Carrie Mae Weems
|Carrie Mae Weems|
Carrie Mae Weems in 2013
April 20, 1953 |
Portland, Oregon, USA
|Education||BA, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia.
MFA, University of California, San Diego
|Awards||MacArthur Fellowship (2013), Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2007), Skowhegan Medal for Photography (2007), Rome Prize Fellowship (2006), Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in Photography (2002), College Art Association Distinguished Feminist Award (2016), National Artist Award Honoree by the Anderson Ranch Arts Center (2016)|
Carrie Mae Weems (born April 20, 1953) is an American artist who works with text, fabric, audio, digital images, and installation video but is best known for her work in the field of photography. Her award-winning photographs, films, and videos have been displayed in over 50 exhibitions in the United States and abroad and focus on serious issues that face African Americans today, such as racism, gender relations, politics, and personal identity. She has said, "Let me say that my primary concern in art, as in politics, is with the status and place of Afro-Americans in our country." More recently however, she expressed that “Black experience is not really the main point; rather, complex, dimensional, human experience and social inclusion ... is the real point.” 
Early life and education
Weems was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1953, the second of seven children to Myrlie and Carrie Weems. At the age of 16 she gave birth to her first and only child, a daughter named Faith C. Weems. Later that year she moved out of her parent's home and soon relocated to San Francisco to study modern dance with Anna Halprin at a workshop Halprin had started with several other dancers, as well as the artists John Cage and Robert Morris. She decided to continue her arts schooling and attended the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, graduating at the age of 28 with her B.A. She received her MFA from the University of California, San Diego. Weems also participated in the folklore graduate program at the University of California, Berkeley.
While in her early twenties, Carrie Mae Weems was politically active in the labor movement as a union organizer. Her first camera, which she received as a birthday gift from her then-boyfriend, was used for this work rather than for artistic purposes. She was inspired to pursue photography only after she came across The Black Photography Annual, a book of images by African-American photographers including Shawn Walker, Beuford Smith, Anthony Barboza, Ming Smith, Adger Cowans, and Roy DeCarava, which Weems found inspiring. This led her to New York City, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she began to meet other artists and photographers such as Frank Stewart and Coreen Simpson, and they began to form a community. In 1976 Weems took a photography class at the Museum taught by Dawoud Bey. She returned to San Francisco, but lived bi-coastally and was involved with the Studio Museum and a community of photographers in New York.
Career and work
In 1983, Carrie Mae Weems completed her first collection of photographs, text, and spoken word, called Family Pictures and Stories. The images told the story of her family, and she has said that in this project she was trying to explore the movement of black families out of the South and into the North, using her family as a model for the larger theme. Her next series, called Ain't Jokin', was completed in 1988. It focused on racial jokes and internalized racism. Another series called American Icons, completed in 1989, also focused on racism. Weems has said that throughout the 1980s she was turning away from the documentary photography genre, instead "creating representations that appeared to be documents but were in fact staged" and also "incorporating text, using multiples images, diptychs and triptychs, and constructing narratives."  Gender issues were the next focal point for her. It was the topic of one of her most well known collections called The Kitchen Table series which was completed in 1990. About Kitchen Table and Family Pictures and Stories, Weems has said, "I use my own constructed image as a vehicle for questioning ideas about the role of tradition, the nature of family, monogamy, polygamy, relationships between men and women, between women and their children, and between women and other women—underscoring the critical problems and the possible resolves."  She has expressed disbelief and concern about the exclusion of images of the black community, particularly black women, from the popular media, and aims to represent these excluded subjects and speak to their experience through her work. Weems has also reflected on the themes and inspirations of her work as a whole, saying,
"...from the very beginning, I've been interested in the idea of power and the consequences of power; relationships are made and articulated through power. Another thing that's interesting about the early work is that even though I've been engaged in the idea of autobiography, other ideas have been more important: the role of narrative, the social levels of humor, the deconstruction of documentary, the construction of history, the use of text, storytelling, performance, and the role of memory have all been more central to my thinking than autobiography."
Other series created by Weems include: the Sea Island Series (1991-92), the Africa Series (1993), From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995-96), Who What When Where (1998), Ritual & Revolution (1998), the Louisiana Project (2003), Roaming (2006), and the Museum Series, which she began in 2007. Her most recent project, Grace Notes: Reflections for Now, is a multimedia performance that explores "the role of grace in the pursuit of democracy."
In her almost 30-year career, Carrie Mae Weems has won numerous awards. She was named Photographer of the Year by the Friends of Photography. In 2005, she was awarded the Distinguished Photographer's Award in recognition of her significant contributions to the world of photography. Her talents have also been recognized by numerous colleges, including Harvard University and Wellesley College, with fellowships, artist-in-residence and visiting professor positions. She taught photography at Hampshire College in the late 1980s. She was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2013. In 2015 Weems was named a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow. In September 2015, the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research presented her with the W. E. B. Du Bois Medal.
The first comprehensive retrospective of her work opened in September 2012 at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, as a part of the center's exhibition Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video. Curated by Katie Delmez, the exhibition ran until January 13, 2013 and later traveled to Portland Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Cantor Center for Visual Arts. The 30-year retrospective exhibition opened in January 2014 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Weems' work returned to the Frist in October 2013 as a part of the center's 30 Americans gallery, alongside black artists ranging from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Kehinde Wiley.
A full-color, visual book of the same name as the exhibition was published by Yale University Press in October 2012. The book offers the first major survey of Weems' career and includes a collection of essays from leading and emerging scholars in addition to over 200 of Weems' most important works. The book is currently out of print
- Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, edited by Kathryn E. Delmez, Nashville, TN: Frist Center for the Visual Arts; New Haven, CT: in association with Yale University Press, 2012.
- Carrie Mae Weems, Carrie Mae Weems: the Louisiana Project, New Orleans, LA: Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, 2004.
- Vivan Patterson, Carrie Mae Weems: the Hampton Project, with essays by Frederick Rudolph, Constance W. Glenn, Deborah Willis-Kennedy, Jeanne Zeidler; interview by Denise Ramzy and Katherine Fogg, New York: Aperture; Williamstown, MA: Williams College Museum of Art, 2000.
- bell hooks, "Carrie Mae Weems: Diasporic Landscapes of Longing", in Catherine de Zegher (ed.), Inside the Visible, MIT Press, 1996.
- Brian Wallis, "Black Bodies, White Science: The Slave Daguerreotypes of Louis Agassiz," The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, (Summer, No. 12, 1996), 102-106.
- Nueva Luz photographic journal, Volume 2#4 (En Foco Inc, Bronx: 1989).
- Weems, Carrie Mae. "Biography". carriemaeweems.ne. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Rosenblum, Naomi (1994). A History of Women Photographers. New York: Abbeville Press. p. 325. ISBN 1558597611.
- "rebekahfilms.org". rebekahfilms.org. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- Daniel Tidwell. "nashvillearts.com". nashvillearts.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- "Carrie Mae Weems". Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- "EPISODE: "Compassion" | Art21". PBS. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- Willis-Thomas, Deborah (1989). An Illustrated Bio-Bibliography of Black Photographers, 1940-1988. New York: Garland Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 082408389X.
- "artnet.com". artnet.com. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- Sheets, Hilarie M. "Photographer and Subject Are One". New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- Bey, Dawoud, "Carrie Mae Weems", Bomb, Summer 2009. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- "Family Pictures and Stories, 1981–1982". carriemaeweems.net. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "nathanielturner.com". nathanielturner.com. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- Kisch, Andrea; Sterling, Susan Fisher (1994). Carrie Mae Weems. Washington D.C.: National Museum of Women in the Arts. pp. 14–15. ISBN 0940979217.
- Rothfuss, Joan; Carpenter, Elizabeth (2005). Bits & Pieces Put Together to Present a Semblance of a Whole: Walker Art Center Collections. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center. p. 580. ISBN 0935640789.
- Piché, Thomas, Jr; Golden, Thelma (1998). Carrie Mae Weems: recent work, 1992-1998. New York: George Braziller. ISBN 0807614440.
- "Carrie Mae Weems Responds". ArtNews. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- "GRACE NOTES: REFLECTIONS FOR NOW | Spoleto Festival USA 2016". spoletousa.org. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
- "womeninphotography.org". womeninphotography.org. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- "Carrie Mae Weems". MacArthur Fellows: Meet the Class of 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
- "Carrie Mae Weems : News". carriemaeweems.net. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
- "Carrie Mae Weems". Art in America. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- "Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video - Frist Center for the Visual Arts". fristcenter.org. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
- "30 Americans - Frist Center for the Visual Arts". fristcenter.org. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
- "Carrie Mae Weems - Delmez, Kathryn E.; Gates, Jr., Henry Louis; Sirmans, Franklin; Storr, Robert; Willis, Deborah - Yale University Press". yalepress.yale.edu. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
- "Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video", Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee
- "Carrie Mae Weems: Photographer and Video Artist", MacArthur Foundation. (2013, September 24).
- Sturtz, Ken. (2013, September 25). "Syracuse photographer receives prestigious MacArthur Fellowship", Syracuse.com
- Cotter, Holland. (2014, January 23). "Testimony of a Cleareyed Witness Carrie Mae Weems Charts the Black Experience in Photographs", NyTimes.com
- "From Here I Saw What Happened and Cried" Baltimore Museum of Art 1996 Chromogenic color prints and sand-blasted glass 2002.30a-b
- "House/Field/Yard/Kitchen" Baltimore Museum of Art 1996 Chromogenic color prints and sand-blasted glass 2002.31a-d