THEMATIC: Appropriation and Borrowing


"From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried," 1995. Selections from set of 30 C-prints with sandblasted text on glass, dimensions variable. © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

What are the issues involved in borrowing, adapting, or recycling imagery produced by other people? Weems sometimes uses appropriated imagery in her work, and the process raises important questions about authorship and originality. In her Art in the Twenty-First Century segment, Weems describes how she used images of African Americans from the Harvard University Archives to create a new photographic series. View Weems's segment, and discuss how her use of borrowed images recontextualizes historical, legal, and moral issues of ownership and the role of the artist.

Compare the way Carrie Mae Weems uses appropriated images to the methods of other artists, including: Paul McCarthy, John Baldessari, Fred Wilson, Kara Walker, and Michael Ray Charles.

Before Viewing
Define and discuss the terms borrowing, appropriation, and plagiarism within the context of art. From what sources do artists appropriate or borrow materials, to create their own art? Why do they do this?


SEGMENT: Carrie Mae Weems in "Compassion"

While Viewing
Weems discusses several disputes in relation to borrowing and owning historic photographic images. How have these disputes and attitudes toward appropriation shaped her work?

After Viewing
In what ways has Weems reconsidered portraiture? What visual elements and devices does she use to reframe the people and events that she represents in her work?


"From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried," 1995. Selection from set of 30 C-prints with sandblasted text on glass, dimensions variable. © Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Create
Animate a series of found or borrowed images, to create a critique or comment on a current social issue.