Black History By Carrie Mae Weems
In the US and Canada, February is dedicated to Black History. It is an annual observance for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African Diaspora. In the UK, Black History Month is in October. That is why The Soul Édition is celebrating it twice a year!
On this occasion we has decided to honor contemporary photographer and artist Carrie Mae Weems. For more than three decades she explored African Diaspora History through her work. She is a true inspiration for The Soul Édition.
Carrie Mae Weems explore issues of race, gender, identity family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems and the consequences of power. Weems’ work often confronts viewers with the issues of racism and frequently explores these themes through the lenses of both personal and American history.
Primarily working in photography and video, but also exploring everything from verse to performance, Weems explains that regardless of medium, activism is a central concern of her practice—specifically, looking at history as a way of better understanding the present. “Photography can be used as a powerful weapon toward instituting political and cultural change,” she says. “I for one will continue to work toward this end.”
She rose to prominence with her “Kitchen Table Series” in the early 1990s, whose photographs depict the artist seated at her kitchen table and examine various tropes and stereotypes of African-American life.
In 1993, Weems created Africa Series after her first visit to Africa, and combined photographs of African architectural structures with a story describing the origins of life.
Born in Portland, Oregon, Weems earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1981 and an MFA in Photography from the University of California, San Diego in 1984. From 1984 until 1987, Weems studied folklore at the University of California, Berkeley.
Weems cites Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston as writers who had a significant impact on her interests and artistic style. Weems’ work is included in many prestigious public collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Sevilla, Spain, among many others.
Weems has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships including the prestigious Prix de Roma, The National Endowment of the Arts, the Alpert, the Anonymous was a Woman and the Tiffany Awards. In 2012, Weems was presented with one of the first US Department of State’s Medals of Arts in recognition for her commitment to the State Department’s Art in Embassies program. In 2013 Weems received the MacArthur “Genius” grant as well as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014 she received the BET Honors Visual Artist award, the Lucie Award for Fine Art photography and was one of 4 artists honored at the Guggenheim’s International Gala.
She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, NY and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
She currently lives and works in upstate New York. Weems has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery since 2008. Her exhibitions with the gallery include Slow Fade to Black (2010), Signs Taken for Wonders (2009) curated by Isolde Brielmaier, Carrie Mae Weems: A Survey (2008) and The Whole World is Rotten (2005). Carrie Mae Weems: A Survey (2008) and The Whole World is Rotten (2005).
Did you know her work?
Pictures with the courtesy of Shainman Gallery
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