Carrie Mae First Black Woman Photographer to Receive the Hasselblad Award

Photographer Carrie Mae Weems is the first Black woman to receive the Hasselblad Award, basically the Nobel Prize for photography.

Prior winners include Ansel Adams (1981), Cindy Sherman (1994), and Hiroshi Sugimoto (2001).

“In the midst of the radical shifts taking place across cultural institutions, and as the first African American woman to receive the Hasselblad Award, some might say, ‘it’s about time!’ Nevertheless, receiving the Hasselblad Award has left me speechless,” Weems said in a statement. “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. For this honor, I thank the Hasselblad Foundation and the jury.”

The Hasselblad Foundation’s award committee recognizes a selected winner from a short list of candidates, who is recognized for major achievements within the art and community of photography. Based on Weens’ commitment to decades of work capturing the struggle for equality and the painful history that Black Americans have experience, the committee decided to honor her.

“We are inspired by Carrie Mae Weems’s impactful contributions to the art of photography,” said Bronius Rudnickas, marketing manager at Hasselblad, in a written statement. “Today, we are honored to award Ms. Weems with her very own Hasselblad medium format cameras and lenses, and we are honored to be part of her journey moving forward. With this announcement, we are also incredibly proud to begin our extended partnership with the Hasselblad Foundation, and we look forward to the road ahead together.”

A ceremony is slated to be held on October 13 in Gothenburg, Sweden. There, she will have her work displayed in an exhibition, and also receive SEK 2 million (roughly $187,000), a gold medal, and a diploma.