Artist and CalArts alumna Carrie Mae Weems (Art BFA 81) concludes her year-long residency at New York’s Park Avenue Armory with a day-long convening of artists, writers, poets, musicians and social theorists on Sunday, December 17.
Titled “The Shape of Things,” the day will grapple with the history of violence in America – a theme Weems has deeply explored in her most recent work–and invite participants to join Weems in a review of the nation’s current tumultuous political and social climate.
Through poetry, spoken word, music, public readings, panels, intimate conversations, video screenings and performance, the event seeks to arrive at – in the words of philosopher Walter Benjamin – “a critique of violence that is adequate to our time.”
“The work that I’ve been doing for a really long time in one way or another intersects with questions of power,” Weems told ARTnews. “I decided I wanted to explore that subject of the histories of violence more, and I really wanted to have a sense of what other artists, public thinkers, and other creative folk were thinking as we negotiate this history, in general, and this present moment, in particular.”
Carrie Mae Weems | Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Participants include choreographer and dancer Kyle Abraham, curator and writer Kimberly Drew, juvenile justice reformer Adam Foss, vocalist Nina Hendryx, jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran, visual artist Shirin Neshat, poet Claudia Rankine and puppeteer Basil Twist, among others.
Considered one of the most influential American artists working today, Weems has been called “a superb image maker and a moral force, focused and irrepressible” by The New York Times.
Steeped in African American history, her 30+ year body of work – primarily in photography and video, but also in mediums as diverse as fabric, verse and performance – examines the centuries-old struggle for racial equality, human rights and social inclusion in America.