West Coast debut of 30 Americans

30-americans

The critically acclaimed, nationally traveling exhibition 30 Americans makes its West Coast debut at Tacoma Art Museum this fall. Featuring 45 works drawn from the Rubell Family Collection in Miami—one of the largest private contemporary art collections in the world—30 Americans will be on view from Sept. 24, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017.

The exhibition showcases paintings, photographs, installations, and sculptures by prominent African American artists who have emerged since the 1970s as trailblazers in the contemporary art scene. The works explore identity and the African American experience in the United States. The exhibition invites viewers to consider multiple perspectives and to reflect on the similarities and differences of their own experiences and identities.

“The impact of this inspiring exhibition comes from the powerful works of art produced by major artists who have significantly advanced contemporary art practices in our country for three generations,” says Stephanie Stebich, executive director of TAM. “The stories these works tell are more relevant than ever as we work toward understanding and social change.”

Characterizing TAM as a “safe space for difficult conversations through art,” Stebich adds that the museum will hold open forums and discussions during the run of the exhibition, offering ample opportunity, she says, for community conversations about the role of art, the history of racism, and traumatic current events.

Rock Hushka, TAM’s chief curator, expects that for some viewers, this exhibition will be comforting and exciting; for others it may be provocative or uncomfortable. He said the museum will have gallery prompts that invite visitors to examine their own identities and how it affects their reactions.

What will you see in 30 Americans? Works by seminal figures such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Carrie Mae Weems will be on view alongside pieces by younger generations of artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas and Kalup Linzy. Woven through many of the works are evocative themes of race and black identity in America, the struggle for civil rights, popular culture and media imagery.

30-americans2The museum’s opening celebration for 30 Americans will be Saturday, Sept. 24, 7-10 p.m. Collectors Don and Mera Rubell will speak about developing the exhibition and the accompanying catalog as well as their collection in general in a Collector Conversation at TAM on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2 p.m. Tickets and information about these events and related programs are available at tacomaartmuseum.org.

Glenn Ligon, America, 2008. Neon sign and paint, ed. of 1 plus AP, 24 × 168 inches. Courtesy of the Rubell Family Collection.