Recent Work: Carrie Mae Weems, 1992-1998
Recent Work: Carrie Mae Weems, 1992-1998, a survey of five series of works by Syracuse-based phatographer Carrie Mae Weems, opened at the Everson Museum of Art on Friday, September 25 and will remain on view through February 14, 1999. The exhibition was curated by Everson Senior Curator Thomas Piche Jr.
An artist committed to social change, Carrie Mae Weems has created artwork that examines, among other subjects, issues of race and racism, class and classism, gender and sexism. Although primarily known as a photographer, in the course of her twenty-year career, Weems has also employed written texts, banners, commemorative plates, sound, and sculpture.
These various media have been combined to create a rich array of documentary series, still lifes, narrative tableaux, and installation pieces. Throughout her work, Weems's (under)stated goal has been to "describe simply and directly those aspects of America culture in need of deeper illumination."
Recent Work: Carrie Mae Weems, 1992-1998, includes works from five series that have been created in the last six years, including the Sea Islands Series (1992), the Africa Series , (1993), From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995), Who What When Where, and Ritual & Revolution (both from 1998). This is the first sustained survey of the artist's work since a retrospective of Weem's work organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 1993, and takes up at the point where that exhibition ended.
Although each of Weems's series is a distinct and whole work in itself, each shares and compounds the concerns that the artist has engaged from the beginning: "I want to make things that are beautiful, seductive, formally challenging and culturally meaningful," says Weems. 'Pm also committed to radical social change. Any form of human injustice moves me deeply...the battle against all forms of oppression keeps me going and keeps me focused." In her most recent series, Weems leads us to consider and to share what we know about our collective folkways, about life at the beginning of time, and the culture of slavery; she involves us in questioning whether art making has the ability to impact society; and leaves us with a haunting and ephemeral ode to history.
"Carrie Mae Weems possesses a rare combination of critical insight and aesthetic understanding, which she uses to produce artworks that examine some of the most important social concerns of our time," says Piche. "Her work invites us to consider the issues of racism, sexism, and classism, topics we typically avoid because they are tough, contentious, and require serious thought. But Weems also creates art objects that are beautiful thus she seduces our eye as she engages our mind."
"This exhibition represents a central New York debut of sorts for Carrie Mae Weems, who has recently moved home and studio to Syracuse, and (we) are indeed fortunate to have this opportunity to present her work to the community," said Everson Director Sandra Trop. "Our artistic and cultural lives will certainly be the richer for her presence and we can all look forward to experiencing the continued results of her enormous energy and talent."
Weems was born in Portland, Oregon, and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia and a master of fine arts degree fiom the University of California at San Diego. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, among them Who What When Where at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1998; Projects 52 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1995; and Carrie Mae Weems Reacts to Hidden Witness at the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, Malibu, California, in 1995. She has been represented in many group shows worldwide, among them the Johannesburg Biennial in 1997 and the 1991 Biennial and Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, both at the Whitney Museum.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue,
published by George Braziller Publishers and containing essays by Piche
and Thelma Golden, curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Recent
Work: Carrie Mae Weems, 1992-1998 is made possible with funding from
The Rosamond Gifford Charitable Corporation, the Central New York Community
Foundation, public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a
state agency, Lannan Foundation, The Peter Norton Family Foundation, Carrier
Corporation, and the Chase Manhattan Foundation.
From top to bottom: from Sea Islands Series: Carrie
Mae Weems, Untitled (House), 1991-92, three silver prints, two text panels.
20 x20 inches each, photo courtesy of the artist and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New
York City. Photo by Adam Reich; from Who What When Where: Carrie
Mae Weems, Who What When Where (installation), includes Saving
Capital, 1998, dgital photo on canvas, color pigment, 120 x240 inches,
photo by D. James Dee, and Tatlin's Monument for the Future,
1998, steel, 74 x 66 x 87 inches, photo by D. James Dee; from From Here
I Saw What Happened and I Cried: Carrie Mae Weems, House, 1995,
C-print with sandblasted text on glass, 26 3/4 x 22 3/4 inches, courtesy
Museum of Modem Art, photo by D. James Dee.
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