KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Ericka Walker is an artist whose studio output focuses on drawing and printmaking. Her website explains how her interests within these fields of practice have migrated towards propaganda, printed ephemera, and advertising in the role of nation-building. She uses printmaking, especially, in reaction to the legacies of political posters that have helped shape public opinion since before the First World War, and whose rhetoric continues influencing us today.
Last summer Walker completed a 800 square-foot painted mural on a barn near Wolfville in rural Nova Scotia.
She teaches studio coursework in printmaking as an assistant professor in the Fine Arts Division at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Learn more about Ericka Walker by visiting her website: www.erickawalker.com.
For the past six years, I have pursued research and studio work in response to a flotilla of political narratives meant to dissociate inconvenient residues of shared European colonial histories from contemporary socio-cultural ailments. What I think are important, albeit disfiguring, features of the story of North America – xenophobia, gender inequality, unacknowledged genocide, perpetual war, patriotic window-dressing – are not only embedded in the speeches, monuments, and texts in which popular history has been recorded, but are in fact the basis upon which its inertia is promulgated.
Even today, in political races, advertising, and entertainment, these narratives continue painting a picture of white male civility as an enduring national brand in North America. Printmaking, especially in its state sponsored and commercial iterations – imagine the enduring image of Lord Kitchener asking Britons to join their country’s army in 1914, advertisements for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, or William H. West’s Big Minstrel Jubilee playbills featuring blackface actors – has its own long-standing relationship with these difficult histories, making it an appealing medium to put to work in my investigations as both an individual artist, and also as an educator.
From Walker’s website:
My 800 square-foot painted mural in rural Nova Scotia, entitled Indeterminate Tillage, was curated as part of the 2016 Uncommon/Common Art public art initiative. The piece responded to the settler and agricultural-histories of the Gaspereau Valley, and relied on the once-commonplace practice of using agricultural outbuildings as a locus of public communication in the form of political and commercial advertisement. I will be continuing my mural work in the coming years, as a regular part of my creative practice.
Ericka Walker’s work is reproduced courtesy of the artist.
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