Photographer and Video Artist Carrie Mae Weems, 2013 MacArthur Fellow

Photographer and Video Artist Carrie Mae Weems was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2013. The Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached grant for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more. Learn more at

Full Transcript

0:00 and Carrie Mae Weems and i’m a visual
0:12 artist
0:15 I make photographs and films i right
0:20 I thought I was going to be many things
0:23 but photography really stuck and I think
0:26 that it’s you know too
0:27 it’s a way of sort of you know imagining
0:30 and constructing the world that interest
0:32 me very much through this particular
0:34 lens my disadvantage is it for the most
0:39 part when I’m viewed by the world I’m
0:41 viewed only in relationship to my black
0:44 subject even though i’m a very complex
0:47 woman working on many many different
0:49 levels and so the first question
0:52 invariably out of anybody’s mouth is
0:55 what is this thing about rates right you
0:59 know you produce this work and it’s
1:00 about race
1:02 well it’s partly about place but
1:06 considerably more and that’s the thing
1:09 that really interests me that
1:10 considerably more my projects the depth
1:15 of my project really has to do with how
1:18 do you begin to see this work in its
1:22 multiplicity the kitchen table series
1:26 you know that gender is a starting point
1:28 raises a starting point but ultimately
1:30 the work is really about the complicated
1:33 pneus of monogamy and the relationship
1:37 of women with their friends and other
1:40 women and the relationship of women with
1:42 their children
1:43 I think that the reason that the work
1:45 has been able to speak so broadly in
1:48 some ways has to do with the fact that
1:50 it speaks to our deeper humanity but
1:53 that we use the african-american subject
1:56 to get to that right you know in other
1:58 words sort of getting getting rid of
2:00 that stereotype so that this person’s
2:03 humanity actually shines through
2:05 that’s the project that’s what I’m doing
2:08 there’s a lot of space around that oval
2:11 is I get this phone call that they had
2:15 awarded me mccarter not me
2:22 can’t be me by mistake and I put my head
2:29 down and I cry I put my head down and I
2:33 cried now continue to work very very
2:37 very very hard and maybe the difference
2:40 will be is that I have just a little bit
2:42 more resources in order to do that work
2:45 that I won’t have to start to fight so
2:48 hard for every single thing