Episode Fifteen features Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953 Portland, OR; lives and works in Syracuse, NY). She is widely renowned as one of the most influential contemporary American artists living today. Over the course of nearly four decades, Weems has developed a complex body of work employing text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video, but she is most celebrated as a photographer. Activism is central to Weems’ practice, which investigates race, family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power. Over the last 30 years of her prolific career, Weems has been consistently ahead of her time and an ongoing presence in contemporary culture.
Her work is organized into cohesive bodies that function like chapters in a perpetually unfolding narrative, demonstrating her gift as a storyteller. The Kitchen Table Series (1990), for instance, is one of Weems’ most seminal works, and widely considered one of the most important bodies of contemporary photography. The series, for which Weems herself posed as the main subject, is set at a woman’s kitchen
table—a domestic stage—revealing intimate moments of her life as the story unfolds. The protagonist, though in many ways seemingly commonplace, is a multifaceted woman encompassing a variety of roles
such as lover, parent, friend, and breadwinner. Through her work, Weems tackles a number of complex contemporary issues, demanding reconsideration of predominant narratives throughout our history.
This is an intriguing conversation. Enjoy.