“It’s extraordinary. I am honored, I am floored, I am beyond gaga and I am even a little cocky and giddy,” Carrie Mae Weems said after winning the 2013 MacArthur Fellowship—the prestigious, no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 awarded to creatives over five years. Also known as the “genius grant”, the fellowship recognizes talented individuals who’ve shown extraordinary originality and dedication and provides the financial security for them to continue, full stride.
Weems, whose work “debunks racist and sexist labels, examines the relationship between power and aesthetics, and uses personal biography to articulate broader truths” (via Art21), said she plans to use the fellowship funds to work on a feature-length “fictional autobiography” about women turning 60 and the generation that came of age during the 1960s. Weems herself is 60, and joins female photographers Uta Barth and An-My Lê who won MacArthur Fellowships in 2012. Other female artists who have won MacArthurs include Cindy Sherman, Ann Hamilton, Kara Walker, and Julie Mehretu.
This work is part of Weems’s career-establishing “Kitchen Table Series”, a body of daily self-portraits Weems took in the late ’80s while seated at her kitchen table. Photographs from the series also feature in her traveling retrospective “Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video”, which will land at the Guggenheim this winter.
Portrait courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation