Carrie Mae Weems
(born 1953, Portland, Oregon; lives and works in upstate New York)
Storytelling is fundamental in Carrie Mae Weems’s work. For three decades, Weems has created socially engaged, conceptual work in photography, video, mixed media and installation. Using narratives both personal and universal, Weems addresses what scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. calls “the complex web of gender, race, sexuality, class, family and community that catches us all.”
The works on view here are part of “Performance Gestures” (2004−07), a series of photographs in which Weems casts herself as a clown-like salesman of hopes and dreams, channeling influences including Faust, a character in German legend whose name signifies moral compromise in exchange for limited success and power. Weems began “Performance Gestures” in direct response to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, which was marked by mass protests and arrests. While audiences generally only see her performances through the camera lens, in this case Weems took her alter ego to the streets, offering a public critique of contemporary American political discourse.
Carrie Mae Weems received her BFA from California Institute of the Arts (1981) and her MFA in photography from the University of California, San Diego (1984). She also studied in the graduate program in Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Her solo exhibitions include Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, (2012, traveling); Carrie Mae Weems: Maddening Crowd, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX (2011); Carrie Mae Weems: Slow Fade to Black, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA, and Downstreet Art at the Legacy, Legacy Gallery, North Adams, MA (2011); Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series, Art Institute of Chicago (2011); Carrie Mae Weems: Estudios Sociales / Carrie Mae Weems: Social Studies, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville, Spain (2010); Slow Fade to Black, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (2010); Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment, Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco (2009, traveling); Carrie Mae Weems: A Survey, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (2008); Carrie Mae Weems: The Louisiana Project and Dreaming in Cuba, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2004); From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg (2003); Photographic Visions of Carrie Mae Weems, Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, Eatonville, FL (2003); Carrie Mae Weems: The Hampton Project, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA (2000, traveling); Recent Work: Carrie Mae Weems, 1992–98, Everson Art Museum, Syracuse, NY (1998–99); Who What When Where, Whitney Museum of American Art at Phillip Morris, New York (1998–99); Ritual and Revolution, DAK’ART 98: Biennale of Contemporary Art, Galerie Nationale d’Art, Dakar, Senegal (1998–99); Second Johannesburg Biennale, Africus Institute for Contemporary Art, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997); From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, P・P・O・W, New York and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago (1996); and Carrie Mae Weems: The Kitchen Table Series, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (1996). Weems has participated in such group exhibitions as Blues for Smoke, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012–13, traveling); This Will Have Been: Art, Love, and Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2012, traveling); The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC (2010, traveling); Performing for the Camera, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe (2012); Intense Proximity, Art as Network, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973–1991, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase (2011, traveling); Narrative Interventions in Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011–12); Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment, Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African American Studies, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY (2011); Off the Wall, Part 1: Thirty Performative Actions, organized by Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010); Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1980s to the Present, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University (2009, traveling); Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008, traveling); Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2007–09); Black Panther Rank and File, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2006, traveling); Legacies: Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery, New York Historical Society (2006–7); Black Alphabet: Contexts of Contemporary African American Art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland (2006); and Double Exposure: African Americans Before and Behind the Camera, Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, CT (2005, traveling).