Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue

Jan 29, 2022 — Apr 30, 2022

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue brings together a focused selection of work from a period of over forty years by two of today’s most important and influential photo-based artists.

Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems, both born in 1953, came of age during a period of dramatic change in the American social landscape. Since meeting at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1976, the two artists have been intellectual colleagues and companions. Over the following five decades, Bey and Weems have explored and addressed similar themes: race, class, representation, and systems of power, creating work that is grounded in specific African American events and realities while simultaneously speaking to a multitude of human conditions. This exhibition, for the first time, brings their work together to shed light on their unique trajectories and modes of presentation, and their shared consciousness and principles.

From the outset of their careers, both Bey and Weems have operated from a deep social commitment to participate in, describe, and define culture. In seeking to express themselves fully, both artists have expanded possibilities within photography and video to address their chosen subjects. Each engaged in the material and conceptual developments in the art world that were gaining prominence beginning in the 1970s, just as their careers were developing. As Bey and Weems have continued to push their own work forward, their art and approach have inspired notable younger artists such as LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Mickalene Thomas, and Hank Willis Thomas.

Both Bey and Weems create work in focused series that gives them opportunity to fully explore their complex and layered ideas. Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue is arranged in five sections that present the two artists’ work in thematic pairings, emphasizing both their mutual concerns and distinct artistic approaches.

Exhibition Tour

Following its presentation in Grand Rapids, Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue will travel to other U.S. venues through 2023.

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Exhibition Catalogue

Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue published with DelMonico Books and distributed by D.A.P. (Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.) which documents Bey and Weems’ photographs and includes scholarly essays by GRAM Chief Curator Ron Platt and National Museum of African American History & Culture Deputy Director, Kinshasa Holman Conwill, along with written reflections by both artists. Purchase the catalogue here.

Presenting Sponsor

Exhibition Support

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:

  • Wege Foundation
  • Agnes Gund
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Eenhoorn, LLC.
  • Wolverine Worldwide Foundation
  • Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC
  • James and Mary Nelson
  • Kayem Dunn
  • Bill Padnos
  • The Louis and Helen Padnos Foundation
  • Shelley Padnos and Carol Sarosik
  • Progressive AE
  • Terry D. West and Richard L. Hagan
  • Ken Betz and Pat Brewer
  • brightly
  • Robert W. Daverman, AIA / Grand Rapids Community Foundation
  • Erin Gravelyn
  • Jeff Gurney and Xuesi Li Gurney
  • Haworth, Inc.
  • Dirk and June Hoffius
  • J. Visser Design
  • Martin and Enid Packard
  • Ruth Posthumus and Marlin Feyen
  • Bill Scarbrough and Kate Kesteloot Scarbrough
  • Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge

Additional funding provided by the Friends of Bey & Weems Group and the GRAM Exhibition Society.

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