Carrie Mae Weems is the 2017 recipient of the Edward Hopper Citation of Merit for Visual Artists, presented by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Council on the Arts in recognition of her significant artistic contributions to the state of New York. As part of this honor, Weems will be presenting her series of photographs entitled Beacon at the Edward Hopper House from November 10, 2017 through February 25, 2018. “To be receiving this award in recognition of the great artist Edward Hopper, whose painted world of dark nights and lonely people were so often a home to my imagination and anchor to my own practice is a tremendous honor,” said Weems.
For the Beacon series, Weems documented the changing landscape and culture of Beacon, NY, over the course of her three-year artist residency there beginning in 2002. Like Edward Hopper’s hometown of Nyack, NY, Beacon is a diverse community that has seen many changes over the years as it has evolved from a factory town to a center of arts and culture. Places of historic and cultural significance such as Dia:Beacon are featured in the photographs. Weems places herself as the subject, usually standing with her back to the camera, observing - and as she says, “bearing witness, confronting something, [serving] as a guide to the viewer standing with me, [we are] witnessing something together though our experience of it might not be the same.”
Considered one of the most influential contemporary American artists, Weems is celebrated for her photography, films, and videos that address social themes focusing on race, gender, and class. She has exhibited at major institutions throughout the world, and she is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the MacArthur “Genius” grant, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Prix de Roma, and many more. She lives and works in Syracuse, NY.
New York State Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D-Rockland County), who initiated and sponsored the bill to establish The Edward Hopper Citation of Merit for Visual Artists, said, “I am thrilled that the first Edward Hopper Citation of Merit for Visual Artists will be awarded to Carrie Mae Weems, whose powerful, groundbreaking work addressing issues of race, gender, class, equality and social justice is poignantly relevant in these times. New York State can be proud of its vast artistic talent and rich cultural heritage. Recognizing this contemporary visual artist for her outstanding contributions to the arts in New York State honors not only Carrie Mae Weems, but also the enormous influence of Edward Hopper, New York’s native son and one of the most admired American artists around the world.”