Carrie Mae Weems

(Portland, Oregon, 1953 - )

Untitled (Woman with friends) from the Kitchen Table Series


Gelatin silver print

27 1/4 x 27 1/4 in. (69.3 x 69.3 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media

1996.4 a-c

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Carrie Mae Weems has always placed African American experience, culture and history at the center of her art. Through them, she conveys the experiences of people affected by prejudice and lack of power. Her approach to photography is conceptual rather than documentary. Her art juxtaposes text and image, past and present and the subjective ear of the folklorist with the supposedly objective eye of the camera, urging us to question our perceptions and history as it is written. The museum owns work from four series by the artist. The earliest, 'Colored People', investigates terms used to describe different colors of skin, revealing black stereotypes about blacks. Weems next turned to staged narratives. The Kitchen Table Series follows a woman (played by the artist) through the break-up of a love relationship, raising issues of gender, intimacy and sexual equality. The African roots of African American culture fascinate Weems. The Sea Island Series explores the legends of the Gullah, people living on coastal islands off South Carolina and Georgia. The Africa Series traces those roots back to their place of origin. Weems makes the viewer imagine and feel, fulfilling an important goal of much art—to allow the viewer to experience the world through another’s eyes.

Black and White
African American