Carrie Mae Weems--a photographer, video artist, and social activist who explores the complex legacy of African American identity, class, and culture in the United States—will come to the UCSC campus for a visiting artist talk on Monday, October 21.

The recipient of a prestigious 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship just three weeks ago, Weems will discuss her work and ideas, drawing on nearly four decades of artistic activity, beginning at 7 p.m. in UCSC’s Media Theater.

Admission is free and open to the public.

Weems has exhibited nationally and internationally throughout her career. A retrospective tracing the trajectory of her life’s work will be on display at Stanford’s Cantor Art Center beginning Wednesday, before heading to the Guggenheim in 2014.

“We are bringing Carrie Mae Weems to UCSC because she is a world class artist and thinker,” said UCSC art professor Lewis Watts. “She is an old friend of mine, and she was a classmate of John Weber (founding director of UCSC's Institute of the Arts and Sciences) and a student of Newton and Helen Harrison at UC San Diego.”

“Her lectures are like one-person plays, where she uses dramatic effect along with the visual presentation of her ideas,” Watts added. “She has an international reputation highlighted by her receiving the MacArthur ‘genius’ fellowship this past month--she was the only visual artist selected.”

Weber noted that Weems’s social and historical vision, and the unusual range of photographic strategies she has created and employed, are some of the things that have stood out in her work from the beginning.

“I find her work to be both historically revealing and emotionally gripping, and elegantly conceived as art,” said Weber.

“She has used her camera to create distinctive images of her own--the way traditional photographers have always done--and she has also delved into the archives of universities, libraries, and research centers, using archival photos as the basis for powerful new works based on historical images of African Americans.”

Weems received a B.F.A. (1981) from the California Institute of the Arts and her M.F.A. (1984) from UC San Diego. She also studied at UC Berkeley from 1984 to 1987.

Her work has been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum, the Art institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, the Tate Liverpool and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

 “We hope that a large contingent of our undergraduates will attend, because they have limited exposure to artists of this magnitude,” Watts noted.

“We expect a good turnout of members of the faculty, as well as people in the community who are interested in articulations of provocative ideas by a strong black intellect and artist,” he added.

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Carrie Mae Weems will present a talk about her career on Monday, October 21, at 7 p.m., in UCSC’s Media Theater, Room M110. Admission is free and open to the public. This event is presented by the UCSC Art Department and co-sponsored by the Arts Division; Digital Arts and New Media; Film and Digital Media; Feminist Studies; The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Visual & Media Cultures Colloquia; and the Institute of the Arts & Sciences. For more information, call (831) 502-7252 or email ias@ucsc.edu.