Syracuse University’s Carrie Mae Weems Is the Winner of the 2023 Hasselblad Award

Carrie Mae Weems, Syracuse University’s first-ever artist in residence, has been named the 2023 Hasselblad Award laureate by the Hasselblad Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden. The award is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize” of photography. Weems will be honored at a ceremony in Sweden in October.

The Hasselblad Award is an international photography prize that is granted annually to a photographer recognized for major achievements. It was presented for the first time in 1980 to Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson. The award includes a monetary prize of about $188,000 and a gold medal.

“Carrie Mae Weems’s work has for decades anticipated salient issues of our time — the struggle for racial equality and human rights — with unflinching visual and ethical force. Her artistic practice is inherently activist, poignant and lyrical. She creates evocative, potent tableaux and confronts painful histories, institutional power, and social discriminations,” the Hasselblad Foundation said in a statement. “At the core of Weems’s wide-ranging oeuvre is the still photograph, but she also deftly employs video, text, immersive multimedia installations, and performance. She often inserts herself in her work, thus embodying and commemorating the Black female subject.”

“Receiving the Hasselblad Award has left me speechless,” Weems said. “I don’t have the words to express the depth of my gratitude. To have my family name inscribed on this historic roster, alongside some of the most outstanding photographers of our time, is a cherished honor. To be recognized comes with the continued responsibility to deliver on the promise made to myself and to the field, which is to shine a light into the darker corners of our time and thereby, with a sense of grace and humility, illuminate a path forward.”

Weems has been at Syracuse University since 2020. She had previously taught courses at the university going back to 1988. Her work has been exhibited at some of the premier art museums in the United States. A former MacArthur Fellow, she was the first African American woman to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Weems is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts and holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of California, San Diego.

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