Sinister and sensual, frightening yet full of faith, a feast of the eyes but often hard to digest, 30 Americans, the new exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art that opens to the public October 1 is a breathtaking collection of work. Highlighting the exceptional work of some of the most dynamic and thought provoking African American visual artists in the last three decades 30 Americans provides visitors new and different lenses to view Black identity through their art. It is timely that this exhibit would open in Washington coinciding with the release of Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now by the cultural critic Touré. In his latest work he examines what it means to be African American in the 21st Century and challenges the traditional assumptions of the creation and performance of blackness today.
One of the great fortunes of 30 Americans for Washingtonians who wish to use their examination of art as a catalyst for introspection is the inclusion of work by Lorna Simpson. “Why does working with a Black figure necessarily mean that the work loses universal quality?” she asks. Her contributions to 30 Americans when contrasted to those of Zhang Chun Hong in the Asian American Portraits of Encounter exhibit on view at the National Portrait Gallery through October 14 are captivating. Their images and choice of subjects illustrate the commonalities of humanity and offer something savory to ponder – across racial, ethnic identifiers. Universal.
See a complete list of related programs and events for 30 Americans here. The exhibit runs through February 2012.