Kitchen Table Series is the first publication dedicated solely to this early and important body of work by the American artist Carrie Mae Weems. The 20 photographs and 14 text panels that make up Kitchen Table Series tell a story of one woman’s life, as conducted in the intimate setting of her kitchen. The kitchen, one of the primary spaces of domesticity and the traditional domain of women, frames her story, revealing to us her relationships—with lovers, children, friends—and her own sense of self, in her varying projections of strength, vulnerability, aloofness, tenderness and solitude. As Weems describes it, this work of art depicts “the battle around the family . . . monogamy . . . and between the sexes.” Weems herself is the protagonist of the series, though the woman she depicts is an archetype. Kitchen Table Series seeks to reposition and reimagine the possibility of women and the possibility of people of color, and has to do with, in the artist’s words, “unrequited love.”
Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series
Texts by Sarah Elizabeth Lewis
About the Authors
Carrie Mae Weems is considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists. In a career spanning over 30 years, she has investigated family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems and the consequences of power. Weems’ complex body of art employs photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video. Weems has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships, including the prestigious MacArthur "Genius" grant and the Prix de Roma. She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Sarah Elizabeth Lewis is an associate professor of history and art and architecture and African American studies at Harvard University and the founder of the Vision and Justice Project. Her research focuses on the intersection of visual representation, racial justice, and democracy in the United States from the nineteenth century through the present. Her books and edited volumes include The Rise, translated into seven languages, Carrie Mae Weems, which won the 2021 Photography Network Book Prize, and “Vision & Justice” by Aperture magazine, which received the 2017 Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography.