Noah Davis, “Black Wall Street,” 2008. The Studio Museum in Harlem. Photo: Adam Reich.

What is America?

It’s a question that, considering the political climate, has never been more difficult to answer. But that’s not stopping Amanda Hunt and Eric Crosby, who co-curated 20/20: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Carnegie Museum of Art. That’s the local exhibit Vogue magazine is calling “the Most Important Art Show in America.”

The collection, which is a team effort by the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Carnegie, is meant to “present something nearly impossible: the idea of America, through art,” writes John Ortved in Vogue.

How does it go about that? Vogue explains:

The exhibition—which features works from the likes of Kerry J. Marshall, Jenny Holzer, Kara Walker, and Lorna Simpson—begins with “A More Perfect Union,” an examination of national identity and symbols. The jumping-off point is a 70-year-old painting by Horace Pippin—a self-taught WWI vet who captured scenes of postwar American life—which gives way to Jasper Johns’s flag painting, and a Louise Nevelson sculpture. Next, with “Working Thought,” the exhibition examines the history of forced labor in America, and progresses into the current prison-industrial complex, with works by Melvin Edwards. Then it’s on to the American landscape, and to a section called “Documenting Black Life,” featuring photographers Charles “Teenie” Harris and James VanDerZee. Finally, we come to “Shrines for the Spirit” and “Forms of Resistance,” which examine artists’ responses to current conditions. Each section is vitally important, not only to understand how we got to where we are in America, but also to understand how others have seen it, and see it now.

Is it possible that every American can find something to relate to in this exhibit? It’s a lofty goal, but a noble one.

“I think you’ll find there’s something for everybody to identify with,” Crosby is quoted as saying, “to consider their own American experience, their own American moment.”

Click here to read the full article in Vogue.

Click here to find out more about 20/20: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Carnegie Museum of Art.

Ali Trachta

Ali Trachta joyfully returned home to Pittsburgh after a long stint at LA Weekly. Most recently she served as its online editor as well as digital strategist for its parent company, Voice Media Group,...