The artists of 30 Americans challenge, provoke, and, by the power of their incomparable images, force the viewer to consider them not as the unit the show's title suggests but as fiercely independent windows into the African American experience in the United States.
Through more than 200 works on view at the Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood, 31 artists offer expansive notions of what it means to be black, to be male and female -- and to be an American, a label they don't all wear with the same degree of comfort.
The exhibition of emerging and establish artists, a timely discourse on identity and history, has become more poignant with the inauguration of the first African American president. But 30 Americans extends beyond obvious issues to display a richness of visual language, technique and approach.
Some artists work with unique materials -- matches, shea butter, hair clippings swept from the floor of a Harlem barbershop, advertising images -- while others ply more traditional acrylics and oils.
Some appropriate hurtful images -- KKK hoods, the stereotype of black face -- and use them to explore the emotional pain of injustice. Others chronicle with faithful accuracy the bling culture, the hip-hop world, poverty and violence.
All display their condition as observers and participants through the extraordinary access of insiders.