Day 1: Xaviera Simmons and Carrie Mae Weems
Thank you for following along. The exhibition opens tomorrow!
Not only is today special because it’s the last day of our countdown, but since 30 Americans in fact features 31 artists, we’re doubling up today. Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) and Xaviera Simmons (b. 1974) both draw inspiration from popular music, and while they listen to some of the same tunes, their approaches embody perspectives and attitudes of different generations.
In addition to creating dazzling photographs and gripping sculptures, Xaviera Simmons also makes critically acclaimed installations. These often investigate music, particularly cherished LP artwork. In 2006, she created How to Break Your Own Heart, stapling classic jazz albums covers on the walls of New York City’s Art in General gallery, where she frequently deejays. “I constructed this installation as a site of sensorial intervention in a heavily trafficked landscape,” she explained to the New York Foundation for the Arts. “My intentions were also to create a space that was immediately educational to the passerby, a space that engages as well as surprises.”
The following year, she reprised the concept at Houston’s Contemporary Art Museum with the installation, Electric Relaxation: Digital Good Times, which included R&B and hip-hop album covers along with archival video footage.
Carrie Mae Weems
For more than 25 years, Carrie Mae Weems has explored themes of race, gender relations, and family history in her installations. Recently, the award-winning visual artist teamed up with the critically acclaimed jazz pianist Geri Allen on Flying toward the Sound (2010). Weems produced images and videos for Allen’s amazing solo piano excursions.
Watch Weems video for Geri Allen’s “Faith Carriers of Life” from Flying toward the Sound.
30 Americans is organized by the Rubell Family Collection, Miami. The presenting sponsor at the Corcoran Gallery of Art is Altria Group.
Additional support has been provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.