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Exhibition presents powerful African-American art and community conversations in 30 Americans
Kehinde Wiley, Sleep, 2008, oil on canvas, 132 x 300 in. (335.3 x 762 cm). Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection. © Kehinde Wiley.


CINCINNATI, OH.- The Cincinnati Art Museum presents 30 Americans, an exhibition featuring artworks by many of the most important African-American artists of the last three decades, from March 19 – August 28, 2016.

This conversation-starting and sometimes provocative exhibition focuses on issues of race, gender, and historical identity in contemporary culture, while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations. The approximately 60 artworks are drawn primarily from the acclaimed Rubell Family Collection, Miami, as well as from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection.

Diverse in medium, subject matter, and perspective, the exhibition highlights a wide range of cultural backgrounds and life experiences as expressed by contemporary African-American artists, including Nick Cave, Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mickalene Thomas, and Glenn Ligon. Paintings, photography, sculptures, videos, and installations from these and other influential artists will fill the largest temporary-exhibition galleries and spread throughout the art museum.

In describing the origins and development of the exhibition, Don and Mera Rubell said, “As the show evolved, we decided to call it 30 Americans. ‘Americans,’ rather than ‘African Americans’ or ‘Black Americans,’ because nationality is a statement of fact, while racial identity is a question each artist answers in his or her own way, or not at all.”

30 Americans has traveled to locations including the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va.; the Milwaukee Art Museum; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Curators reconceive the exhibition at each venue, selecting different artworks by the same group of artists. This presentation of the exhibition is co-curated by Rehema C. Barber, Director and Chief Curator, Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University, and Brian Sholis, Curator of Photography, Cincinnati Art Museum. At the Cincinnati Art Museum 30 Americans is on view free of charge.

“The exhibition’s layout is open-ended, but certain themes will arise organically,” said Sholis. “These include economic issues, in particular the commodification of African-American culture; the characters people play and how they are caricatured; and how individual rights are shaped by politics.”






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