Lot Essay Change Requires 2020 Vision.
Carrie Mae Weems’ striking banner speaks boldly to our sociopolitical moment, inspiring hope for positive change at a time of uncertainty. This handmade work was created in collaboration with female refugee fabricators residing in Texas as part of art collective House of Trees’ Word on the Street banner project. The proceeds of this sale will support the Center for Refugee Services and their partner arts collective House of Trees, both located in San Antonio, Texas.
Juxtaposing a strong black lettering over the emanating red geometric form at center, Weems alludes to Russian Constructivist graphic works and the idea that art should be produced as a practice for social purposes. The composition and poetic text are featured on both sides of the work. Weems’ approach to the composition and design is also inspired by the style and aesthetic of Gee’s Bend quilts, a remote Black quilting community in Alabama that maintains a generations-long tradition of creating textile masterpieces as a form of communication and visual identification within the community. The overlapping squares reference the “Housetop” pattern commonly found in the quilts, another synchronicity tying our homebound moment in history to the strength and resilience found in relying on community. In the face of the virus and its impact on communities of color, the quilters are currently creating colorfully rendered face masks for every citizen in Gee’s Bend as well as other nearby towns.
The empowering text originally referenced the potential for intersectional change in America’s 2020 Presidential Election year, however in the midst of COVID-19 and potential border closings, Weems’ handcrafted felt banner has predicted a sociocultural change in 2020 beyond borders, one we are all simultaneously experiencing on a global scale. Weems critically reminds us to stay focused on our vision for empathy and community-building and that ultimately, Change is possible.