Kara Walker addresses the history of slavery and today’s persistent racism through vividly rendered narratives. Using cut-out silhouettes that reflect and confound stereotypes of the Antebellum era, Walker demands that we confront this toxic legacy. Critic Hilton Als has written, “In Walker’s work, slavery is a nightmare from which no American has yet awakened . . . leaving us all scarred, hateful, hated, and diminished.”

Slaughter of the Innocents (They Might be Guilty of Something) is among Walker’s first large-scale compositions mounted on canvas. Here she restages the Biblical narrative, with violence matched by mourning, subjection countered by erotic power.

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Kara Walker, American, born 1969
Slaughter of the Innocents (They Might be Guilty of Something)
Cut paper, acrylic, and graphite on canvas
Canvas: 79 × 220 in. (200.7 × 558.8 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
Collage & Montage

The artist; [Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York]; purchased by MFAH, 2017.