Six years in the making, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in November in last year. Founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, the museum houses her impressive collection of American art, amongst which hangs a hand-woven tapestry designed by artist Kara Walker, which was commissioned by The Rug Company for the special Banners of Persuasion project.
African-American born Kara Walker is best known for her confrontational, room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes. Through these life-size cut-outs Walker explores race, gender, sexuality, violence and identity with the Antebellum South, slavery and more recently the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as her subject matter.
Innocently titled ‘A Warm Summer Evening in 1863′, Walker’s tapestry is based on an engraving first published in a newspaper, showing rioters burning and looting an orphanage in New York, partly hidden by the hand-cut felt silhouette of a hanged woman.
Every flicker of fire and puff of smoke is translated in perfect detail into fine wool tapestry, along with the crude marks made by the engraving tool.
The tapestry hanging in the contemporary collection at the Crystal Bridges Museum.
The museum’s glass-and-wood design by architect Moshe Safdie features a series of pavilions nestled around two creek-fed ponds.