NEW YORK, April 26, 2005 - New School University today publicly unveiled a new work by the acclaimed African-American artist Kara Walker. The mural, titled Event Horizon, represents Walkers first public art installation, and is one of several works the University has commissioned in recent years. The mural is on view in the main lobby of Arnhold Hall, located at 55 West 13th Street, where it joins a recent commission by the artist Sol LeWitt.
Event Horizon is a site-specific work created in response to its placement along a grand stairway leading from the main lobby to a major public program space, the Theresa Lang Student and Community Center. Walker associated this passageway with the Underground Railroad, which is represented as a tunnel. Just as passersby ascends and descends the stairway, so do characters climb up and fall down through the tunnel. A slave driver in the left-hand corner of the work attempts to drive the characters down the tunnel, but they aspire to climb out to freedom and opportunity.
Like the New School itself, Event Horizon reflects the intersection of art, politics and social issues, said New School University President Bob Kerrey. A metaphorical Underground Railroad, the piece can be seen as not only as a commentary on the African-American communitys historical struggle for freedom, but educations role in todays society as a route to opportunity.
The University Art Collection includes a number of works by African-American women artists, which reflects a focus by the university - and of its major patron, Vera List - in supporting emerging and underrepresented artists. This includes another work by Kara Walker, The Means to an End...A Shadow Drama in 5 Acts, 1995 (purchased in 1996), and works by Renee Cox, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. Many works from the collection were on view this past fall in a Parsons exhibition of African-American women artists called Creating Their Own Image, curated by Parsons faculty member Lisa Farrington, Ph.D.
We selected Kara Walker for this commission because she follows the tradition of controversial and risk-taking artists who have created works for the collection such as José Clemente Orozco and Sol LeWitt, said Gabriella De Ferrari, the chair of the Universitys Committee for the University Art Collection and a University Trustee. Kara is a critically acclaimed artist who has reached a rich and productive period in her career, and her work addresses one of the most important social and political issues in our country - the history of slavery in America - from a uniquely African-American and female viewpoint.
Kara Walker is a highly respected artist who is known for exploring race, gender, and sexuality through iconic, silhouetted figures. Her work is featured in the collections of Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She has been widely exhibited and published, and is a recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award. The artist resides in New York.
Event Horizon was commissioned as part of a renewed commitment by the University to supporting the creation of new art in its public spaces. This tradition began in 1930 with opening of the Universitys first building, 66 West 12th Street, with the commissioning of works by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco, American artist Thomas Hart Benton, and Ecuadorian artist Camilo Egas. Other recent commissions include Sol LeWitts Wall Drawing No. 1073, Bars of Color (New School), (2004), which is also on view in the lobby of Arnhold Hall, and an installation by Los-Angeles-based artist Dave Muller, Interpolations and Extrapolations (adjoining the Vera List Courtyard), (2002-03) located in the lobby of 66 West 12th Street, which was commissioned in honor of collection patron Vera List.
New School University, with more than 8,000 matriculated students and 15,000 continuing education students, is a New York City university committed to critical scholarship, artistic integrity, and ethical responsibility in the social sciences, humanities, the arts and design. It is comprised of a liberal arts foundation of three schools: The New School, Eugene Lang College and the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, and five professional schools: Parsons School of Design, Mannes College of Music, Actors Studio Drama School, the Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, and New School Universitys Jazz & Contemporary Music Program. New School Online University offers one of the largest selections of online courses in the nation. For further information on New School University, call (212) 229-5600 or visit the Web site at www.newschool.edu.