This work was selected by Paris Harper (class of 2017), who explains: “I chose this work because it highlights one of my greatest inspirations: performer and jazz icon Josephine Baker. Aesthetically, I have a deep appreciation for the art and culture of Harlem during the Jazz Age, so I wanted to choose a piece that speaks to the glamour and luxury of the 1920s. I was vaguely familiar with Faith Ringgold prior to finding this piece. I was aware that a lot of her fame came from her quilts, but learned that she was an artist skilled in painting, sculptures, writing, and performance art as well. Beyond her art, Ringgold is also an activist who is involved with many feminist and anti-racist organizations. This work is important to put on display because it focuses on the wealth and status of a black woman. The glamorous performer Josephine Baker lounges in a carefree pose, almost naked, wearing a string of pearls while her white housekeeper tends to the house. Representation in art is important.”
The Vault, which also houses some of the works from our permanent collection, is dedicated to featuring and displaying works chosen by MSU students who work at the museum. Each month, one of our student gallery guides selects a piece from our collection and writes a short text explaining why they chose it and believe it should be displayed. By providing our gallery guides with an opportunity to participate in the curatorial process of selection and display, we aim to open a dialogue with the student community while simultaneously sharing with the public works from the collection that would otherwise remain in storage.