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The Vault: John Wesley

Oct. 6 – 31, 2021

The Vault

John Wesley, <i>Boyfriends</i>, 2001. MSU purchase, funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies

John Wesley, Boyfriends, 2001. MSU purchase, funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies

This work was selected by Zane Kemper (Graduate Student in the Department of Arts, Cultural Management and Museum Studies at Michigan State University), who explains: “I studied art history in undergrad, and I was drawn to the way this work referenced many of my favorite genres and styles. Boyfriends could be found at the intersection of pop art, minimalism, and surrealism. As a queer person, I find myself most drawn to artworks that challenge traditional binary ideas of gender and sexual orientation. The androgenous features of the figure in the foreground could belong to a person of any gender identity. The artist reduced the image to simple elements of form, line, and color, and so much information seems to be left out making it difficult to the viewer to discern what is happening. I believe this artwork’s title also furthers this narrative as it is unclear who in the image it refers to. The image’s ambiguity paired with its playfully vague title invites the viewer to fill in the blanks. The work is an enigma, a visual riddle.”

The Vault

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.