Carrie Mae Weems is an artist who has worked toward developing a complex body of art that has at various times employed photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and, most recently, video over her twenty-five year career. Through her work she has investigated family relationships, gender roles, the histories of racism, sexism, class, and various political systems. I’m particularly by The Kitchen Table Series (1990).
To create the Carrie Mae Weems would center herself at the end of a kitchen table and compose vignettes about the life cycle of a romance, the camaraderie among female friends, the demands of motherhood and finally her solitude, all unfolding at the table under a harsh, expository overhanging light. These photographs in “Kitchen Table Series,” completed in 1990, are accompanied by 14 panels recounting the path of a 38-year-old woman with a “bodacious manner, varied talents, hard laughter, multiple opinions,” as a panel says, who resists classification and embraces complexity.
Some of Carrie Mae Weems’ earlier works include Family Pictures and Stories(1978-1984), Ain’t Jokin’ (1987-1988), Colored People (1989-1990), and the Kitchen Table series (1990). Ain’t Jokin’ and Colored People, and the Kitchen Table Series were increasingly complex and layered works that were developed after Family Pictures and Stories. The artist’s attention was directed on themes of the African diaspora through works, Sea Islands series (1991-1992), Africa (1993), Slave Coast (1993), and Landed in Africa (1993). Carrie Mae Weems began a trilogy of large-scale fabric installations that resulted in Ritual & Revolution (1998), The Jefferson Suite(1999), and The Hampton Project (2000). She has also ventured in video installations with works like Coming Up for Air (2004) and The Obama Project (2012).
Update: September 27th, 2013
Carrie Mae Weems is one of 24 artists who have been awarded the 2013 MacArthur Fellowship. Read her interview on NY Times Lens.