With a career spanning more than 35 years, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated family relationships, racial and cultural identities, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences and disparities of power.
Determined as ever to enter the picture — both literally and metaphorically — Weems has sustained an ongoing dialogue within contemporary discourse, investigating what she, in a nod to the Black American poet and scholar, Amiri Baraka, calls “the changing same”.
During this time, Carrie Mae Weems has developed a complex body of work employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video. Her work shifts between interrogating found images, and generating new staged photography and film. The content of her ongoing project is to understand, to tease out of the image, the conditions of living. Her work provokes a double bind between the viewer and the subject, often with uncomfortable and disquieting results. The Shape of Things encompasses and reveals consistent themes and methods harnessed in Weems’s larger body of work.
With cinematic and special effect techniques drawn from earlier times, such as dioramas, side-shows, and a Pepper’s Ghost, The Shape of Things is an incisive, powerfully emotional and critical reflection on subjects both deeply embedded in American culture and history and the explosive events of recent years. This monumental series of installations continues LUMA Arles’s commitment to producing complex exhibitions by today’s most compelling artists. Initiated by the Park Avenue Armory in New York City in 2021, The Shape of Things takes a new and expanded form in LUMA Arles. While much of the work is set within the United States, it is easy to see comparisons with the political and social realities and disruptions of Europe and beyond. Weems seems to suggest most poignantly that we cannot rise to the challenges of our times without confronting the realities of our past.
Carrie Mae Weems
With a career spanning more than 35 years, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated family relationships, racial and cultural identities, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences and disparities of power. Determined as ever to enter the picture—both literally and metaphorically — Weems has sustained an ongoing dialogue within contemporary discourse, investigating what she, in a nod to the Black American poet and scholar, Amiri Baraka, calls “the changing same”.
In a New York Times review of her retrospective, Holland Cotter wrote, “Ms. Weems is what she has always been, a superb image maker and a moral force, focused and irrepressible."
Weems has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frist Center for Visual Art, Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, Spain.
Weems has received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the prestigious Prix de Roma, The National Endowment of the Arts, The Herb-Alpert, The Anonymous Was a Woman, and The Tiffany Awards. In 2012, Weems was presented with one of the first US Department of State’s Medals of Arts in recognition for her commitment to the State Department’s Art in Embassies program.
In 2013 Weems received the MacArthur “Genius” grant as well as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also received the BET Honors Visual Artist award, the Lucie Award for Fine Art photography, was one of four artists honored at the Guggenheim’s 2014 International Gala, a recipient of the ICP Spotlights Award from the International Center of Photography, The W.E.B Du Bois Award from Harvard University, as well as Honorary Degrees from: California College of the Arts, Colgate University, Bowdoin College, the School of Visual Arts and Syracuse University.
She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and The Tate Modern, London.
Weems has been represented by Jack Shainman Gallery since 2008, and is currently Artist in Residence at the Park Avenue Armory. She lives in Syracuse, New York, with her husband Jeffrey Hoone who is Executive Director of Light Work.