The New York Times Style Magazine (T) celebrates Carrie Mae Weems (Art BFA 81) in its recent 2018 Greats issue for her continued contributions to contemporary photography and activism.
In her introductory note, Hanya Yanagihara, editor of T magazine, describes the magazine’s selection process. Weems is one of five “greats,” with Solange, George R.R. Martin, Alessandro Michele, Bruce Nauman and Viggo Mortensen rounding out the list. “Not only has each created something singular,” Yanagihara writes. “But they have all in some way, helped steer the cultural discourse.”
With a career spanning nearly five decades, Weems has worked across multiple media including: photography, text, video and installation. Addressing questions concerning the consequences of power, exclusion, race and gender, Weems fearlessly places African American women and working class communities at the forefront of narrative.
Her work has become more recognized by wider audiences for its universal message, but it continues to remain highly culturally specific. The Kitchen Table Series (1989-90) acted as an intimate window into black domestic spaces through the transformation of Weems’ own dining room. She acts as a stand-in for a character of her own design. Weems returns to that motif in her series Museums (2006-present). She stares down the columns and walls of art’s beloved institutions, including the Louvre, London’s British Museum and Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome.
In 2013, Weems was awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant; one year later she became the first African-American woman to exhibit a retrospective in the Guggenheim Museum.
Currently, Weems is showing her retrospective exhibition, Strategies of Engagement, featuring 124 diverse works and re-created installations at Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art through Dec. 13.
— Brigitte Ugarte
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