Artist Talk: Carrie Mae Weems


In the past, Art was supposed to be beautiful. Many people of all ages loved beautiful artworks and sold at high prices. Perhaps face-to-face with the artwork depicting the uncomfortable reality that wants to avoid was difficult for people of that time. However, it is not right to avoid the problem just because it is hard or uncomfortable to accept. Carrie Mae Weems is considered as one of the most socially and artistically influential artists, who deals with the race, gender, sexism, class, cultural identity, and political system that many people doesn’t want to talk about it through various forms such as text, photograph, film, image, and performance.  The theme she deals with is an uncomfortable keyword that the public wants to avoid but it's something that happens around us in reality.


She sends us questions about what others are doing and what is your word for your work and what are you doing? She tries to push forward an idea from the past that others are doing and thinking of what can she do? She tries to find her language for her work and attempts to delicately explore the ideas of gender, race, class, and social system. She keeps thinking about ways to come back and lead a viewer to pay attention to what is happening in the real uncomfortable issue. Racism and sexism is not just occurring in other societies or worlds. It is not the issue from far away. It is still appeared in reality surrounded us. Are we ready to accept it and solve this severe problem of society? Don’t we just keep afraid and delay this issue and waiting for a massive change in society through the politics or system? Carrie Mae Weems talks and artworks remind and lead the audience to think about this contents seriously and uncomfortably.


She continuously asks herself and us about life, which is the most simple, everyone must be respected without any discrimination, but indeed it is still not. For the speech, her gesture, voice, tone, and flow of the content are pretty slow and comfortable but simultaneously strong, assertive and appealing to the audience. Her last comment and showing her work with the performance that keeps asking about ‘how do we measure a life – by what means and by what measure? Do you measure it inch by inch, step by step, crawl by crawl?’ was touching audience’s heart, and enough to understand her thinking of anguish of racism, gender issue, and violence. The truth can be got when you have to face both comfort and discomfort. Her continuous fighting with those serious and harsh issues cause people, who don’t care about it, to change their minds and keep thinking about how do we deal with the life and issue of discrimination.


Artist Talk: Cullen Washington, “Abstraction: Truth in the realm of fake news”

Cullen Washington’s work is generally present unity and bringing the nation into one’s work dismantling and deconstructing. In his work, he used the rule of utilizing grid or square to explore his idea about humanity. According to him, his grid is humanity, mutualism, international, intercultural and the revolution of truth sacred. His works are presenting the unity, freedom and all-inclusive ideas. His concept and works give durable emotional power to the viewer because of his philosophical seeking and thinking, which expressed through these works. He created the painting through black painting, plastic, paper, tape, and canvas. He used the tape as painting elements that are also one of the exciting and dominant ideas of his work to express his concept. His handling of black is the disruption of continuity by using one particular dominant color that leads to the function of humanity. Also, his approach to his work shows his belief that there is no boundary between drawing, painting, and sculpture.

After the talk, the question evokes about then what the artistic language itself works and how it related to the artist’s concept. Art is an indispensable tool in shaping and maintaining worldview. It is reasonable to understand and create meaningful art one needs to develop his or her creative concepts and artistic language. However, it is always difficult to connect the idea and expression of work itself. There are sometimes artworks far removed from the concept of the artist.

On the contrary, Washington’s example shows how his initial philosophical thinking and belief reacted to his artworks. The reason may be his firm belief, and precise concept about his work and his continuous challenging on his various works lead to making his work reasonable and understandable.

Also, his thinking of unity and all-inclusive ideas derive from the grid’s meaning of humanity, international, and intercultural was pretty impressive for the audience to understand the fundamentality of art because this concept is highly related to the idea of the fundamentality of the existence of art. Art always exists through one thing with another as like all existence. No such thing lives alone in this world. Washington’s idea of complete united work may point out his desire to be the unified and unbiased existence of art. Even though the continuous development and change of art inevitable issues, art should be connected with the world, culture, and people like Washington’s works.