It all started when she got a camera from her boyfriend on her 20th birthday. “Suddenly this camera, this thing, allowed me to move around the world in a certain kind of way, with a certain kind of purpose,” Carrie Mae Weems later said.

Now, she one of the most well-known photographers in the industry, and as a recipient of the coveted MacArthur Fellowship “Genious Grant,” Weems can create even more wonderful art.

“Actually there’s a project I’ve been thinking about for the past year. It’s about women who are turning 60, but it’s also about those people who came of age in the 60s. I’ve spent years shooting lots of video and stills, and I want to do a feature-length film about a woman turning 60 who came of age in the 60s and use that as a metaphor to examine what it means to come of age in one of the most exciting and tumultuous periods of the 20th century.” said Weems. “It is beyond wonderful. I feel like I am dancing in the stratosphere. I am sitting here with my tiara on and all of my fake jewels, and a bottle of Champagne that’s half empty. Or should I say half full?”

Weems moved to New York in 1976 to study photography after her boyfriend gave her a camera for her 20th birthday.

She joins a group of black Genius winners including Writer Edward P. Jones, Legal Scholar Patricia Williams, and Environmental Activist Majora Carter. The $625,000 will be disbursed over the course of 5 years.

Congratulations to Carrie Mae Weems for winning this prestigious award!

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