Carrie Mae Weems: Looking Forward, Looking Back

September 22, 2023 – July 7, 2024
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Carrie Mae Weems, Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me—A Story in 5 Parts, 2012, video installation and mixed media, color, sound; 18:29 minutes, dimensions variable, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the American Women’s History Initiative Acquisitions Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, 2023.9A-G, © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and G Streets, NW
Washington, DC

Legendary artist Carrie Mae Weems has been described as an icon, national treasure, and genius. She is a moral compass in the field, entwining art and activism to address racism, sexism, classism, colonialism, and xenophobia using photography, text, textile, video, film, installation, public art, and performance.

This focused exhibition, featuring all new acquisitions to SAAM, pairs two projects in which Weems invites others to step back in time. Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me–A Story in 5 Parts (2012) is a multimedia installation that transforms the gallery into a nineteenth-century illusionistic theater. This complex work brings to life episodes from the American Civil War to the present, accompanied by a soundtrack that evokes the constitutional promise of equality, along with projections of recurring racial and gender difference that make achieving it so elusive. It is accompanied by eight photographs from her series Constructing History (2008). Weems worked with college students to restage iconic photographs from World War II to the civil rights era and beyond. Taking on these poses, a new generation simultaneously enacts and witnesses past moments of strength, pain, and progress in the present.