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Carrie Mae Weems’ Photographs of the Sea Islands Capture a Society Frozen In Time

Posted by on March 8, 2018 | Student Photography

The Sea Islands, a chain of tidal and barrier islands off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, are unique because they house the Gullah people, a group of African Americans who have retained, even in modern times, cultures and traditions passed down from the time of slavery.

The renowned photographer Carrie Mae Weems first became interested in the Gullah people when she was a graduate student in folklore at the University of California at Berkeley in the mid-1980s. In the early 1990s, Weems traveled to the Sea Islands, and took photographs of what she found there. The images show how much of traditional African culture the Gullah are able to preserve, largely because of their isolation from the mainland, and their majority black population.

For the first time, Weems’ series of photographs of the Sea Islands are being shown in the region where they were taken — at the Jepson Center in Savannah, Georgia. The exhibition includes 38 silver gelatin prints, 12 text panels and 12 ceramic plates. It is on view through May 6, 2018.

For more information, visit the museum’s website.

Below is a selection of images from the exhibition.

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) Cinder block in tree, 1992, gelatin silver print Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) Birthing and Babies, from the Sea Islands series, 1992 Screen print text panel 20 x 20 inches ©Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) Untitled (Praise House), from the Sea Islands series, 1992 Gelatin silver prints 20 x 20 inches each (2 panels) Edition 1/10 ©Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) Untitled (Praise House), from the Sea Islands series, 1992 Gelatin silver prints 20 x 20 inches each (2 panels) Edition 1/10 ©Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) Untitled (Ebo Landing), from the Sea Islands series, 1992 Two gelatin silver prints and one screen print text panel 20 x 20 inches each (3 panels) Exhibition print ©Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

 

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