If the art world could pinpoint the moment it was introduced to Carrie Mae Weems, it would likely be via her 1990s photo project, The Kitchen Table Series. This portfolio skillfully captured a multitude of Black women depicted in a black-and-white portrait and set at the kitchen table—the fixed setup only heightened each individual’s complex, intimate, and emotion-filled story. These images were displayed last night on chiffon-like fabric banners as guest made their way into the annual Artists Ball. Hosted at The Brooklyn Museum, the night honored Weems's four-decade career.
In a joint effort with the museum to make the celebration possible, artist Mickalene Thomas accepted the challenge as the sole art advisor curating the museum’s Beaux-Arts Court and exceeding all expectations of what could be done. Artists, art enthusiasts, friends, and fans all gathered to honor this collective effort envisioned by Thomas. It was a great match then that Dior had signed on to make the night possible, especially since Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri is equally dedicated to uplifting and collaborating with women. “It’s so important to me that I work with other women artists to promote their work around the world,” Chiuri shares.
The carefully curated event began with a cocktail hour that turned into a gospel choir surprise where an all-Black choir led guests to the main court singing Empire State of Mind. Amongst the crowd was musician and opening presenter, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, Charlie Heaton, Natalie Dyer, Kimberly Drew, Derrick Adams, and Miles Greenberg, to make up a few. Naturally, the room was filled with show-stopping Dior looks from both past and present, making the night feel even more personal.
A touching film would play, acknowledging Weems's life and legacy as an artist and a force to be reckoned with. Ahead of a performance by Celeste, Weems delivered a moving speech. “The history of omissions, oversights, persistence…that I find myself standing on this stage,” she said, drawing attention to the significance of being honored as a living Black woman artist, an honor many have yet to be or weren’t afforded. “I think that all work takes an enormous amount of perseverance and time and understanding,” Weems later told Vogue. “Perhaps the most important question that one can ask themselves is ‘what matters to you most’ and to pursue that with vengeance.”
Leave! Leave Now! (2022) by Weems is currently on view in the Museum’s exhibition and will be a part of the museum’s permanent collection.