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From the Kitchen Table Series

Carrie Mae Weems, American, born 1953

Photograph taken in United States, North and Central America

1990 (negative); 2011 (print)

Gelatin silver print

Image and sheet (each): 27 1/4 x 27 1/4 inches (69.2 x 69.2 cm)

© Carrie Mae Weems, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Marion Boulton Stroud, 2011

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This picture is part of the Kitchen Table project, in which photographer Carrie Mae Weems acted out made-up stories about the life of a successful woman. Each scene in her story takes place at the head of a kitchen table, under the glare of a bright light. Weems’s characters enter and exit a room filled with props, similar to a play or movie set. Looking at these pictures, it feels like we have walked into the middle of a movie. The scene is emotional, but we don’t know why; time has passed, but we don’t know how much; conversations have happened, but we did not hear them. With minimal props and a handful of actors, Weems created a group of powerful images about friendships, relationships, and motherhood.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    Carrie Mae Weems’s Kitchen Table Series, which chronicles a fictionalized career woman navigating her roles as a lover and a mother, is one of several projects by the artist that mine photographic traditions while exploring the sexual and racial politics of contemporary life. The use of a fixed, stagelike setting gives the series the feel of a film or television show, and the economical use of props and the subjects’ facial expressions further contribute to the sense of theatricality. This triptych is suffused with erotic tension and emotional distance, but it provides few other clues, leaving us to contemplate whether we are observing stereotyped behaviors or powerful individual emotions. Peter Barberie, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 402.

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