Carrie Mae Weems


Kitchen Table Series
This body of work was inspired in part by the influential essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975) by the critic Laura Mulvey, which addressed the lack of nonobjectified representations of women in film and other cultural expressions.  Like Family Pictures and Stories, the series offers a valid portrait of an often overlooked subject, in this case, a modern black woman, “the other of the other.”  The images trace a period in the woman’s life as she experiences the blossoming, then loss, of love, the responsibilities of motherhood, and the desire to be an engaged and contributing member of her community.  The protagonist is Weems herself – a practice that will continue throughout the next decades of her career.  The role of words has become more prominent with fourteen stand-alone text panels that relay the at times rocky narrative.  Near the end, the woman stands alone, strong and self-reliant, looking directly at the viewer, her arms squarely planted on her kitchen table, where the entire story has unfolded under a light of interrogation.  Although Kitchen Table Series depicts a black subject and is loosely related to her own experiences, Weems strives for it to reflect the experiences of Everywoman and to resonate across racial and class boundaries.

All images ©Carrie Mae Weems.  Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated yearning, loss, cultural identity, and the visual consequences of power throughout her world-renowned career.  Determined as ever to enter the picture—both literally and metaphorically—Weems has sustained an on-going dialogue within contemporary discourse for more than twenty-five years.