Edwards - Weems - Kewis
From left, Adrienne Edwards, Carrie Mae Weems, and Sarah Lewis.

 

ANDERSON RANCH IN SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., presented Carrie Mae Weems with its National Artist Award yesterday. The honor capped a weeklong celebration of the arts center’s 50th anniversary. Over the past few years, Weems has received more than a dozen awards, including a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2013. The long-deserved accolades recognize her pathbreaking, three-decade practice which has served as a beacon for the next generation of artists, particularly black female artists.

Exploring identity, family relationships, gender roles, and race, class, and social justice issues, Weems’s photography-based practice often employs text, audio, video, digital images, fabric, and installation. Recent collaborations with a pair of fast-rising curators—Sarah Lewis, an assistant professor at Harvard University and author of “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery” and Adrienne Edwards, a curator at Performa and the Walker Art Center—further demonstrate the currency and innovation of Weems’s work then and now, and how a sisterhood of support buoys creativity and opportunity.

Collaborations with a pair of fast-rising curators further demonstrate the currency and innovation of Weems’s work then and now.

carrie mae weems - kitchen table series
“Kitchen Table Series” documents one of Carrie Mae Weems’s earliest photography series and features written contributions by Adrienne Edwards and Sarah Lewis. | (Damiani/Matsumoto Editions, 86 pages) Hardcover, Published April 26, 2016

 

KITCHEN TABLE SERIES
Published in April, “Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series” is dedicated to one of Weems’s earliest and most acclaimed bodies of work. Created in 1990, the photographic series explores domesticity and relationships, both familial and romantic, in a space traditionally central to female identity. Weems has cast herself as the protagonist in the images, but represents an archetype. A foreword by Lewis and an essay by Edwards are the sole writings included in the volume which features image plates of all 20 photographs and 14 text panels in the series, published in its entirety for the first time.

“A work of art gains altitude over time if it gestures to a universal horizon. At the heart of the Kitchen Table Series is an answer to an eternal question: how do we find our own power?” writes Lewis. “…the animating focus is about coming into our own, how any quest for sovereignty is shaped not just by longing, striving towards a newly enlarged vision of one’s self in the world. Some art seems to capture the synoptic arc of life and how it is that we develop. The Kitchen Table Series is one such enduring work.”

Some art seems to capture the synoptic arc of life and how it is that we develop. The Kitchen Table Series is one such enduring work.”
— Sarah Lewis, foreword to “Kitchen Table Series”

aperture no 223 summer 2016
Edited by Sarah Lewis, the “Vision & Justice” issue of Aperture magazine was produced with two different covers: A color portrait by Awol Erizku, “Untitled (Forces of Nature #1),” 2014; and a black-and-white image of Martin Luther King Jr., with his father, Martin Luther King, and his son, Martin Luther King III, in Atlanta on March 22, 1963, by Richard Avedon.

 

VISION & JUSTICE
Inspired by the first course Lewis taught at Harvard University, “Vision & Justice” considers the historic and contemporary role of photography in the African American experience. Guested edited by Lewis, the special Summer 2016 issue of Aperture magazine is stunning, a visual feast rife wth important voices and insightful scholarship, observations, engagement, and journalism. The publication features reviews, essays, conversations and images contributed by an impressive slate of artists and photographers, curators and scholars. Among them, Dawoud Bey, Jennifer Blessing, Katori Hall, Robin Kelsey, and Salamishah Tillet, offer reflections on Weems’s “Kithcen Table Seres.”

Forthcoming next month, a parallel “Vision & Justice” exhibition curated by Lewis will be mounted at Harvard Art Museums (August 2016-January 2017).

 

carrrie mae weems - grace notes
Directed by Carrie Mae Weems and curated by Sarah Lewis, Grace Notes was performed in Charleston, S.C. in June 2016 and will be staged at Yale in September.| Image via Spoleta Festival USA

 

GRACE NOTES
At the Spoleta Festival in Charleston, S.C., Weems’s presented “Grace Notes: Reflections for Now” (June 4 and 5). An exploration of grace and humanity in the face of violence, she was originally moved to create the poignant work after seeing President Obama sing “Amazing Grace when he gave the eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine mass shooting victims at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Pushing her practice into new territory, the performance is a mix of song, poetry, and video projection featuring a cast of artists, composers and musicians, including Alicia Hall Moran, Imani Uzuri, James Newton, and Aja Monet. Directed by Weems and curated by Lewis, the “immersive experience asks: what is the role of grace in the pursuit of democracy?”

Lewis told the Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston that Weems was the right artist for the subject because she is “capable of understanding the connection between art, citizenship and race.”

Carrie Mae Weems was the right artist for the subject because she is “capable of understanding the connection between art, citizenship and race.” — Post and Courier

“Grace Notes: Reflections for Now” is being reprised at the Yale Repertory Theater in New Haven, Conn. (Sept. 9 and 10, 2016).

 

Carrie Mae Weems String Theory, 2016 No. 63045 Format of original photography: high res tiff
CARRIE MAE WEEMS, “String Theory,” 2016 (archival pigment print on textured rag paper), is featured in the exhibition “Blackness in Abstraction,” curated by Adrienne Edwards. | Image courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photograph courtesy the artist. © Carrie Mae Weems

 

BLACKNESS IN ABSTRACTION
Currently on view at Pace Gallery in New York, “Blackness in Abstraction” is curated by Edwards. Pairing African American contemporary artists including Weems, Wangechi Mutu, Glenn Ligon, and Adam Pendleton, with modern figures such as Louis Nevleson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Sol Lewitt, the group exhibition examines the power of the color black as an evocative force that spans mediums. It explores the persistent presence of black in art since the 1940s, and its expressive and symbolic possibilities.

Edwards spoke to Culture Type about the exhibition and said it provided an opportunity to recast the way in which Weems’s work is categorized. “Carrie Mae Weems has been doing this since the late 80s and no one has ever talked about it. She has been circulating around Minimalism, in particular, from the late 80s,” said Edwards.

 

READ Culture Talk interview with Adrienne Edwards about “Blackness in Abstraction” exhibition

 


Adrienne Edwards reads excerpts from her essay in ” Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series,” and then discusses the book and “Grace Notes” with Weems. | Video by Strand Book Store

 

IN DIALOGUE

On June 29, Edwards and Weems engaged in a conversation about “Kitchen Table Series” at Strand Book Store in New York. When Edwards introduced Weems, she said: “I especially want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Carrie for inviting me to do this, for the pleasure of being in dialogue with you over years. I am indebted to you in so many ways and most grateful. Thank you.”

“I especially want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Carrie for inviting me to do this, for the pleasure of being in dialogue with you over years. I am indebted to you in so many ways and most grateful.”
— Adrienne Edwards, Strand Book Store

Weems came forward, took her seat and responded in kind. “It is very important for me to work with younger artists like Adrienne and Sarah because the work was made so long ago,” Weems told the audience. “It was very important to have a sense of how the work was impacting, being felt, understood, theorized, embraced, or disregarded by another generation of women. So thank you, thank you very much for your analysis, for your thinking, your probing, and the questions you ask of the work.” CT

 

BOOKSHELF
“Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series” features for the first time all 20 photographs and 14 text panels from one of the artist’s earliest series, and contributions by Sarah Lewis and Adrienne Edwards. “Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video” coincided with Weems’s traveling retrospective which concluded at the Guggenheim in 2014. The “Vision & Justice” issue is sold out until September at Aperture, copies are still available on Amazon. Sarah Lewis authored “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery,” which is “part investigation into a psychological mystery, part an argument about creativity and art, and part a soulful celebration of the determination and courage of the human spirit.” “Blackness in Abstraction,” the catalog accompanying the exhibition was written by Adrienne Edwards and designed by artist Adam Pendleton.