On view September 8, 2023 – December 9, 2023

Kara Walker (American, b. 1969), Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated):
 Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta, edition 21/35, 2005. Offset lithography and screen print, 39 x 53 in. 
Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. Photo: Strode Photographic, LLC.

USC Fisher Museum of Art is proud to announce the presentation of Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick, From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. The career-spanning exhibition presents Walker’s powerful and provocative images that employ contradictions to critique the painful legacies of slavery, sexism, violence, imperialism, and other power structures, including those in the history and hierarchies of art and contemporary culture. The exhibition will be on view from September 6 through December 9, 2023.

A leading artist of her generation, Kara Walker (b. 1969) works in a range of mediums, including prints, drawings, paintings, sculpture, film, and the large-scale silhouette cutouts for which she is perhaps most recognized. Walker’s process involves extensive research in history, literature, art history, and popular culture. Intentionally unsentimental and ambiguous, the works explore the irreconcilable inconsistencies that mirror the human condition. 

This exhibition offers a broad overview of Walker’s career through more than 80 works from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, premier collectors of works on paper in the United States. Uniting works created between 1994 and 2019, some highlights of the exhibition are the complete Emancipation Approximation series and images from the Porgy & Bess series. 

“The works in Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick live up to the exhibition’s title, commanding attention with their brutal imagery, formal beauty, and ability to wound,” said Danielle Sommer, Curator, USC Fisher Museum of Art. “Featuring prints, paintings, film, sculpture, and cut-paper silhouettes from almost every stage of the artist’s thirty-year career, Cut to the Quick also challenges visitors to consider what Walker’s next three decades might look like.”

“Kara Walker is one of the most important artists of our time—from the simple cutouts, like frontier homes had on each side of their fireplaces, to the intricate figurines and videos, Kara Walker’s art forces us to deal with issues of racism, stereotypes, and gender inequality.” said Jordan Schnitzer, “I first saw her art in 1994 and instantly was drawn to the power of her artistic voice. We have exhibited her work in solo exhibitions at 14 museums nationwide. We have also included her art in over 30 other group exhibitions. I hope all of you are impacted as I was that moment when I first saw her work, as I still am today!”

Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick is co-curated by Frist Art Museum executive director and CEO Dr. Susan H. Edwards and Nashville poet Ciona Rouse. The exhibition debuted at the Frist Museum in Nashville and traveled to the Cincinnati Art Museum, MOCA Jacksonville, and Virginia MOCA. The exhibition tour concludes at USC Fisher.


All works in this exhibition were acquired by Jordan D. Schnitzer, one of the premier collectors in the United States. The Foundation was established in 1997 as a non-profit organization to manage the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Today, the collection has become one of the most important post-war and contemporary collections in all media, exceeding 20,000 objects, and has grown to be the country’s largest private collection of prints and multiples. He generously lends work from his collection to qualified institutions with no additional fees. Since the program’s inception, the Foundation has organized over 160 exhibitions and has loaned works to over 120 museums. In addition, The Foundation publishes scholarly brochures, exhibition catalogues, and catalogues raisonnés in conjunction with exhibitions drawn from the collections.


Founded in 1939 by Elizabeth Holmes Fisher and accredited by the American Association of Museums, the museum houses a permanent collection of some 3,000 objects including 19th century American landscapes; 16th and 17th century Northern European paintings; 18th century British portraiture; and 19th century French Barbizon paintings, as well as 20th century works on paper, paintings and sculpture and features exhibitions of local, international, and emerging artists.

Located on the USC Campus in the heart of Los Angeles, the museum is part of an extraordinary complex of Exposition Park museums including the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California Science Center, and the California African American Museum.


Kara Walker’s works explores the themes of racial trauma, sexual violence, and enslavement—engaging with this exhibition may bring up painful and complex feelings, especially for those who have experienced trauma or are otherwise connected to the issues presented in Walker’s art. Click link below for a list of resources to offer additional context and support.