Reality of My Surroundings: The Contemporary Collection

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Oklahoma, Durham, 10/01/2015 - 07/10/2016

2001 Campus Drive


In celebration of the museum’s 10th anniversary, the Nasher Museum presents some of its most significant works from the contemporary collection. Reality of My Surroundings demonstrates the museum’s ongoing commitment to collecting contemporary work by global artists, with a focus on artists of African descent. The exhibition emphasizes art’s unique role in effecting cultural change and highlights works that address pressing social issues of our day, particularly race, gender, class, immigration and globalization. It includes painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, video and installation. Many of the works are new acquisitions, including the video Girls, Tricky, by Academy Award-winning artist/director Steve McQueen.

The exhibition title, Reality of My Surroundings, comes from a 1991 album by the pioneering Los Angeles-based band Fishbone. Formed in 1979, the band was known for its sharp social commentary and eclectic style, fusing punk, funk, ska, soul, and hard-edge rock to make music that defied categorization. The artists in this exhibition similarly challenge artistic conventions and provoke thought and dialogue on decisive contemporary themes. Their individual works span four decades and present a broad range of cultural perspectives. Through this exhibition, viewers are invited to consider the complexity of their surroundings and how realities may change over time.

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