Regarded as one of the most influential artists working today, American artist Carrie Mae Weems explores themes of identity, power, and social relationships. Her progressive body of work, which spans over three decades, incorporates photography, video, digital imagery, installation, performance, sound, and text.Read More
Born in Portland, Oregon, Weem's initial interest was in street theatre and dance. Studying modern dance under Anna Halprin in the 1970s, performance persists within her broader practice today.
After receiving her first camera as a gift in 1973, Weems took up courses in photography and design at San Francisco City College the following year. She later earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts and an MFA in photography from the University of California San Diego, before joining the graduate programme in Folklore at the University of California Berkeley.
Carrie Mae Weems' art explores personal and familial themes, while also reflecting the broader Black experience and Black history. Text, audio, and spoken word often punctuate the confronting themes of her work.
Weems' 'Family Pictures and Stories' (1981–1982) was her first major series. The documentary-style series, drawing on photographs taken during the late 1970s, features candid and intimate images of friends, relatives, and neighbours inspired by writer Zora Neale Hurston and photographer Roy DeCarava.
Reflecting her performative roots, Weems soon turned to featuring herself in her photographs, adopting different personas as a means to examine social norms. In Portrait of a Woman Who Has Fallen From Grace (1987), Weems challenges imposed societal standards of 'grace' as she provocatively sprawls out on a bed, dressed in white, cigarette in hand.
In many of her seminal photographic works, Weems employs text, often written in startling vernacular. In Mirror, Mirror (1987), from the series 'Ain't Jokin'' (1987–1988), a woman asks a mirror, 'Who's the finest of them all?' only to be told, 'Snow White, you black bitch, and don't you forget it!!!' Such text accentuates a critical examination of inherited social narratives around race and ideals of 'femininity'.
Weems is best known for 'The Kitchen Table Series' (1990): simple black-and-white photos of a young Black woman at home—alone, with friends, a romantic partner, her daughter. In the images, the artist plays a woman described in the work as having a 'bodacious manner, varied talents, hard laughter, [and] multiple opinions.'
From the late 1990s, Weems began to embrace video technology in her work. Her first major feature-length work, Coming Up for Air (2003–2004), presents a series of vignettes depicting archival footage, squabbling sisters, schoolchildren, and relationships between Black men and white women in pre-civil war New Orleans.
Her 2017 short films People of a Darker Hue and Imagine If This Were You approach the circumstances and realities of police brutality against African Americans.
Weems has collaborated on several projects for public spaces with Social Studies 101, an arts collective she co-founded in 2002. In 2011 the collective staged the anti-violence campaign 'Operation: Activate', producing billboards, signs, and matchbooks emblazoned with slogans. In 2017, Weems participated in a Billboard Project with three emerging artists that hightlighted marginalised communities in Syracuse, New York.
In 2020, Carrie Mae Weems launched Resist COVID/Take 6!. Another collaboration with Social Studies 101, the artist-driven campaign spotlights how people of colour are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Weems received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013 and a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award that same year. Later she became the first African American woman to have a retrospective at New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, entitled Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography & Video.
In 2020, she was named a Rolex Mentor alongside Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Phyllida Lloyd. In 2021, she was a co-recipient of the Artes Mundi 9 Prize. Weems also has five honorary degrees.
Carrie Mae Weems has exhibited internationally in important solo and group exhibitions, including in commercial galleries and in museums.
In addition to this exhibition, the artist has participated in the following select solo exhibitions, including A Land of Broken Dreams, Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, (2021); The Usual Suspects, LSU Museum of Art, Baton Rouge, LA (2018); Carrie Mae Weems: Considered, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Gerogia (2016); Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography & Video, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014); The Hampton Project, International Center of Photography, New York (2001); Carrie Mae Weems, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (1993); And 22 Million Very Tired and Very Angry People, New Museum, New York (1991).
The artist has participated in the following select group exhibitions: Off The Record, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2021); Never Done: 100 Years of Women in Politics & Beyond, Tang Teaching Museum & Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs (2020); We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2018); Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Double Exposure: African Americans Before & Behind the Camera, Wadsworth Athenæum, Hartford, Conneticut (2005); Pictures from Within: American Photographs, 1958–2002, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); Who's Looking at the Family?, Barbican, London (1994); and Urban Home, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (1990).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2021
The announcement follows news last week that the gallery now represents Donald Judd and the Judd Foundation.
The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami spotlights the poignant practice of Michael Richards.
Curated by Gagosian's newest director Antwaun Sargent, Social Works celebrates community empowerment while confronting histories of erasure.
In an increasingly usual move, each of the nominees will receive a share of the contemporary art prize.
The billboards going up around the country this week will have a familiar message for this midterm election: Vote. But featuring images of protests and reminders of the 2016 election, produced by some