Artist Mary Evans has been working in cut paper since the mid-1990s. In her chosen medium, Evans investigates signs and signifiers of the way humans tend to classify certain races and nationalities, particularly in visual terms. Over the course of her career, her work has evolved to reveal the ways in which racism, the history of slavery, and the legacy of the British Empire are embedded in such practices. For over twenty years, Evans has been exploring recurring motifs that resonate not only with her personal biography as a Lagos-born, London-based artist, but also with contemporary identity politics and issues of belonging and alienation. An analysis of Evans’s recent work, including Willow Plate series (2013), Gingerbread (2012), and Held (2012), explicates the ways in which cultural and national ideologies are articulated through an exploration of personal and historical narratives of human experience. Evans’s silhouetted figures evoke racial and sexual stereotypes and thus powerfully communicate humanity’s historical tendency to categorize and prejudge. An investigation of how her early training, experiences abroad, and artist residencies specifically impacted her professional development contextualizes the works. In addition, a comparison of Evans’s work with the well-known oeuvre of Kara Walker highlights striking thematic differences despite intriguing similarities in both form and subject and demonstrates each artist’s unique talents in the medium of cut paper installation.

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