Carrie Mae Weems: the Hampton Project
Vivian Patterson, Carrie Mae Weems, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Aperture, Inc, Williams College. Museum of Art
Aperture, 2000 - Photography - 95 pages
"Carrie Mae Weems: The Hampton Project brings together photographs from Frances B. Johnston's stunning Hampton Album of 1900 with a related series of images by renowned contemporary artist Carrie Mae Weems. This remarkable book examines the work of two women, distanced by time and race, yet joined by their shared interest in a unique educational experience.
For twenty years, Carrie Mae Weems has made powerful artwork--often with a fiercely ironic sensibility--from complex social observations. In "The Hampton Project, she knits her concerns about individual identity, class, assimilation, education, and the legacy of slavery into a series of photographic banners that force viewers to reassess their own moral and ethical boundaries, as well as the political and socioeconomic realities of twentieth-century America.
Weems's" Hampton Project is shaped in part as a response to vintage photographs of the historically black Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Virginia, and period images of,African Americans and Native Americans, as well as to Frances Benjamin Johnston's celebrated" Hampton Album of 1900. Her gaze is broad enough to encompass initial contacts between Anglos, African Americans, and Native Americans, the institution of slavery, the era of Jim Crow, the civil rights conflicts of the twentieth century, and the land claim disputes of the present. Weems's ultimate focus, however, is her response to the philosophy of Hamptons's founder, and to historic and contemporary intersections of race, education, and the democratic ideal.
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