Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick¬

From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Kara Walker, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated): Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta, edition 21/35, 2005. Offset lithography and screenprint, 39 x 53 in. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. © Kara Walker

March 9, 2023-June 11, 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. Her powerful and provocative images 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.

This exhibition offers a broad overview of her 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. Some highlights of the exhibition are the complete Emancipation Approximation series and images from the Porgy & Bess series. Walker conducts extensive research in history, literature, art history, and popular culture. Her work is intentionally unsentimental and ambiguous.

This exhibition originated at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tenn., and was co-curated by former Frist Art Museum executive director and CEO Dr. Susan H. Edwards and poet Ciona Rouse. In addition to her curatorial responsibilities, Rouse composed original poems inspired by Walker’s works, which live inside the exhibition. At Virginia MOCA, Cut to the Quick will be guest curated by Rouse with Virginia MOCA Senior Curator Heather Hakimzadeh.

Please take care when viewing the artwork. We understand that the works on view are complex, challenging, and possibly triggering—so we invite you into the Hold Space Place in the gallery. The Hold Space Place designed by Get Well Soon is a quiet space for you to rest and reflect.

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art


At age 14, Jordan D. Schnitzer bought his first work of art from his mother’s Portland, Oregon contemporary art gallery, evolving into a lifelong avocation as a collector. He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988. Today, the collection has become one of the most important post-war and contemporary collections in all mediums, 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. The Foundation has organized over 160 exhibitions and has had art exhibited at over 120 museums. Mr. Schnitzer is also President of Schnitzer Properties, a privately owned real estate investment company based in Portland.

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. The Foundation publishes scholarly brochures, exhibition catalogues, and catalogues raisonnés in conjunction with exhibitions drawn from the collections. The Foundation also funds museum outreach and programming—especially to lesser served communities—furthering the mission of letting artists speak to us, through their art, on important issues facing society.

For more information go to jordanschnitzer.org


In the summer of 2022, Virginia MOCA invited a group of cultural and political figures, academics, artists, and community members to serve on an advisory committee in preparation for the Museum’s presentation of Cut to the Quick. Convening periodically over a period of several months, the group provided crucial insight and feedback that helped shape the exhibition’s interpretive frameworks, installation design, and related programming. Working hand in hand with Virginia MOCA staff members, the committee conceived a series of public programs inspired by and responding to the exhibition, helping to bring the questions and conversations provoked by Walker’s work outside of the Museum walls and into the community.

Zahra Ahmad, Founder, Get Well Soon

Paula L. Bazemore, Hampton Roads Program Manager, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

Susan Cohen, Virginia MOCA Trustee

Michelle Ellis Young, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA South Hampton Roads

Lauren Francis, Associate Producer, With Good ReasonVirginia Humanities

Asa Jackson, Executive Director, Contemporary Arts Network

Latisha James, Executive Vice President External Affairs & Operations, Urban League of Hampton Roads

Dr. Vanessa D. Thaxton-Ward, Director, Hampton University Museum and Archives

Virginia Thornton, Founder, Get Well Soon

Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, Founder & Chairman, Virginia African American Cultural Center


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. In partnership with YWCA South Hampton Roads, here is a list of resources to offer additional context and support.



&visual=true&buying=false&liking=false&download=false&sharing=false&show_comments=false&show_playcount=false&callback=true" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay" style="width: 100%; height: 100%;" data-gtm-yt-inspected-6="true">

Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick originated at the Frist Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. In this audio tour, you will hear the exhibition’s co-curator Ciona Rouse and the Frist Art Museum’s interpretation director Meagan Rust discuss selected works in the exhibition and offer prompts for guided looking and further reflection. You will also hear Ciona Rouse read the original poems she wrote in response to Walker’s works.


Programming Advisory Committee members and community ambassadors respond to Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick.

Filmed by Jeremy Bates Film.

Our Supporters

Exhibition support generously provided by Vivian Montano and Steve Lawson, Susan and Andrew Cohen, The Goode Family Foundation, Maria G. Hillebrandt and Martha J. Goodman, Rutter Family Art Foundation, and Virginia Humanities.

Free admission generously underwritten by The Goode Family Foundation.