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Portland's Carrie May Weems Named MacArthur 'Genius' Fellow

Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems

Oregon Art Beat

An artist born and raised in Portland has been named a MacArthur Foundation fellow for this year.

Carrie Mae Weems studied photography in New York and California, but her roots are in Portland.

Over the past three decades, her work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. In February, the Portland Art Museum mounted a retrospective of her photos and videos.

Weems spoke with OPB’s Think Out Loud at that time.

Weems said she knew early on that she wanted to be an artist of some kind. Then a boyfriend gave her a camera. He also gave her a book, the Black Photographers Annual, that set her on her path.

“For the first time I saw black people portrayed in a way that was beyond the stereotype. They were portrayed in all of their humanness. So having that book, having that sense of what was possible, was something that immediately excited me,” she said.

Weems and the other MacArthur fellows will receive $625,000 over the next five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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Photographer Carrie Mae Weems