Surface, Spirit Voices and Other Secrets: The Wall Series in Transition
2007/2008 Working Artist Project (WAP)
Exhibition Dates: June 14 – July 26, 2008
The MOCA GA 2007/2008 Working Artist Project selected by Jeffrey Grove, Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, High Museum of Art and Andrea Barnwell-Brownlee, Director, Spelman Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta.
About Larry Walker
Larry Walker (b. 1935 in Franklin, Georgia) grew up in New York City. Walker graduated from the High School of Music & Art, after which he received his BS in art education and MA degree in drawing and painting from Wayne State University in Detroit. He taught in the Detroit school system for 6 years; at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA for 19 years and at Georgia State University for 17 years, (serving as the School of Art and Design’s director for 11 years). Walker has had numerous solo exhibitions and more than 200 exhibitions to date. He was chosen as one of three recipients of MOCA GA’s 2007/2008 inaugural Working Artist Project award. Walker curated an exhibition at MOCA GA, Dissolving Stereotypes/Forgings New Dialogues: An Exhibition Beyond Race. Since 2009 Walker has had three solo exhibitions (Philadelphia and Atlanta) and has had work included in 11 invitational exhibitions at venues in Atlanta, Oakland, Boston, Charlotte as well as in “Tradition Redefined,” The Larry and Brenda Thompson collection which traveled to Maryland, Jacksonville, FL and Athens, GA. Walker continues to add credits to his substantial accomplishments as an artist, visual arts supporter, juror and curator.
ABOUT Surface, Spirit Voices and Other Secrets: The Wall Series in Transition
“On the surface of things the paintings on view in the show Surface, Spirit Voices & Other Secrets: The Wall Series in Transition build upon the mid-century modernism of Romare Bearden, who contrasted mechanical reproduction with sensual humanity or of Jasper Johns whose paintings stage the detritus of culture with blunt objectivity. Larry Walker makes use of found posters, newspapers and objects as if they were brushstrokes of information. However, as he layers images, tears away, clips, and obscures, the paintings reveal such culturally relevant material as the ironies of a narcissistic culture at odds with internal frailty, the processes of social change, and the quiet, hungry presence of spirits whose perspective is limitless and whose messages are everywhere.
The Wall Series is an ongoing exploration of spiritual depth and moral reasoning. The series was begun in the early 1980’s after Walker’s visit with his ailing mother in New York revealed the combined tragedy of death, poverty and urban blight in Harlem at that time. Walker samples the visual language of the street, in such a way that garbage and graffiti become metaphors for bodies resisting defeat. In this landscape, windows and walls reflect the ironies of capitalist culture in which decaying advertisements offer up images of vitality, desire and material want. The activity of finding personal truths within oppressive structures is, in Walker’s art, vital to the preservation of the soul. With that in mind these paintings are free to explore the transcendental aspects of walls as barriers, backdrops, membranes, screens and sounding boards.
The Wall Series in Transition asks us to listen to the visual, to traverse obstacles as large as the impediment of history, and to observe the dynamic whispers of spirit guides. Guides who may in fact be passersby like ourselves, casting anxious longing into the city’s unoccupied spaces, finding solace in our shared existence.
– Kara Walker (from catalogue essay)