New Project: Conceptual Vector Silhouette Inspired by Kara Walker

Today we will introduce our next project, Conceptual Vector Silhouettes Inspired by Kara Walker.
We will use Adobe Illustrator to communicate a message about a social issue of our choice.


Kara Walker is best known for exploring the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality through her iconic, silhouetted figures. Walker unleashes the traditionally proper Victorian medium of the silhouette directly onto the walls of the gallery, creating a theatrical space in which her unruly cut-paper characters inflict physical and emotional violence on one another. (PBS’s Art 21). More background information on Kara Walker is available through TheArtStory.

Read about Kara Walker’s recent statements regarding the current political climate in the NY Times and Quartz.

Here are some examples of Kara Walker’s artwork:

Project Requirements:

  • Vector black and white silhouette imagery created in Adobe Illustrator
  • 11×14, 14×11, or 12×18 (depending on desired dimensions)
  • Illustrates the complexity of a social issue of your choice
  • Balance of positive and negative space
  • Choice of one of the following:
    • One detailed scene with figures and an environment
    • Triptych (three artworks that should be displayed together) of simpler silhouettes

Today we will:

  • Brainstorm project ideas for our conceptual vector silhouette project
  • Create a new blog post with the following (this will count as a 10 point homework grade, so be sure to fulfill all requirements):
    • A written description of your concept. Not sure what to write? Start by answering these questions, but make sure your final blog post is written in paragraph form:
      • What social issue will you illustrate?
      • If this is currently a contentious issue, what side/argument of this issue will your artwork portray?
      • What imagery (figures, environment, props/accessories) will your artwork contain?
      • What will be happening in your artwork?
    • A sketch of your planned design (you will later trace over this in Illustrator, so be sure to add the appropriate amount of detail)

If you do not finish all the elements of your planning blog post this class, post what you have in order to receive a participation grade for the day.


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