Monday June 17, 2013
Tags for: Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video Opens June 30
  • Press Release

Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video Opens June 30

exterior of the CMA building

First large-scale museum retrospective dedicated to exploring acclaimed contemporary artist’s work

CLEVELAND (June 14, 2013) – The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, an exhibition showcasing nearly 125 examples of the artist’s intellectually challenging and aesthetically compelling work. Visitors will have the opportunity to see photographs, installations, audio pieces and video selected from six museums, several private collections and the artist’s own holdings. The exhibition offers a survey of Weems’s thirty-year exploration studying the universal human journey, in which she often focuses on relationships pertaining to race, gender and class. The Cleveland Museum of Art’s presentation of Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video will be on view June 30 to September 29, 2013 in the museum’s Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Gallery and Mark Schwartz and Bettina Katz Photography Gallery. The exhibition then travels to the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, Stanford University and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City. Previously, the exhibition was on view at the organizing museum, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville and the Portland Art Museum, Oregon.

Comprehensive in scope, Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video traces the evolution of Weems’s career from her early documentary and autobiographical photographic series to the more conceptual and philosophically complex works that have placed her in the forefront of contemporary art. “Experiencing Weems’s art in person can be a powerful transformative experience,” said Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography. “Her work is strong yet subtle, lyrical and beautiful even when analyzing and critiquing sordid moments from the past. Using history as a cautionary tale, Weems’s skillfully woven narratives awaken in the viewer the understanding and empathy that are keys to creating a better future.”

All the major themes that have engaged Weems are represented in the exhibition. Selections from the late 1970s through 1990 explore the construction of identity, especially as it relates to race, sex and class, as seen in Family Pictures and Stories and the renowned Kitchen Table Series. From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995-96) and May Days Long Forgotten (2002) respond to historical situations that have impacted African American identity, as well as that of other disempowered peoples. Photographs that focus on the role of place in Weems’s examination of the underlying causes and effects of racism, slavery and imperialism include images from the Sea Islands Series, Slave Coast, Africa and Dreaming in Cuba. A notion of universality is present throughout: while African-Americans are typically her primary subjects, Weems wants “people of color to stand for the human multitudes” and for her art to resonate with audiences of all races.

Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video is organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee. This exhibition is supported in part by grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Related Programs

Pictures and Stories
Friday, July 19, 7:00, Smith Exhibition Gallery and Photography Gallery.
Drawn from history and folklore, from places and people, powerful narratives weave throughout the work of Carrie Mae Weems. Join the Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers as they tell their own stories in response within the galleries of the exhibition Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video.

Carrie Mae Weems
Sunday, August 25, 4:00, Gartner Auditorium.
Internationally noted artist Carrie Mae Weems, one of two artists to speak at the museum on the occasion of its east wing opening in 2009, returns to the Cleveland Museum of Art with a new talk in which she reflects back on her career and presents recent bodies of work. Over the past thirty years, Weems has explored issues of race, gender, and class in thought-provoking photographic and video works, with an overarching commitment to better understanding the present by closely examining history and identity. The museum is pleased to welcome her back to Cleveland in conjunction with the retrospective Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, on view June 30–September 29. $15/$10 CMA members.

Community Photo Project
In conjunction with Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, the museum invites you to participate in a community photo project that will become a digital display in the museum’s Education Lobby. Take a photograph that you feel completes this sentence: “My community is . . . ” Submit your photo, your completed sentence (“My community is . . . ”), first and last name, age and medium (cell phone camera, Instagram, digital camera, etc.) via e-mail to Rolling submissions for electronic display will be accepted through Sunday, September 29. All photographs must be submitted electronically. No nudity, profanity, offensive or insulting material, watermarks, or photos created for solicitation purposes will be accepted.

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261