Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power. Determined as ever to enter the picture—both literally and metaphorically—Weems has sustained an on-going dialogue within contemporary discourse for over thirty years. During this time, Carrie Mae Weems has developed a complex body of art employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video.
In images that are lyrical and evocative, Weems unites critical social insight with enduring aesthetic mastery. Her signature works over three decades—Ain’t Joking (1987), The Kitchen Table Series (1990), From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995), The Louisiana Project (2004), Roaming (2006)—juxtapose the harsh realities of race, class, and gender discrimination with the dignity and resilience of the human character in everyday life. She enriches the traditional black-and-white cinéma vérité style with African American folklore, multimedia collage, and experimental printing methods, and in many of her prints, she casts herself as silent witness and guiding avatar through “fictional documentaries” in contemporary surroundings or historical recreations. Resurrecting lives and legacies invisible in plain sight, familiar but unseen, Weems creates a poignant and revealing visual archive of the human condition.
Recently, she has extended her talent to social reform efforts in Syracuse, New York, with projects such as Operation Activate, a public art campaign to create awareness of an initiative to stop gun violence, and the Institute of Sound and Style, a pilot summer program that engages local youth in experiential training in visual art. An extraordinary photographer and social activist, Weems is demonstrating the power of art to directly impact a community broadly, beyond patrons of museums or private exhibitions.
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