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)
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Carrie Mae Weems
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The speakers comment that the caged bird is a powerful metaphor that carries many meanings. Based on your understanding of this photograph by Carrie Mae Weems, the caged bird shown here could be interpreted to mean all of the following EXCEPT
the heroic portrayal of powerful leaders.
the domestic role of women.
the representation of women in art.
anyone trapped by their circumstances.
Which broader theme from The Kitchen Table Series is reflected in this photograph?
It celebrates domestic space as a place for women’s experience.
It calls attention to the isolation of women in art and society.
It suggests the monotony of everyday life through the use of black and white.
It tells a story about the figure through the accompanying written text.
What approach does Weems employ to engage the viewer in this photograph?
The use of narrative and storytelling
The use of portrait photography
The representation of an idealized female body
The “decisive moment” of a photographic snapshot
Which formal device does NOT work to call attention to the woman as central to the photograph?
The spotlight effect created by the hanging lamp
The symmetrical composition of the image
The geometric shapes that surround the figure
The contrast of light and dark areas in the image
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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.
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?
Cite this page as: Lauren Haynes, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art) and Dr. Steven Zucker, "Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Woman Feeding Bird), from The Kitchen Table Series," in Smarthistory, August 14, 2018, accessed January 21, 2019, https://smarthistory.org/weems-kitchen-table-series/.