Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Carrie Mae Weems and Myra Greene at Duke University, Early Spring 2014

Carrie Mae Weems and Myra Greene -- two Honorary Southern Photographers -- will be making appearances at Duke University in the late winter and early spring of this year.

This Thursday, March 6th, Carrie Mae Weems (see image above) will deliver this year's Rothschild Lecture at the Nasher Museum, 2001 Campus Drive, in Durham, NC.

The doors open for this talk at 6:30, with the talk to begin at 7:00 PM.

Weems has had a distinguished career making photographs that, in the words of the Nasher folks, confront "stereotypes and labels," and aspire to present “people of color" as representatives of "the human multitudes.”

In September 2013, Weems was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and the Guggenheim Museum in New York opened a 30-year retrospective of her work in January 2014.

Work by Weems in the collection of the Nasher Museum is included in their exhibition Sound Vision: Contemporary Art from the Collection which opens at the Museum on March 6th and will be up through August 3rd, 2014).

For more information on Weems' lecture, consult the Museum's website at or call them at 919-684-5135.

On April 9th, 2014, Myra Greene (see image above) will give an Artist's Talk at 6:00 pm at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies, at 1317 W. Pettigrew Street, in Durham.

Greene's talk will be in connection with an exhibition of work from her portfolio, My White Friends, which opens at the Center for Documentary Studies on March 10th and will be up at the Center through May 17th, 2014.

For more on Greene's talk, and on this exhibition,  consult the CDS website at, or call them at 919-660-3663.

Greene, the folks at CDS tell us, "has often used the human body--primarily black and brown ones, often her own--to explore issues of difference, beauty, and memory.

"In conversations with white friends, she realized that they had very different notions of racial identity than her own; in one pivotal exchange, a friend remarked that he really didn't think about whiteness at all.

"I had never considered this was possible," says Greene. "My White Friends was born out of this revelation.

"The project's "racial identity portraits" are co-constructions with Greene's friends that allow them to "respond to the idea of being imaged for their race," she says.

"Her goal is thoughtful dialogue about how we describe and think about racial identity: "I want conversations, not categories."

Even though Weems and Greene are not Southerners, they both deal in their work with issues of race and identity that are at the heart of Southern history and Southern identity. That is why I think of them as Honorary Southern Photographers.

Greene shows us in her work white people from a perspective that conveys respect, compassion, and a sense of common dignity, qualities of humanity that are frequently absent from images of people of color made by white people.

Weems shows in her work a faith in concepts of what it means to be human that are deeper than differences in color, a faith -- and therefore a hope -- to be celebrated in the face of all the the strife, conflict, suffering, and exploitation that characterize so much of Southern history.

We as Southern photographers have much to learn from Weems and Greene. My guess is, they will find welcoming and receptive audiences in their appearances at Duke.

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