Vaughn Spann

American, born 1992 
Carolina Blues (Marked Man) 

Polymer paint, mixed media, canvas on wood panel
84 1/8 x 84 1/8 x 3in

Vaughn Spann’s densely layered, heavily textured and vibrantly colored paintings move fluidly between abstraction and representation. The work’s bright hues and visual beauty conflict with its solemn underlying themes of personal preservation and racial injustice. The abstracted X shape represents the same gesture and bodily pose one is forced to take while being frisked by the police – legs spread and arms up. 

This painting connects the countless experiences of people victimized by racial profiling. It also references the artist’s personal account of being stopped and frisked by the police during college. Spann states that the painting draws upon the “intensity of that moment being profiled,” or what he calls being “marked.” 

Acquired and Interpreted for the North Carolina Museum of Art, 2021


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Omar Victor Diop     

Senegalese, born 1980    

Frédérick Douglass  


Pigment inkjet on printing paper  

23 3/5 x 23 3/5 in.

Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop is a self-taught artist who draws inspiration for his work from celebrated figures within the African diaspora. Diop assumes the role of various saints, martyrs, and leaders from across the global Black community using baroque portraiture style, a genre classified by its dramatic tone and visual tension.

Frédérick Douglass appears in Diop’s Diaspora series, an arrangement of self‐portraits that reframe contemporary migration in a global historical context to show the contradictions of these movements across time and space. In Diaspora, Diop replaces traditional baroque-era accessories for soccer paraphernalia that reference an underlying conversation on global consumerism and migration, as well as the relationship between notoriety and erasure for Black constituents.

Acquired for the North Carolina Museum of Art, 2020



Jeppe Hein      

Danish, born 1974    

Mirror Labyrinth NY  


High polished stainless steel, aluminum    

106 1/4 x 277 1/2 x 288 1/4 in.

Jeppe Hein’s portfolio consists of numerous experiential and interactive public works that emphasize the intersections between art, architecture, and technical innovation. Hein's recent works involve the construction of mazes using different media and dynamic elements, including mirrors and light sculptures. Drawing inspiration from the 1970s Minimalist and Conceptual arts, these sculptures often incorporate components that place spectators at the center of events to focus on their experience and perception of the surrounding space.

Mirror Labyrinth NY is a site-specific installation comprised of equidistant reflective posts. The mirror-polished stainless steel panels form around three radiating arcs that form a labyrinth, distorting the surrounding environment. Mirroring the irregularity of the Manhattan skyline in New York City, the posts are set at various heights but maintain a consistent width. The multifaceted reflections produced by the mirrors put the viewer in an unfamiliar and disorienting setting, challenging their perception of space as they work through the labyrinth.

Acquired for the North Carolina Museum of Art, 2020 

Label Copy and  Interpretation

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Simone Leigh 

American, born 1967 



Bronze and raffia 

Inspired by architectural elements and African diasporic art, Leigh’s female figural sculpture is a commanding presence that portrays Black womanhood as a powerful experience constructed around themes of fortitude and persistence. The piece’s wide corrugated base emulates industrial materials and can be read as either a voluminous skirt or an abstracted body. Leigh further abstracts the figure by removing its eyes, resulting in an inwardly focused form that looks beyond the viewer rather than at them.


Through this sculpture, Leigh examines the complexity of Black women’s identity at the intersection of racial and gendered cultural systems. These cultural complexities require Black women to remain composed and stable despite traditional ideas of feminine fragility. Leigh’s perspective on race, gender, and power celebrates Black women’s resiliency as a tool of self-reliance.

Professional Media

Through a Lens Darkly 

NCMA Film Club

North Carolina Museum of Art  

May 2021


May's NCMA Film Club selection was the documentary film Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. It is the first documentary to explore the role that photography has played from the 19th century to the present in shaping the identity, aspirations, and social emergence of African Americans.


Our guest moderator for the discussion is Maya Brooks, Mellon Foundation assistant curator. The director, Thomas Allen Harris was our special guest

Description provided by the North Carolina Museum of Art 

Change the Face: Finding Power in Identity 

Lunchtime Lecture

North Carolina Museum of Art  

March 2021


Join us this Women’s History Month as we consider the intersections of power and identity via the NCMA’s contemporary art collection. Hear from Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator Maya Brooks as she compares various representations of Black women’s strength and examines how these pieces compel us to “change the face of power.”

Description provided by the North Carolina Museum of Art 

Interview with artist André Leon Gray

North Carolina Museum of Art  

July 2020


Video Visit with the Artist: André Leon Gray

Artist André Leon Gray recently spoke with Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator Maya Brooks about his creative process, which draws from jazz, basketball, and the individuality of the discarded objects that find their way into his work. He also offers a list of books and films that have contributed to the formation of his artistic voice.

Description provided by the NCMA from Home program, NCMA Recommends