ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Being Seen: People and Places in American Art, 1960s to Today
Mary & George W. Cheney, Jr. Gallery
Featuring bold and visionary works from the 1960s to the 2010s, this installation explores depictions of people and places in America through a range of mediums, including sculpture, print, collage, photography, and painting.
Coming of age in the mid-1900s during the Civil Rights Movement, groundbreaking artists including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith create work that brings awareness to struggles in American life while also celebrating the rich diversity of their cultural heritage. Using collage, assemblage, and abstraction to fragment their compositions, these artists imbue their works–and the people and places depicted–with a sense of tension and transformation.
More recent artists Martine Gutierrez, Rashaad Newsome, and Iké Udé confront ongoing conversations about race, gender, and identity in the U.S. through cross-cultural lenses. Their glossy color-saturated works resemble fashion photography or advertisements. While rooted in contemporary visual culture, their images also pay homage to the legacy of one’s ancestors and cultural origins.
In the adjacent galleries, works by leading artists Carrie Mae Weems, Radcliffe Bailey, Hernan Bas, and others, address notions of visibility and invisibility of American people and history. Their striking images bring experiences of historically marginalized or oppressed peoples into focus and acknowledge legacies of individual and collective struggle and resilience in America. These themes are powerfully embodied in Faith Ringgold’s iconic print series Declaration of Freedom and Independence, 2009, on view in full at the NBMAA for the first time ever.
Together, these important works challenge and inspire ideas about what it means to be an American today.