30 Americans coming to Tacoma Art Museum

West Coast debut of exhibition featuring African American artists set for September

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 through January 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 upon the similarities and differences of their own experiences and identities.

Hank Willis Thomas' Who Can Say No to a Gorgeous Brunette? will be on display at Tacoma Art Museum as part of  the 30 Americans traveling art exhibition. Credit: Rubell Family Collection

Hank Willis Thomas’ Who Can Say No to a Gorgeous Brunette? will be on display at Tacoma Art Museum as part of the 30 Americans traveling art exhibition.
Credit: Rubell Family Collection

“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,” said TAM’s Executive Director Stephanie Stebich. “We’ve been working for four years to bring this exhibition to our community. The stories these works tell are more relevant than ever as we work toward understanding and social change. Art plays a pivotal role in building empathy and resolving conflict.”

TAM’s Chief Curator Rock Hushka stated, “The meaning of a work of art evolves depending on what is happening in our culture, where it is presented, and its juxtaposition among other works of art. Every visitor makes his or her own meaning. For some, this exhibition will be comforting and exciting; for others it may be provocative or uncomfortable. We’ll 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 alongside younger generations of artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalene Thomas, and Kalup Linzy. The artists weave evocative themes of race and Black identity in America, the struggle for civil rights, popular culture, and media imagery through many of the works. Many works respond to concerns raised in Tacoma and many communities across the country.

30 Americans has traveled to ten museums in the US, including at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where President Obama and his family viewed it; the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans; Detroit Institute of Arts; and Cincinnati Art Museum. It has set all-time attendance records at many of these venues.

– Tacoma Art Museum