What It Means To Be Black in America: A Provocative New Art Show

Collected images.
Sept. 27 2011 11:57 AM

What It Means To Be Black in America

A new art exhibition in Washington, D.C., explores the place where racial identity and national identity intersect.

To Be Black in America. Click image to launch.

On Oct. 1, Washington, D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery of Art will unveil a new exhibition called 30 Americans. But don't let the name fool you—this is neither a traditional celebration of Americana nor a sampling of stuffy portraits. It's a compilation of the most provocative artwork of the last decade by black artists. The Rubell family—the collectors who provided the artwork—left "African-American" out of the exhibition name for a reason: "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," the family said. The images in this slide show offer a sneak peak at some of the collection's 76 drawings, sculptures, photographs, paintings, and videos, all of which explore the theme of black identity in America.

Elizabeth Weingarten is the associate editor at New America and the associate director of its Global Gender Parity Initiative.