The Gibbes Museum of Art has recently acquired several works by African-American artists for its permanent collection, including pieces by Leo Twiggs, Mary Jackson, and Charles Williams. And this week the Gibbes can add another acclaimed African-American contemporary artist to its permanent collection roster.
Kara Walker, best known for her large black cut-paper silhouettes, will have her sculptural maquette, “The Katastwof Karavan,” on display after its unveiling in New Orleans this past weekend. The unveiling was greeted with great fanfare, featuring public performances with Walker and jazz pianist Jason Moran.
According to Prospect New Orleans, Walker created “The Katastwof Karavan” in collaboration with Moran and steam-power enthusiast Kenneth Griffard. The 32-note steam calliope (a musical instrument that produces sound by sending a gas or steam through large whistles) is modeled after a calliope similar to the Steamboat Natchez and housed in a parade wagon of her own design.
The “Katastwof Karavan” plays songs and sounds that Walker associates with the history of African-American protest music, from gospel to reggae to jazz improvisation, chants, and shouts.
Prospect’s artistic director Trevor Schoonmaker says, “Kara has broken new artistic ground and created a complex and potent work that hits on visual, sonic, intellectual and emotional levels. ‘The Katastwóf Karavan’ has an important role to play at this time of social divide and racial tension because of its ability to generate real dialogue around these issues.”