N.C. Museum of Art Presents Work by Leading Contemporary African American Artists

The North Carolina Museum of Art presents 30 Americans, an exhibition of work by many significant contemporary African American artists, in its Meymandi Exhibition Gallery in East Building, March 19 through September 4, 2011. Organized by the internationally known Rubell Family Collection, the exhibition features 75 works of art from the last three decades and includes painting, drawing, photography, video, sculpture, and mixed-media installations.
30 Americans brings together both established and emerging artists whose work explores issues of race, gender, identity, history, and popular culture. By featuring seminal figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Robert Colescott alongside rising stars like Hank Willis Thomas and Kehinde Wiley, 30 Americans also highlights artistic legacy and influence, and illustrates how an earlier generation of African American artists has influenced a new generation.
“The works in the exhibition invite, provoke, and encourage the viewer to reexamine assumptions and viewpoints,” said Linda Dougherty, curator of contemporary art. “They also offer visitors the opportunity to see the world from alternative perspectives and to see that beneath highly individual and personal stories, experiences, and identities, there is much we all hold in common, regardless of race, gender, and history.”
Covering more than 15,000 square feet of gallery space, 30 Americans is a sweeping display across a variety of media by some of the nation’s best contemporary artists. The works of art on view are provocative and dramatic, and many have never been shown in this region.
Highlights of the exhibition include several of Nick Cave’s sculptural Soundsuits constructed from found materials, Kehinde Wiley’s portraits of contemporary African American men that reference Old Master paintings, graffiti-inspired paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and conceptual artist Glenn Ligon’s text paintings and installations that borrow words from historical and contemporary figures.
30 Americans also features work by Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Barkley Hendricks, Gary Simmons, Mark Bradford, Rashid Johnson, Mickalene Thomas, iona rozeal brown, and Kara Walker, among others. Twelve of the artists in 30 Americans will also be represented in Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions, an exhibition opening at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University on March 10.
The exhibition represents the NCMA’s ongoing commitment to present work by internationally recognized contemporary artists as well as artists from diverse backgrounds. In concert with the Nasher’s fifth anniversary exhibition, which reflects the art and culture of the African diaspora, visitors can appreciate the richness and range of contemporary works in the two venues.
30 Americans first opened in 2008 at the Rubell Family Foundation in Miami, Florida, as part of Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the largest international contemporary art exhibitions in the world. The exhibition will be on view at the NCMA through September 4, 2011, and then will travel to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The Rubell Family Collection was established in 1964 by husband and wife Don and Mera Rubell. They have amassed a contemporary art collection that rivals those in many leading art museums. Jason and Jennifer Rubell also assist their parents in building the collection with works that range in date from the 1960s to the present.
The collection is housed and exhibited in a converted former Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse in Miami. Open to the public since 1996, the collection features rotating exhibitions of work by prominent artists. For more information about the Rubell Family Collection, visit http://rfc.museum. 30 Americans was organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami.