Hood Quarterly, winter 2004
Contemporary artist Kara Walker is known for her highly charged silhouetted visual narratives of masters and slaves in the pre–Civil War South. One of her primary artistic themes is the sexual domination of female black slaves by white masters; through images of these graphic violations, she evokes the enormity of the crime committed against enslaved Africans and their descendents.
This sensitively drawn and etched print entitled L’il Patch of Woods shows a desperate young woman who has run away from the slave owner. Forced by her birth pangs to pause in her flight from the armed searchers in the background, she looks back in fear as they pass close to her hiding place. The head of a child who emerges from her body takes the form of West African sculptures depicting birth, a theme commonly shown in Igbo culture but rarely, if ever, depicted in Western art.