Untitled (Boone Hall Plantation) from the Sea Island Series, 1992
Artist DetailsName: Carrie Mae Weems
Artwork DetailsDate of Work: 1992
Subject: Abstract, Landscape
Period: 20th Century
Medium: gelatin silver print on paper
Dimensions: 30 x 30 inches(print); 20 x 20 inches (Text Panel)
Credit: Museum purchase with funds from the Charleston Fine Art Dealers Association
Born in Portland, Oregon, Carrie Mae Weems received her education in both art and folklore. While receiving her MFA from the University of San Diego, Weems became tied to a group of political artists who provided context to their photography by pairing it with texts, a technique that Weems continues to employ.
Weems produces art that addresses political and social issues encircling African American culture. In her untitled photograph of Boone Hall plantation from the Sea Island Series, Weems explores the African derivation of the Gullah language spoken on the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Depicting the remains of two slave cabins, two cannonballs and signs of a contemporary archaeological site, Weems captures a story of enslavement, conflict and rediscovery. The textual component of the work (seen below) incorporates words from tape recordings of Weems’s own relatives and recounts fragments of Gullah history and folklore.
“Lots of slaves brought over from Africa could fly. There folks can fly even now. They tell me them people could do all kinda curious things. They could even make farm tools work for em just by talkin to em. And some of em could disappear at will. Wist! And they’d be gone!! Ole man Waldburg own slaves, and worked them hard and one day they was hoein in the field and the driver come over and two of em was up under the shade tree and the hoe was working by itself. The driver say “What’s this?” and they say,
Kum Buba Yali
Jum Bumba Tambe,
Kum Kunka Yali, Kum Kuma Tambe
Quick like. Then they rize off the ground adn flew back to Africa. Nobody ever see em no more. Mr grandmother see that with her own eyes. Anytime they wanted they would fly back to Africa, then come back again to the plantation. They’d come back cause they have chillun who didn’t have the power to fly and had to stay on the plantation.”