Carrie Mae Weems
Edited by Sarah Elizabeth Lewis with Christine Garnier. MIT, $45 (224p) ISBN 978-0-262-04376-2; $24.95 trade paper ISBN 978-0-262-53859-6
African American studies and art history professor Lewis collects scholarly interviews and essays on the work of Carrie Mae Weems, with many reproductions of her photos and installations, in this outstanding “salute” to the myriad ways the boundary-pushing contemporary artist “irrevocably impacted the discipline of art history and the humanities.” Weems was the first African-American artist awarded a dedicated solo show at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2014, which combined photography, video, and text that probed cultural identity, class, and hegemony and exposed her drive “to recover and bring to the foreground subjugated knowledge.” Weems’s arguably most famous work, “Kitchen Table Series” (1990), “interweaves... a narrative of black female subjectivity, black beauty, and the gaze,” writes MacArthur fellow Deborah Willis. Art historian Huey Copeland, meanwhile, characterizes a video installation, “Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me—A Story in Five Parts” (2012), as an immersion that treats “American history as a racialized theater of deadly repetition.” Several in-depth conversations with Weems, including a dialogue with Thelma Golden, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, hosted by Lewis, bring in the artist’s perspective directly. Thoughtful, thorough, and timely, this scholarly yet accessible survey reveals Weems as a foundational, influential, and prescient figure. (May)
Correction: An earlier version of this review misattributed a quote from Huey Copeland to Deborah Willis.
Reviewed on: 03/05/2021