Skip to Main Content

Featuring a “Who’s Who” of African American artists, 30 Americans opens at the Arlington Museum of Art May 29

"Provocative, beautiful, humorous, at times painful, and always deeply compelling, "30 Americans" is a dazzling presentation of some of the best art made in the last few decades—and a captivating guide to some of the most exciting talent working today. From the canonical to the cutting-edge, these artists explore identity against a backdrop of pervasive stereotyping—of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class—addressing intersectional politics in unique and powerful ways."

- The Barnes Foundation

The exhibition “30 Americans, a powerful collection of works by thirty emerging and established African American artists, opens May 29 at the Arlington Museum of Art, located in Downtown Arlington, TX. As the exhibition’s live-stream partner, made possible in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts, Downtown Arlington will co-produce with the AMA a live stream on Facebook Live all next week of the exhibition installation as well as a “30 Americans” Lecture Series.

“An exhibition bound by one nation and divided by 30 experiences…”     

Curated by the renowned Rubell Museum in Miami, FL, this amazing collection of art includes works by artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, and Kehinde Wiley. While some pieces probe the notion of racial and social difference in a candid manner, others evoke universal concepts and emotions using a sophisticated blend of visual beauty, wit and irony.


“This is an important exhibit that will undoubtedly spark conversation about race in America," said Tonya Veasey, CEO for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and committee chair for the “30 Americans” exhibition at the AMA. "It comes at a time when race and social justice issues are at the top of people's minds on a day-to-day basis. We are proud to present this profound exhibit.”


The exhibition opens just a couple months after the release of the City of Arlington’s Unity Council report, a plan for equity and equality presented to Mayor Williams and Arlington City Council this spring. The Unity Council, a diverse group of 25 community representatives, focused their research and recommendations on issues related to economic disparities, education and workforce development, health and wellness, housing, and policing and criminal justice. In March 2021, the National League of Cities selected the City of Arlington as a winner of its 2021 Cultural Diversity Awards for the work of the Council.

30 Americans Lecture Series     

Dr. Jason Shelton, who served as chair for the City’s Unity Council, will be kicking off a “30 Americans” lecture series hosted by the Arlington Museum of Art.

  • May 26: Dr. Jason Shelton, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for African American Studies, University of Texas at Arlington
  • June 16: Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite, Professor and holder of the Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History, Texas Christian University
  • June 30: Dr. Simone Drake, Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor of the Department of African American and African Studies, The Ohio State University
  • July 28: Dr. Carmen Kynard, Professor and Lillian Radford Chair of Rhetoric and Composition, Texas Christian University
  • August lecture: TBA

Live streaming for the series will also be provided by Downtown Arlington.

Maggie Campbell, President and CEO of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation, points to an historic connection between the arts and downtowns across the country as well as locally.


“Historically, downtowns are places where people from all walks of life come together,” said Campbell. “That’s certainly true in our city. Downtown Arlington is home to businesses, churches, city and county leadership, social services, a renowned University, and blossoming arts, entrepreneurial and creative communities. Downtown is everybody’s neighborhood, and the Arlington Museum of Art is one of our neighborhood’s influential thought leaders. Art informs our understanding about the issues we face, so what better place for discussions that can lead our community forward than the AMA?”

"30 Americans" Behind the Scenes    

The process of installing a major exhibition like “30 Americans” is filled with opportunities for insights and learning. In partnership with the Arlington Museum of Art, Downtown Arlington will be providing live-stream coverage of the installation between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. May 17-21, 2021 via Downtown Arlington Facebook Live. Gerardo Gibbs of Texas Art Solutions will be the principal project manager for the installation process.

History of "30 Americans," and a Blossoming Partnership   

“30 Americans” is drawn from the acclaimed holdings of the Rubell family. Don and Mera Rubell began acquiring contemporary art in the late 1960s, and through their friendships with living artists, particularly young artists, their collection is both intergenerational and stylistically complex. Minimalism, abstraction, conceptualism, performance, new media, installation art, identity politics, deconstruction, street aesthetics, and the return of figuration—every major development in contemporary art over the past four decades is represented.


“30 Americans is a celebration of the artists we collected over a 30-year period, and their work never stops addressing the common humanity in all of us,” said Mera Rubell. “Keith Haring: Against All Odds was the first of our exhibition collaborations with the Arlington Museum of Art, and now we are excited to continue with 30 Americans."


“This second collaboration with the Rubell Museum solidifies our relationship and allows us to bring important art to the North Texas region," said AMA President and CEO Dr. Chris Hightower. "The exhibit will push the limits of our existing space, in the middle of a dynamic and evolving Cultural District. Returning visitors will be surprised by the scale and scope of the exhibit as we introduce them to new galleries. Including a variety of styles and a broad array of visual art, “30 Americans” truly includes something for everyone.”

More Information    

“30 Americans”

Saturday, May 29 – Sunday, September 5

Arlington Museum of Art

201 West Main Street

About Downtown Arlington    

Designated by the State of Texas as the Arlington Cultural District, Downtown Arlington is where creativity, authenticity, and hometown pride thrive and drive what's next. Within its less than a two-mile radius, Downtown is home to a top tier public research university, prolific visual and performing artists and arts institutions, live entertainment, exciting NCAA and professional athletics, one-of-a-kind dining and retail, and a supportive business climate.  Stay in the know by subscribing to our e-newsletter and by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.