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At the opening, Gates told the crowd:

When Beth DeWoody and I first started talking about having works from her collection here, I had this weird moment, where I was like, ‘Well, if everything in the collection is black, do I just call it the “Black Art Show?” Because apparently, if black people are making art, they’re making things about the same subject. What I wanted to try do in the exhibition with Beth’s support was to demonstrate that these paintings are talking about something beyond race. They’re talking about black interiority, and that interiority has so many different personalities. Those personalities are being captured by super smart people who know how to wield the human idea, but they also know how to wield that into a representative body. There are paintings and sculptures that symbolize and represent other things. This is not just a black show. It’s a show about black feelings.