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University Of Virginia Art Museum Presents An Exploration In DNA And Difference — ‘Carrie Mae Weems: The Jefferson Suite’

March 26, 2004 --

WHAT: Multimedia installation “Carrie Mae Weems: The Jefferson Suite”

WHEN: Through Sunday, May 23

WHERE: University of Virginia Art Museum, Main and Octagonal Galleries

ACCOMPANYING EVENT: A conversation with photographer Carrie Mae Weems, followed by a reception, Wednesday, April 21, at 6 p.m. Campbell Hall, Room 153

“I want to make things that are beautiful, seductive, formally challenging and culturally meaningful, says photographer Carrie Mae Weems, whose work will be displayed at the University of Virginia Art Museum beginning March 24. Weems’ multimedia installation, “The Jefferson Suites,” reflects her interest in unresolved issues of racial and gender identity by examining the ramifications of genetic research and the politics of DNA technologies. The name of this installation alludes to the DNA analysis of descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, which proved there was a genetic relationship between the families.

The multimedia installation features digitally produced images on muslin cloth and canvas and an artist-recorded audio piece for visitors. “The idea that we are all descended from the same family is a very old one,” Weems says. “Biotechnology allows us to think about the future in new and exciting ways. At the same time we have our real world that we have to understand.”

A contemporary artist, Weems has also created images of people and animals closely associated with genetics and scientific discovery, as well as representations of such historic figures as Jefferson and Hemings and President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. The results are thought-provoking pieces that ask us to think critically about how new technology is being used, its reliability, and its effect on our social, cultural and political landscape.

Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1953, Weems earned a bachelor’s degree from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, in 1981, and received her master’s degree in fine arts from the University of California, San Diego, in 1984. She has pursued graduate studies in Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1999 was presented with an honorary doctorate from the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland. Weems has taught extensively in colleges and universities throughout the country.

From 2000 to 2002, Weems’ “Hampton Project,” an installation featuring servitude and industry at the Hampton University, was shown at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Minneapolis Art Museum; International Center of Photography, New York; and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Mass.

Weems has been a visiting professor at Harvard University and Williams College and received numerous national awards, including The Alpert Award for Visual Arts (1996) and a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Grant (1994).

The Weems exhibition at the University of Virginia Art Museum is supported in part by the Arts Enhancement Fund, the Arts$ program, the University Council for the Arts and Dr. Steven E. Epstein and Cary Brown-Epstein.

Conversation with Weems and Reception

On Wednesday, April 21, at 6 p.m. in Campbell Hall, Room 153, U.Va. Professor of American Literature Deborah McDowell will conduct an interview with Weems that centers on the exhibition and the artist’s career. Following the interview, there will be a series of short dance performances choreographed by U.Va. students in response to “The Jefferson Suite” exhibit. The dances will attempt to comment on the content and the arrangement of the exhibition, and will be performed in the space, encouraging an engagement with the works.

Contact: Katherine Thompson Jackson, (434) 924-3629

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-Nov-2005 10:42:23 EST
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