Carrie Mae Weems

MIT. Jun. 2021. 224p. ed. by Sarah Elizabeth Lewis. ISBN 9780262043762. $45; pap. ISBN 9780262538596. $24.95. PHOTOG
Renowned photographer and performer Carrie Mae Weems received her first camera as an 18-year-old Black dancer–turned–union organizer, and has since used photography to explore everyday life and ideas like the construction of beauty and the recognition of forgotten moments. This volume of essays, interviews, and art historical analysis gathers a portion of the existing scholarship about Weems and her body of work. Weems herself says that the discourse about her work has too often focused on themes of race while overlooking ideas about the function of beauty and cultural construction. There’s a short bio for each of the monograph’s contributors that clarifies their relation to the work and their authority to speak on the subject. This book reproduces many images from Weems’s multimedia series that combine photographs, text, and video), like the Kitchen Table Series (1990) and The Louisiana Project (2003). Her predominately black-and-white photography translates well to the page.
VERDICT This is a well-researched, intriguing monograph about Weems that will be helpful to anyone researching her art and interesting to any reader who wants to think about the function and construction of beauty within society.
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