Carrie Mae Weems Takes Intimate Photographs of A$AP Rocky and His Sons

The artist is known for her Kitchen Table Series as well as Family Pictures and Stories, a rebuke to negative stereotypes about the African American family.

Article by Hannah Tattersall

“Portraits of Fatherhood” is a new photography series by Carrie Mae Weems with A$AP Rocky, for Bottega Veneta. Photography courtesy of the artist and Bottega Veneta.

To announce American rapper A$AP Rocky as Bottega Veneta’s latest brand ambassador, a new photography series by acclaimed photographer Carrie Mae Weems has been released.

“Portraits of Fatherhood”, with A$AP Rocky, commissioned by creative director Matthieu Blazy is a series of six images, released on Father’s Day in the US, that shows A$AP Rocky in a home setting with his two young sons, RZA and Riot Rose.

The tender photographs show the rapper “embodying and embracing fatherhood, parenthood, companionship, and family, while still working on all aspects of my career”, he said.

Weems’ iconic Kitchen Table Series, as well as her first solo exhibition, Family Pictures and Stories (1981-1982), was a rebuke to negative stereotypes and messaging around the African American family. With these photographs of A$AP Rocky, she says she wanted to show an honest representation of the Black family.

An untitled 1990 photo taken by Carrie Mae Weems. Photograph courtesy Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times.
Carrie Mae Weems in 2021. Photography courtesy Flo Ngala/The New York Times.

Weems answered some extra questions for T Australia about the collaboration:

T Australia: You’re perhaps best known for your Kitchen Table Series which, even though it was fictionalised, is not too dissimilar to these photographs which show great intimacy. How did you approach this work and what did you set out to achieve?

Weems: “We had lovely conversations together that really inspired my entire approach to making the piece. It was absolutely important to have these conversations, guiding the process. There were certain things Rocky wanted to do and see. Part of my responsibility was to listen, to articulate my vision through his, in that collaborative spirit. I think together we really did make something wonderful.

“There are still very few images of Black men with their children, certainly in the commercial and fashion space. I think what Rocky is attempting to do, to use his platform and stage, to use this relationship with Bottega Veneta, is very important. If there is something to be said, he is figuring out dynamic ways to say it and to be a part of that statement. It is quite remarkable and unique.”

T Australia: Art and luxury collaborations are becoming de rigeur – have you worked on commissions for brands before? How did the collaboration with Bottega Veneta come about?

Weems: “I learned that Matthieu [Blazy] had been studying me in school, which was surprising and lovely. We had this wonderful talk about directness, authenticity, and lack of flash, and that for Rocky himself, there was something about the Kitchen Table Series that drew him, and something about his ideas about becoming a father and a husband that mattered. In light of losing my own father, and in light of the importance of what he was trying to do as a person, a father, a parent, I knew I wanted to involve myself.”

One of the photographs from Carrie Mae Weems's Portraits of Fatherhood series. Photography courtesy of the artist and Bottega Veneta.
One of the photographs from Carrie Mae Weems's Portraits of Fatherhood series. Photography courtesy of the artist and Bottega Veneta.