Contemporary Artist & MacArthur Genius Award Winner, CARRIE MAE WEEMS comes to the Baltimore Museum of Art



Carrie Mae Weems. © John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


"One of the 100 most powerful women of all time!"

-EBONY Magazine


"One of the more interesting artists working in the gap between art and politics."

- Roberta Smith, The New York Times


APRIL 25, 2017. In 1974 Carrie Mae Weems picked up a 35-mm camera and began blazing a path, where few African American women had traveled. For four decades, she has used photography and video to examine the complex and contradictory legacy of African American identity, class, and culture in the United States. In the process, she built a critically acclaimed, internationally recognized practice. In 2014, Weems became the first African-American woman to receive a retrospective at New York's Guggenheim in its 56-year history. In 2016 she received the National Artist Award, given to artists who have innovated in their fields and across disciplines. And in 2013, she received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.

On May 4, 2017, Weems is coming to the Baltimore Museum of Art for "Building An Inclusive Baltimore." The FREE symposium, which starts at 6:30 p.m., also features thought leaders in conflict resolution, behavioral science and the arts including Mark Muller, United Nations Envoy to Syria, Jeannie Howe, Executive Director of Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, Former South African Ambassador. The event is an opportunity to explore new strategies for organizations to more meaningfully engage with and reflect their communities.

The Syracuse-based artist is intimately familiar with social inclusion in America. Her portraits of children, adults, and families in simple settings, document and interpret the ongoing and centuries-old struggle for racial equality and human rights. In images that are lyrical and evocative, Weems unites critical social insight with enduring aesthetic mastery. Her signature works include Ain’t Joking (1987), The Kitchen Table Series (1990) and The Louisiana Project (2004).

In her 1995-96 series, “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried,” she applied deep red hues to daguerreotypes of slaves, deconstructing the original photographs, which were used to craft racist narratives on the supposed inferiority of African Americans. Her gift is the juxtaposition of the harsh realities of discrimination with the dignity and resilience of the human character in everyday life.


Untitled, frUntitled, from the Kitchen Table Serieso

Untitled, from the Kitchen Table Series


Weems is just as comfortable in front of the camera as she is behind it. She's often appeared in her own works - most notably as the protagonist in The Kitchen Table Series - the story of one woman’s life, as conducted in the intimate setting of her kitchen. In 20 photographs, her story reveals her relationships — with lovers, children, friends — and her own sense of self, in her varying states of strength, vulnerability, aloofness, tenderness and solitude. As Weems describes it, this work of art depicts "the battle around the family ... monogamy ... and between the sexes." Her work moves beyond race to explore the universal implications of gender and power. Last year, the series became a book, "Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series," was selected for's 'Best Photo Books of Spring 2016.'


Weems work is currently on view in two shows:

We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85, at the Brooklyn Museum, through September 2017 and

Viewpoints at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle through June 2017

In Syracuse, New York, Weems works with two social reform efforts: 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. She received a B.F.A. (1981) from the California Institute of the Arts and an M.F.A. (1984) from the University of California at San Diego, and she studied at the University of California at Berkeley from 1984 to 1987. Weems work has been exhibited at such national and international venues as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, the Tate Liverpool, and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.