The Art of Appropriation – Carrie Mae Weems at the Guggenheim
by Macy Rajacich
As soon as Weems started to speak, I could already gather that her talk was going to be one to really tune into. Maintaining a humorous, fun, theatrical, and poetic tone, she dove into the concept of appropriation: what it means in both a positive and negative manner. She hardly talked about her own work in the first half of the talk, but rather discussed her relationship with music. She played through overhead speakers Gentle On My Mind, a song originally performed by Glen Campbell in 1967, but a rendition by Frank Sinatra. She proceeded with the same song performed by Aretha Franklin. She used this example to show different artists that help influence other artists’ self desires by “echoing the past to find new ways into the future”. Artists and creatives cannot live in a vacuum, as they are always taking from something or someone. But she made a great point as to how an artist should go about taking inspiration: “What does it mean to speak truth to power while being true to [your]self”?
Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated family relationships, cultural identity, sexism, class, political systems, and the consequences of power. Determined as ever to enter the picture—both literally and metaphorically—Weems has sustained an on-going dialogue within contemporary discourse for over thirty years. During this time, Carrie Mae Weems has developed a complex body of art employing photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation, and video. (Carrie Mae Weems Biography http://carriemaeweems.net/bio.html)
The artist-curated show Artistic License is showcasing at The Guggenheim now until January 12th 2020. Hunter College students, staff, and faculty receive free admission plus one guest.