Nzinga simone

Independent curator & arts writer

Nzinga Simone is a curator, art history scholar, and writer based in Durham, NC. Through her critical writing and curatorial praxis, she aims expand the field of art history to illuminate the vast and significant contributions of black, brown and women artists to the canon of American Art.

It is my goal to prompt meaningful encounters with art that transform the way we see ourselves, the world, and its possibilities.

© Nzinga Simmons. All rights reserved.



UNBOUND at the Zuckerman Museum of Art

UNBOUND examines black artists whose work takes an inventive and experimental approach to abstraction. Multigenerational in scope, the exhibition considers the history of black abstraction from the mid century to the contemporary moment. It examines the way artists Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Joe Overstreet, and Eric N. Mack, Anthony Akinbola, Krista Clark, and Tariku Shiferaw diverge from a collectivist black-ideological norm centered on figuration, and expand the boundaries of painting as a medium through innovative use of form and material. UNBOUND offers an inquiry into the complex intersections between the history of abstraction, identity politics, and black artistic production.

The exhibition and accompanying publication presents the opportunity to deeply examine artists of the African Diaspora whose practice lie outside the bounds of figuration. It prompts a consideration of how ontological blackness can be represented without the depiction of a figure, and further, how avant garde forms of art can present new spaces of possibility in the ways that race, gender, and sexuality are expressed.


UNBOUND, Exhibition Catalogue, Zuckerman Museum of Art, March 2020 (pictured left).

Simone Leigh: Loophole of Retreat at the Guggenheim, Exhibition Review, Art Papers, Fall 2019.


Nzinga Simone is an independent curator, arts writer and art history scholar based in Durham, NC.

She previously served as the inaugural Tina Dunkley Curatorial Fellow in American Art, funded by the Walton and Ford Foundation’s Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative. Her curatorial work has been shown at the Zuckerman Museum of Art, the Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Gaddy-Hamrick Art Center at Meredith College.

Simmons received a B.A. in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University.


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