The Louisianna Project, 2003
Weems came of age in the 1960s and early ’70s in the US, amidst the Civil Rights Movement and second-wave feminism. When she got hold of her first camera in 1973, a 20th birthday present, she was working with a Marxist organization in San Francisco where she lived with her young daughter. Like many artists questioning cultural myths and social conventions around this time, it was through photography that she found a way into the complicated power structures and histories she wanted to redress. Since the 1980s, most often via conceptual photographic series, Weems has recalibrated the visual cues through which we read and understand gender, class and, most powerfully, race. If this makes her work sound didactic or antagonistic, it’s neither. Weems has an intractable belief in the capacity for compassion that inflects her work with wit and generosity.
During the past twenty-five years, I have worked toward developing a complex body of art that has at various times employed photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and, most recently, video. My work has led me to investigate family relationships, gender roles, the histories of racism, sexism, class, and various political systems. Despite the variety of my explorations, throughout it all it has been my contention that my responsibility as an artist is to work, to sing for my supper, to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the roof-tops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specifics of our historic moment.
Artist Website: http://carriemaeweems.net/index.html
Colored People, 1989-1990