Carrie Mae Weems, Kitchen Table Series

Identity, family, and the myth of home

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Woman Feeding Bird), The Kitchen Table Series, 1990, gelatin silver print (printed 2015), 27.94 x 27.94 cm @ Carrie Mae Weems (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art). Speakers: Lauren Haynes, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art) and Dr. Steven Zucker

Weems, Untitled

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Key points

  • Carrie Mae Weems has carefully staged the photographs in this series to suggest moments of everyday life, but also uses symbolism, lighting and props to create deeper levels of meaning.
  • Weems suggests that the familiar, unremarkable domestic kitchen is actually important as an epicenter of family life and human drama.
  • Unlike in so much art through history, the everyday lived experience of a woman, as opposed to a man, is central here.

Find out more about this work on Carrie Mae Weems’s website

See Weems’s entire series on the National Gallery of Art’s website

Listen to Weems discuss this series in a 2018 lecture at the National Gallery of Art

Watch Weems discuss this series in an art21 video

Read how Weems has influenced other artists’ work

Read how people from the fields of theater, photography, and art history to reflect on this body of Weems’s work

More to think about

Visit Carrie Mae Weems’ website to see all of the photographs in The Kitchen Table Series. Choose one and discuss the story the image suggests to you. Compare it to Untitled (Woman Feeding Bird) considering some of these questions: How does Weems use the same setting to create different moods and emotions? How does Weems use formal elements (light/dark contrasts, shapes, lines, composition) in her photograph to engage the viewer and enhance its meaning? What broader themes about women, family, and contemporary society can be found in both of these photographs?

Explore the diverse history of the United States through its art. Seeing America is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Alice L. Walton Foundation.