Carrie Mae Weems
CARRIE MAE WEEMS: SEA ISLANDS SERIES, 1991-1992
26 January 06 May 2018
Considered one of America’s most influential contemporary artists, Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) became interested in the unique Gullah culture found on the Sea Islands off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina while studying folklore in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. Because of the islands’ physical isolation from the mainland and their majority black population, Sea Islands region residents were able to retain many aspects of African culture throughout the period of slavery and into the present day. Gullah society, in fact, has been called “the most African of American cultures.”
Working within the conventions of photography, folklore, and storytelling, Weems emotionally mines the African diaspora in the American South through this work, titled Sea Islands Series and made between 1991 and 1992. By presenting these particular African American cultural details, especially those with direct links to Africa, Weems demonstrates a developed and persistent heritage, one that stands in contrast to what often has been erased in mainstream historical accounts.
This presentation at Telfair Museums is the first time Weems’ Sea Islands Series has been on view in the region in which the photographs were taken. This presentation includes 38 gelatin silver photographs, 12 text panels, and 12 ceramic plates. This exhibition also will provide an opportunity for a renewed look at how both Weems’ series and Gullah culture and communities have evolved and remained alive, now 25 years later.