Tag Archives: Louis Agassiz

Homework #2: Carrie Mae Weems on Race, Appropriation, and Photography

Carrie Mae Weems, "An Anthropological Debate" from "From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried," 1995-1996

Carrie Mae Weems, “An Anthropological Debate” from “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried,” 1995-1996

In class we have studied J.T. Zealy’s daguerreotypes of slaves that were commissioned by Harvard scientist Louis Agassiz to support his belief in the theory of polygenesis. For this homework, please explore the works of contemporary artist Carrie Mae Weems, who uses the tool of appropriation to critique issues of race in her art. Appropriation is a popular practice for modern artists, who borrow and alter pre-existing images in order to transform and give images new significances. Weems appropriates many of Zealy’s photographs in her series “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.” Listen to a brief statement about the series and explore the photographs in the series on her website. Reflect on your experience of reading the texts and looking at the images. Is it possible to do both at the same time? How would the work change without the text? What do you think of Weems’ photographic project?

Listen to Carrie Mae Weems on “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried”

Explore the “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried” series here

Please submit your post by class on Tuesday October 6th.