Works by Carrie Mae Weems examine race, police shootings

Carrie Mae Weems exhibit

“Carrie Mae Weems: The Usual Suspects,” now on view at the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, includes recent photographic and video works that ask, “How do you measure a life?”

In works created between 2014 and 2018, Weems addresses the constructed nature of racial identity, specifically the stereotypical representations that result in killings of black men, women and children without consequence. Through a formal language of blurred images, color blocks, stated facts and meditative narration, she questions the sustained history of violence and judicial inaction.

“The work that is in this room is related to gun violence and authority and structures of power,” Weems said at the opening of the exhibition at Louisiana State University. “I’m always trying, one way or another, to investigate and unpack the territory around power.” s

The exhibit will be on view through May 3.

Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Portland-born Weems has investigated family relationships, race and cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power. In a career of more than 30 years, Weems has developed a complex body of art employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation and video.

 “Carrie Mae Weems is one of the most powerful and eloquent voices in contemporary art, and we are thrilled to bring her work of to the University of Oregon and Eugene,” said museum Executive Director John Weber. “‘The Usual Suspects’ will allow our students and community to experience her work firsthand.”

At an event on March 11, Katie Delmez, curator of Weems’ 2013 traveling retrospective, will place “The Usual Suspects” in the context of the artist’s three decades of photography, text, video and installation works dealing with American history, social justice and race. Delmez is a curator at Nashville’s Frist Art Museum.

This spring, Weems will receive an honorary doctoral degree from the UO in recognition of her contributions to the visual arts and the national conversation about race and injustice.

In 2013 Weems received the MacArthur “genius” grant as well as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Weems has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships, including the prestigious Prix de Roma, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the Anonymous Was A Woman Award and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, among many other honors.

Weems has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major national and international museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, The Frist Center for Visual Art, Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville, Spain. She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

“Carrie Mae Weems: The Usual Suspects” was organized by the LSU Museum of Art. The project, which includes a fully illustrated catalog, is a collaboration between the LSU College of Art+Design, the LSU School of Art and the LSU Museum of Art. The catalog is available for purchase at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Museum Store.