[Self-portraits by Carrie Mae Weems, Käthe Kollwitz, Judy Baca, and Frida Kahlo, text “Never apologize for selfies”]
Wanted to get modern women artists and some WOC up in this one. If you reblog it would be cool if you kept the part in the brackets so these artists, two of whom are still working, will get credit–this conversational part below is nbd.
Carrie Mae Weems, You Became a Scientific Profile (top), An Anthropological Debate (middle), and And I Cried (bottom) from From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995–96. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Copyright Carrie Mae Weems.
Although I am obsessed with all of Weems’ work, there is a special place in my heart for her The Kitchen Table Series. I think what gets me about this series is the simplicity; The ability to convey so much from one scene, one location, one family is amazing.
What with planning for her retrospective at the Guggenheim, helping inner-city youth enter the music business, fighting gun violence in an advertising campaign, and managing to get a peony named after an African American hero, Carrie Mae Weems was pretty busy even before she got The Call last week from the MacArthur Foundation. So the news that she won a “genius grant” added another whirlwind of activity on her already intimidating schedule.
“I was floored,” the artist said on the speakerphone from her car as she raced between engagements in Syracuse, New York, where she lives and teaches. “It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard.”
Along with the 23 other MacArthur recipients this year, Weems will receive $625,000 over the next five years, no strings attached.
“I’ll buy a new dress and a new pair of shoes for sure,” she says. “But everything will go back into my work because that’s what I do. It will go to the projects I care about.”
A charismatic artist, activist, and educator, Weems is best known for installations, videos, and photographs that invite the viewer to reflect on issues of race, gender, and class.
A wry wit infuses even her most uncompromising works, which comment on stereotypes, slavery, miscegenation, and the exclusion of blacks—as artists and subjects—from Western art history. Her traveling retrospective, which began at the Frist Center in Nashville last year and opens at its final stop, the Guggenheim, on January 24, includes the naughty “Ain’t Jokin’” series (1987-88); “The Kitchen Table Series” (1990) photographs of domestic scenes that inspired Mickalene Thomas to be an artist; and the fabulous Afro-Chic fashion video (2009), among some 200 objects Weems has produced over the last three decades.
She’s been talking to Guggenheim staff about ways to jumpstart a demographic shift in the museum’s typical audience.
“ I want to make sure I have a dynamic presence of people of color flowing through the space,” she says. One idea she’s thinking about is a live-broadcast performative conversation, maybe something along the lines of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. Maybe with a comic and a house band.
“There could be a night around art and activism, with people who are troubling the waters, as they say,” she comments. “A night called Laughing to Keep from Crying or, Jewish Comedy, Black Comedy, and the Power of Resistance.”
Untitled (Man and mirror), from “The Kitchen Table Series," 1990, gelatin silver print. COURTESY JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY. Carrie Mae Weems & Social Studies 101, Operation: Activate, 2011.COURTESY THE ARTIST. The Du Bois Peony of Hope, officially named by the American Peony Society, is part of a Du Bois Memorial Garden that Weems designed in collaboration with landscape architect Walter J. Hood. COURTESY THE ARTIST. Untitled (Man smoking), from "The Kitchen Table Series,” 1990, gelatin silver print. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK. Carrie Mae Weems, Mirror Mirror, from the series “Ain’t Jokin’,” 1987-1988, gelatin silver print. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK. May Flowers, from the series “May Days Long Forgotten,” 2002, digital chromogenic print. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK. Some Said You Were the Spitting Image of Evil, from the series “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried,” 1995-96, chromogenic print with etched text on glass. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND JACK SHAINMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK.
“This body of work was inspired in part by the influential essay ”Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema“ (1975) by the critic Laura Mulvey, which addressed the lack of nonobjectified representations of women in film and other cultural expressions. Like Family Pictures and Stories, the series offers a valid portrait of an often overlooked subject, in this case, a modern black woman, "the other of the other.” The images trace a period in the woman’s life as she experiences the blossoming, then loss, of love, the responsibilities of motherhood, and the desire to be an engaged and contributing member of her community. The protagonist is Weems herself - a practice that will continue throughout the next decades of her career. The role of words has become more prominent with fourteen stand-alone text panels that relay the at times rocky narrative. Near the end, the woman stands alone, strong and self-reliant, looking directly at the viewer, her arms squarely planted on her kitchen table, where the entire story has unfolded under a light of interrogation. Although Kitchen Table Series depicts a black subject and is loosely related to her own experiences, Weems strives for it to reflect the experiences of Everywoman and to resonate across racial and class boundaries.“
Kathryn E. Delmez, edit.,Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2012), 76.
Carrie Mae Weems, Wilfredo, Laura, and Me (top) and Listening for the Sounds of Revolution (bottom) from Dreaming in Cuba, 2002. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Copyright Carrie Mae Weems.