By Any Means: Carrie Mae Weems & the 1980s

Elizabeth Searcy
Art History
UC Los Angeles

Carrie Mae Weems’s pioneering work from 1978-1990 helped propel the emerging multicultural movement in the United States. Despite her lengthy career and numerous accolades, Weems’s role in contemporary American art has yet to be unpacked. This dissertation explores her work from Family Pictures and Stories to the Kitchen Table Series while analyzing its connection to feminist, African American, and mainstream art of the era. By examining the work within a context of black feminist writings, African American storytelling tactics, and contemporary art and exhibition practice, it investigates the cultural, theoretical, and art historical foundations for Weems’s art. This study illuminates how images and texts shape our self, daily life, and history and how Weems’s work dismantles and recasts them.