A Conversation with Kara Walker

The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and The Hammer Museum at UCLA presents Kara Walker in Conversation with Steven Nelson. The talk is held in conjunction with the Hammer Museum exhibition by Kara Walker - My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love which opens March 2 and runs through June 8, 2008.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
135 Haines Hall
UCLA campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Steven Nelson

  • Steven Nelson, Associate Professor of African and African American Art History and Vice-Chair of the UCLA Department of Art History, is the author of From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture in and out of Africa. He has written extensively on the contemporary and historic arts, architecture and urbanism of Africa and its diasporas, African American art history, and queer studies.

Kara Walker

  • Kara Walker is a dynamic artist whose unique use of silhouettes sets her apart from other artists.  Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California in 1969. She received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. The artist is best known for exploring the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality through her iconic, silhouetted figures. (more info, see Exhibition description below)

About the Exhibition at the Hammer (from the Hammer website):

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love is the first comprehensive presentation of this remarkable African American artist’s career. Walker has risen to international prominence for visually stunning works that challenge conventional narratives of American history and the antebellum South. With biting humor, the artist comments on race, slavery and liberation, sexual attraction and exploitation, discrimination, and modernity. The Hammer is the only West Coast venue for the show, which originated at the Walker Art Center and has traveled to the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. It has been curated by Walker Art Center’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director Philippe Vergne. Kara Walker is a particularly meaningful exhibition for the Hammer Museum, as Walker was the first artist to be featured in the now-celebrated Hammer Projects series, which offers solo exhibitions to emerging artists.

For more info on the artist, complete with artworks slideshow and slideshow of Kara Walker at work, visit http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/walker/#


  • Public programs are free of charge. Gallery talks are free with museum admissions.  Regular Admission:  $5 Adults; $3 Seniors (65+) and UCLA Alumni Association Members with ID.
  • Free for Museum members, students with ID, UCLA faculty and staff, and visitors 17 and under accompanied by an adult.  Free on Thursdays for all visitors.
  • Hammer members receive priority seating. For more information about Hammer Membership, email membership@hammer.ucla.edu.


  • Parking is available under the Museum. Rates are $3 for the first three hours with Museum stamp; $1.50 for each additional 20 minutes.
  • There is a $3 flat rate after 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays.
  • Parking for people with disabilities is provided on levels P1 and P3.
  • The Museum is located at the northeast corner of Westwood and Wilshire Boulevards in Westwood Village, 3 blocks east of the 405 freeway's Wilshire Boulevard exit.


Wednesday, March 12, 7pm
Hammer Exhibition Walk-Through with Paul Von Blum

Tour the exhibition with Paul Von Blum, senior lecturer in African American Studies, Communication Studies, and Art History at UCLA.  Von Blum has taught at the University of California for 38 years and has received Distinguished Teaching Awards at UC Berkeley and UCLA. His most recent book is Resistance, Dignity, and Pride: African American Artists in Los Angeles, published by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

Professor Von Blum curates exhibitions, including an exhibition by internationally renowned photographer Peter Magabune at the California African American Museum (CAAM), is involved in projects in South Africa, and works with artists in Los Angeles.  

Saturday, April 26, 2pm
Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love Exhibition Walk-Through with Ken Gonzales-Day

With artist Ken Gonzales-Day, associate professor and chair of the Department of Art at Scripps College, and author of Lynching in the West: 1850–1935. Gonzales-Day has exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at LA>Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

Wednesday, May 14, 7pm
Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love Panel Discussion: Word is Bond
History, Storytelling, and the Work of Kara Walker

Roderick A. Ferguson is associate professor of race and critical theory in the Department of American Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique. Jenny Sharpe is professor of English at UCLA and author of Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archeology of Black Women’s Lives, which moves between past and present, history and fiction, in order to tell the everyday life stories of slave women. Organized and moderated by Naima Keith, PhD candidate, Department of Art History, UCLA.

Wednesday, May 21, 7pm  Hammer Lectures
Darby English

Darby English is the author of How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness and co-editor of Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress. He is associate professor of art history at the University of Chicago, where he teaches modern and contemporary American art and cultural studies. He is also affiliated faculty in the Department of Visual Arts, as well as at the Center for Gender Studies and Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.


Tuesday, April 1, 7pm  Hammer Screenings
Body and Soul (1925)

Paul Robeson makes his screen debut in this silent masterwork by black independent director Oscar Micheaux. Set in a small Southern town, the film was a direct condemnation of the power of the clergy, with Robeson playing dual roles as a mild-mannered inventor and a crooked ex-convict who impersonates the town’s preacher.


Thursday, March 13, 7pm  Hammer Lectures
Wangechi Mutu

Wangechi Mutu was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1972. She earned her BFA at Cooper Union in New York, and her MFA in Sculpture at Yale in 2000. Her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles; Art Pace, San Antonio; Miami Art Museum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.

Special Instructions

Museum Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 11am-7pm; Sun 11am-5pm; Thu 11am-9pm. Closed Mondays

Cost : Free and open to the public; parking is available.

For more information please contact:

Bunche Center for African American StudiesTel: 310-825-7403