Untitled (Praise House). 1992-1993.
Edition of 10, 2 APs (# 1/10).
Gelatin Silver Print.
20¾” x 20¾” x1 ½”.
© Carrie Mae Weems.
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
Praise Houses, originally built on plantations during the antebellum period, functioned as centers for the Gullah community. These whitewashed clapboard structures with movable benches could hold thirty to forty people and were spaces where slaves socialized, worshiped and administered their own forms of litigation. Praise houses provided a space for a hybrid of West African magical and religious practices combined with Christian worship; services included songs, sermons, offerings, and ring shouts. In Weems’ photograph, the praise house is slightly
off-center with twine growing up along the left side of the house, suggesting the lasting legacy of the praise house and its resilience. Like the tall trees in the background of the image, the praise house continues to stand erect, bearing witness to years of history and change.
Emma Lewis ‘14
Gund Gallery Associate