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Keys to the Coop

Kara Walker

Contemporary Art

Kara Walker has succeeded in developing a signature visual vocabulary that is instantly recognizable for its engagement with both nineteenth-century imaging techniques and the historical period of the American antebellum South. In Keys to the Coop, Walker depicts a young African American girl in bold silhouette, holding the decapitated head of a chicken in one hand, while in the other she nonchalantly twirls a large key. Walker portrays a self-empowered anti-heroine who possesses the key to her own salvation, in stark black-and-white. This image also provocatively alludes to food, gender, and racial mythologies, subjects that Walker often foregrounds in her work.
MEDIUM Linocut on paper
DATES 1997
DIMENSIONS 46 1/4 x 60 1/2 in. (117.5 x 153.7 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed upper right: "KW '97"
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed upper left in graphite: "Keys to the Coop"
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
CREDIT LINE Robert A. Levinson Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Kara Walker (American, born 1969). Keys to the Coop, 1997. Linocut on paper, 46 1/4 x 60 1/2 in. (117.5 x 153.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Robert A. Levinson Fund, 1997.152. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1997.152_SL3.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1997.152_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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