Carrie Mae Weems: "The Kitchen Table Series"
A few years back, we attended a lecture by the incredible Carrie Mae Weems at the de Young museum in San Francisco. In many ways, it felt like the best living room talk you would ever attend with a friend; she was warm, infectious, intellectual and powerful, but never strayed from making everyone feel included in her life and career. The body of work that struck us was the Kitchen Table Series from 1990, a series that documented one woman's life through a series of photos from the same angle at the same table.
As Artbook notes, who also has a book of the same subject: an "early and important body of work by the American artist Carrie Mae Weems. The 20 photographs and 14 text panels that make up Kitchen Table Series tell a story of one woman’s life, as conducted in the intimate setting of her kitchen. The kitchen, one of the primary spaces of domesticity and the traditional domain of women, frames her story, revealing to us her relationships—with lovers, children, friends—and her own sense of self, in her varying projections of strength, vulnerability, aloofness, tenderness and solitude. As Weems describes it, this work of art depicts 'the battle around the family ... monogamy ... and between the sexes.' Weems herself is the protagonist of the series, though the woman she depicts is an archetype. Kitchen Table Series seeks to reposition and reimagine the possibility of women and the possibility of people of color, and has to do with, in the artist’s words, 'unrequited love'."