This video is excerpted from the Season 5 episode Compassion premiering on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 10pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Compassion features three artists—William Kentridge, Doris Salcedo, and Carrie Mae Weems—whose works explore conscience and the possibility of understanding and reconciling past and present, while exposing injustice and expressing tolerance for others. Carrie Mae Weems was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1953; she lives and works in Syracuse, New York. With the pitch and timbre of an accomplished storyteller, Carrie Mae Weems uses colloquial forms—jokes, songs, rebukes—in photographic series that scrutinize subjectivity and expose pernicious stereotypes. Weems’s vibrant explorations of photography, video, and verse breathe new life into traditional narrative forms—social documentary, tableaux, self-portrait, and oral history. Eliciting epic contexts from individually framed moments, Weems debunks racist and sexist labels, examines the relationship between power and aesthetics, and uses personal biography to articulate broader truths. Whether adapting or appropriating archival images, restaging famous news photographs, or creating altogether new scenes, she traces an indirect history of the depiction of African Americans for more than a century.