Carrie Mae Weems and Hank Willis Thomas are two contemporary artists who are defying contemporary social and political categories and taking art photo into an engage era. The essays by Annie E Coombes provide a critical analysis of how the contemporary scene is moving beyond categories of post modern, and post race. Both are efforts to rescue contemporary artists who are dealing with forms of oppression from being described as old fashion or out of date.
Carrie Mae Weems is an African American photographer. She was born in 1953 in Portland, Oregon and she currently resides in Brooklyn NY. Her work deals with the issues such as identity, racism, gender, etc. Weems moved to San Francisco after high school where she got her BA and then she finished her MFA in San Diego, CA.
Her first body of work was “Family Pictures and Stories” which she finished in 1983. Almost all of her work is focused on racism, Gender and finding her own identity as an African American artist. She has won numerous awards for her work in the field of photography. “Friends of Photography named her photographer of the year. She was awarded “the distinguished photographer’s award” in 2005, for making contribution in the realm of photography. Her work has been exhibited across the United States, and internationally.
The Coombes article on Weems contrasts the artist work against the political popularity of Obama (among Whites at least). Coombes is arguing that Weems is still relevant and that a critique of racism is still vital in American art. Weems draws on historical views of race but looks at it from a new and distinct way. She finds hidden racist themes in anthropological photographic styles that become very obvious when seen through Weems’ lens. Weems’s work is not the presentation of racism or oppression of an earlier generation, but her post-racism vision is not the imaginary world of a non-racist societies. She is post-civil rights movement as a righteous cause. The post world of Weems is a work of reflecting on our visual culture discovering layers of oppression more subtle. That digging is an act of liberation but in a post-civil rights era. Racism lives on at deeper levels, as Weems shows us, even if voting and political culture has found a place for blacks.
Hank Willis Thomas is an African American photographer born in Plainfield, NJ in 1976. He is well known for his interest in racism, advertisement, popular culture, etc. Thomas got his BFA in Photography from New York University and his MFA in photography from “California College of Arts”. He is the Son of Deborah Willis, who’s an art photographer, an art historian for African American Photography and professor at NYU, New York.
His most famous work that discusses the issues about race and class is “Branded”. Thomas archetypal “Niki swoosh” is both a statement on racism and commercialism. “By employing the ubiquitous language of advertising,...