This month’s issue of artsee magazine features a fantastic piece by Chris Vitiello about the Nasher Museum’s spring show “Building the Contemporary Collection: Five Years of Acquisitions.” In the article, Vitiello notes that the museum fills a cultural need in the Durham community while also functioning as a “top-class, standalone venue for contemporary art.” “Building the Contemporary Collection,” which reveals the Nasher Museum’s scholarly strength and expertise in the African dispora, continues the legacy of ambitious exhibitions and programming that began with the museum’s opening in March 2005. Comically Vitiello recounts that
“Wendy Hower Livingston, the Nasher’s manager of marketing and communications, needed more than one hand’s worth of fingers to run down the list of Nasher exhibitions with an emphasis on artists from the African diaspora: ‘The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl’ (2010-2011), ‘Color Balance: Paintings by Felrath Hines and Alma Thomas’ (2010), ‘Africa and Picasso’ (2009), ‘Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of Cool’ (2008), ‘Street Level: Mark Bradford, William Cordova and Robin Rhode’ (2007), and ‘Conjuring Bearden’ and ‘Something All Our Own, The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art’ (2006).”
He also notes that the show offers a thought-provoking complement to the NCMA’s “30 Americans” exhibition organized by the Rubell Family Collection.
The Nasher Museum’s show provides the chance to see both “familiar and newer work by established artists, as well as multiple pieces by lesser-known artists.” Vitiello offers considerable praise to the works featured in “Building the Contemporary Collection,” such as those by Barkley Hendricks, Mickalene Thomas, Jeff Sonhouse and Odili Donald Odita and points out that the exhibition effectively shows how “portraiture is being used today to elaborate and complicate notions of identity.”
The article concludes on a high note, suggesting that “Building the Contemporary Collection” offers a “wonderful opportunity to catch up on cutting-edge African disaporic art… as well as to celebrate a half-decade of excellence at the Nasher.” I don’t think any of us could have said it better!