Local black philanthropy supports DIA Exhibition of "30 Americans" exhibit

The Detroit Institute of Arts’ presentation of African American art in its “30 Americans” exhibition provides a unique opportunity for Detroit’s African American community to be engaged in a major way in the delivery of outstanding events and programs that benefit our entire community.
More than $200,000 has been raised by a local philanthropic community committee effort led by Juliette Okotie-Eboh, Reuben Munday, and Dr. Lorna Thomas, including a significant contribution from one of the exhibition’s lead sponsors, the DIA auxiliary Friends of African and African American Art. This extraordinary commitment will underwrite the costs involved in not only mounting the exhibition but also providing community programs during the entire twelve weeks the show will be at the museum.
The fundraising committee, Tonya Allen, Bill Burdett, Mark Douglas, Linda Forte, Alyssa Martina, William Pickard, Roy and Maureen Roberts, Nettie Seabrooks, Suzanne Shank, Buzz Thomas, Delphine Tupper, Anne Watson, Rhonda Welburn and Barbara Whittaker, worked for more than six months to solicit supporters – some of whom have been engaged with the DIA and some who have not – to broaden the museum’s reach in the community.
“30 Americans”, a dynamic exhibition of outstanding contemporary art on view at the DIA October 18, 2015 to January 18, 2016, showcases 55 paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs and videos by many of the important African American artists who rose to prominence during recent decades by exploring racial, gender, political and historical identity in contemporary culture. Among the renowned artists included are Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave, Michalene Thomas, Barkley Hendricks, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson and the late Jean-Michel Basquiat. The exhibition is drawn from the acclaimed Rubell Family Collection in Miami.
The importance of the 30 Americans exhibition cannot be overemphasized. In addition to the world-class art being presented, a number of programs exploring the complexities of identity and narrative, building and exhibiting a collection of African American art, and the varied perspectives on changing artistic expressions will be presented by nationally known and respected artists and scholars.
Dozens of area cultural organizations and community groups are presenting programs that relate to the exhibition, among them the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Arab American National Museum and the Ferndale Area District Library.
Work of the Detroit fundraising committee also cannot be overemphasized. Committee members successfully solicited 65 sponsors who contributed at least $1,000 to support this very important exhibition. These sponsors recognized this as an opportunity to participate in providing art and programs that benefit our community in a new way. Though major exhibitions such as this are ticketed, admission to 30 Americans is free for everyone on opening and closing days, and the first Saturday and Sunday weekends in November, December and January.
My long history of involvement with the Detroit Institute of Arts both as a member of the City of Detroit Arts Commission and as an Honorary Member of the DIA Board of Directors has given me the opportunity to understand the DIA’s continuing emphasis on presenting the very best to our museum visitors and the importance of this institution to our city and state.
It is indeed gratifying to see members of our community taking the responsibility to ensure that this exhibition and all that it brings in terms of educational and enrichment programs is the success we all want it to be.

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