2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Out of the Darkroom, Into the Living Room: Photographic Explorations of the American Family
Lauren A. Walton
Dr. Sara Orel and Dr. Julia DeLancey, Faculty Mentors

Photographers working with the subject of family since the 1950s have visually reexamined what constitutes a family in American society. Addressing sociocultural norms and familial stereotypes, artists such as Carrie Mae Weems identify race, social status, gender and sexuality as important factors in defining the American family. In her series Family Pictures and Stories, Weems responds to governmental and social critiques placed on family life as the cause for high poverty levels and social distress among the black community during the 1960s and 1970s. In Family Pictures and Stories, Weems aimed to direct the blame away from the so-called broken homes of African-American families and address the economic and social problems within the black community on a national level. The work of Weems and other photographers addressing similar issues provides evidence for the impact of historic and social events on the shifting definitions of family.

Keywords: family, photography, Carrie Mae Weems, twentieth-century art, Tina Barney, social norms

Topic(s):Art History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 1-3
Location: OP 2210
Time: 8:45

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