Start Talking: Fischer/Shull Collection of Contemporary Art

September 17, 2022—February 5, 2023
East Building, Level B, Joyce W. Pope Gallery

This exhibition features selected pieces from an exceptional promised gift to the NCMA from the collection of Hedy Fischer and Randy Shull. Amassed over the past three decades and still ongoing, the collection includes seminal works by Abraham Cruzvillegas, Vanessa German, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Graciela Iturbide, Pope.L, Tina Modotti, Gabriel Rico, Alison Saar, Hank Willis Thomas, Nari Ward, and many others. This transformative gift will significantly expand the scope of the People’s Collection. It will augment works by artists currently in the collection and add works by artists previously not represented, enabling the Museum to present a comprehensive picture of the many major movements and artists in contemporary art.

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Gravitating toward artists who, as they describe it, “have something to say,” Fischer and Shull, based in Asheville, NC, and Merida, Mexico, have built a dynamic and ambitious collection since they started acquiring art in 1993. Looking across their gathering of artists, one can find connections between them that challenge the status quo and diverge from dominant historical perspectives around identity, power, resistance, and agency. Many of these pieces contain a sense of physicality and materiality, with tangible evidence of the artist’s hand in the creative process.

Fischer and Shull continue to establish spaces for social advocacy and community-centered art practice in their collection as it grows and develops. The collection reflects an awareness of power dynamics and institutional barriers, specifically in respect to women, Black, and Latinx artists. As the pair states, “Part of our commitment to the arts is a feeling of responsibility to participate in the global discourse that seeks to rewrite many overlooked histories and to provide an avenue for conversation and understanding.”

Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.


Hank Willis Thomas, Black Power, 2005, LightJet print, 25 × 40 in., Collection of Hedy Fischer and Randy Shull; © 2022 Hank Willis Thomas, Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa

Aida Muluneh, 99 Series (Part Seven 7), 2014, archival digital print, 15.75 × 15.75 in., Collection of Hedy Fischer and Randy Shull; © 2022 Aida Muluneh, Courtesy the artist and David Krut Projects, New York

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