Carrie Mae Weems

Exhibition view of the piece titled “The Apple of Adam’s Eye” by Carrie Mae Weems.
Carrie Mae Weems, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, The Apple of Adam’s Eye, 1993. Pigment and embroidery on sateen, Australian lacewood frame. 75 x 80 inches. Edition of 5. Bequest of Marion Boulton Stroud. Photo Credit: Will Brown.

Carrie Mae Weems retells the biblical story of Adam and Eve in The Apple of Adam’s Eye. Using a folding screen as her form, Weems worked with FWM to silkscreen print a central image of a shrouded woman flanked by side panels depicting a decorative, serpentine vine. Gold text is elaborately embroidered and reads: “She’d always been the apple/Of Adam’s Eye” (front panels) and “Temptation my ass, desire has its place, and besides, they were both doomed from the start” (on reverse).

The central figure shields herself, yet also reveals part of her body. There is sexual tension in this work, which Weems has acknowledged: “ . . . there is . . . great desire, seduction, sexual charge and a point to be made—you know, stuff that makes the world go round” (Projects: Carrie Mae Weems, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1995). Weems continued on to say that this work is about “how both men and women are accomplices in their own downfall, in their own oppression, in their own victimization.” The sculpture—like much of Weems’ work—undulates between the larger social implications between the sexes and a very intimate, interpersonal interaction.

Weems often exhibits The Apple of Adam’s Eye with the wallpaper Looking High and Low. The pattern comes from the end sheets of George Bernard Shaw’s 1933 book, Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, which introduces race to the retelling of the creation myth.

The Apple of Adam’s Eye became a central element in Carrie Mae Weems’ exhibition at FWM in 1993, and in subsequent exhibitions including Ritual & Revolution, her 1998 exhibition for the Dakar biennial exhibition, which has traveled extensively.

Artist Bio

American, born 1953, lives in Syracuse, New York.  

After completing a BA at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA (1981), Carrie Mae Weems continued to graduate school, earning an MFA from the University of California, San Diego, before studying folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Known for her integration of photography and text, Weems has focused her work on themes of relationships and family through the critical lens of social, cultural, and historical commentary. She is one of the leading artists to emerge from a period in American art focusing on identity politics. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including the Block Museum of Art (2017), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2014), the Studio Museum in Harlem (2014), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2007). Weems is a recipient of the ICP Spotlights Award from the International Center of Photography, The WEB Dubois Award from Harvard University, as well as Honorary Degrees from California College of the Arts, Colgate University, Bowdoin College, the School of Visual Arts, and Syracuse University. In 1998, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, working with independent curator Mary Jane Jacob, organized an exhibition of Weems’ work for DAK’ART, an international biennial of Contemporary art in Dakar, Senegal.