when shapes, colors, or a regular pattern of any kind is repeated over and over again (Sayre). You do carry only two repetitive shapes to the work consisting of the mirrored images in the middle of the work, and the two men in different positions on the lower left and upper right. These repetitive shapes bring unity to the art, but with the dismissal of different hues this piece lacks much variety. The only variety comes from the small male in a top hat and coat, and the small doll jammed with pins. The small man stands in one area and is being held in another. This symbolic variety in the work again shows the true representation of the work. The image portrayed by Kara Wilson depicts racially undertones. This art work is a mirror image of a black female. If the viewer divides this work into two separate sides and looks at only the left side of the page first the art will consist of a black female holding a voodoo doll and a white dominate disproportionate male standing at her feet. This male is apparently showing the black female his authority as he stands before her and points his cane in her direction. The doll, stuck with pins, signifies a spell being put onto the white male in the top hat pointing the cane. The other side of the work consists of the same image without the doll and man before her. She now holds this white dominate man in her hands where she holds the power. Kara Wilson shows great depth to her work only utilizing a few principles of design elements. You Do is dominated by the use of black and white hues and curvilinear and straight lines, and yet she is able to give tremendous meaning to her work. She utilizes proportionate figures showing dominance in the world of the art. It is through these few elements that Kara Wilsons You Do depicts a powerful representation of race through art.

Works Cited
Riley, Cheryl R. "Kara Walker: romance, race, slavery and sex influence celebrated visual artist's work." Ebony June 2007: 104+. General OneFile. Web. 17 Nov. 2010. Sayre, Henry. World of Art 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. 183. Print.

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