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Exhibition highlights work of contemporary African American artists, on view March 19-Sept. 4

Robert Colescott, Pygmalion, 1987, acrylic on canvas, 90 x 114 in., Rubell Family Collection, Miami, © 2010 Robert Colescott

The North Carolina Museum of Art opens 30 Americans, an exhibition of work by many significant contemporary African American artists, in its Meymandi Exhibition Gallery in East Building on March 19, 2011.

Organized by the Rubell Family Collection, an internationally renowned collection of contemporary art, the exhibition features more than 70 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-Michael Basquiat and David Hammons alongside emerging artists like Nick Cave and Kehinde Wiley, 30 Americans also highlights artistic legacy and influence, and illustrates how a previous generation of African American artists has influenced artists working today.

The works of art on view are provocative and dramatic. Highlights of the exhibition include several of Nick Cave’s sculptural Soundsuits constructed from found materials, Kara Walker’s large-scale cut-paper silhouettes, Jean-Michael Basquiat’s graffiti-inspired paintings, and stunning life-size portraits by Barkley Hendricks.

30 Americans also presents work by Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Ma Weems, Glenn Ligon, Mark Bradford, Iona Rozeal Brown, Wangechi Mutu, and others.

“The works in this exhibition offer opportunities 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,” said Linda Dougherty, curator of contemporary art.

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2008, fabric, fiberglass, and metal, H. 102 x W. 36 x D. 28 in., Rubell Family Collection, Miami, © 2010 Nick Cave

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2008, fabric, fiberglass, and metal, H. 102 x W. 36 x D. 28 in., Rubell Family Collection, Miami, © 2010 Nick Cave

The exhibition is part of the NCMA’s ongoing commitment to present work by internationally recognized contemporary artists and to highlight the variety and historical depth of art and artists from diverse backgrounds.

30 Americans first opened at the Rubell Family Foundation in Miami, Florida, in 2008. The exhibition will be on view at the NCMA through September 4, 2011. The exhibition then travels to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The Rubell Family Collection is an internationally renowned collection of contemporary art established in 1964 by husband and wife, Don and Mera Rubell. Jason and Jennifer Rubell assist their parents in collecting work ranging in date from the 1960s to present. The collection is housed and exhibited in a converted former Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse in Miami, Florida. Open to the public since 1996, the collection features rotating exhibitions of work by prominent artists.

In Raleigh support is provided by the North Carolina Museum of Art Friends of African and African American Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina department of Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibition.

Visitor Information

March 19–September 4, 2011

30 Americans will be located in East Building’s Meymandi Exhibition Gallery.

30 Americans will be open during regular Museum hours:

  • Tuesday–Thursday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Friday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
  • Saturday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Tickets are required to visit 30 Americans. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for students, seniors, military personnel, and groups of 10 or more; $5 for children ages 7 to 12; and free for children 6 and under and Museum members on the first visit.

Tickets go on sale February 21, 2010. Tickets will be available in person at the Box Office, by calling (919) 715-5923, or online at

Guided Tours
Docent-led group tours for 10 or more are available with advance reservation by contacting the Museum’s concierge at (919) 664-6785. Tours are free with admission.

A 231-page, fully illustrated catalogue of 30 Americans produced by the Rubell Family Collection is available from the Museum Store for $60.

For more information about the exhibition, visit

Related Events and Programs
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of educational programs, including lectures, workshops, and special events. Details will be announced in early 2011.


The North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the Southeast. The Museum’s collection provides educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through site-specific works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts.

The Museum recently opened its new gallery building, home to the permanent collection. The North Carolina Museum of Art, Lawrence J. Wheeler, director, is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. It is the art museum of the State of North Carolina, Beverly Eaves Perdue, governor, and an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, Linda A. Carlisle, secretary. Admission to the Museum’s permanent collection and Museum Park is free. Museum hours are Tuesday–Thursday and Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Closed Monday. For information call (919) 839-NCMA, or visit

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