Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kiki Smith's Stained-Glass Stars Art Installation "Chorus" Pays Tribute to Josephine Baker

CHORUS by Kiki Smith is the latest art installation at The Last Lot project space on 46th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan's theatre district. Presented by the Art Production Fund and supported by UBS, CHORUS is comprised of multicolored stained-glass stars clustered throughout the lot. The free standing sculptures range from 18 inches to six feet in height and are a kaleidoscope of hand-blown, translucent, iridized, modeled, and cathedral glass. Among the stars is a figure of Josephine Baker, the American-born French burlesque dancer, singer and actress in the 1920’s. As a tribute to Baker, the rainbow-colored stars evoke the glitz and glamor of Broadway and the Theater District surrounding the installation site. “As the sun shines through and glitters upon the translucent and opaque glass, the stars will contrast with the raw urban lot,” explained Smith. 

Josephine Baker was the first African American female to star in a major motion picture. She was also the quintessential entertainer of her era. Baker is also known for her support of the Civil Rights Movement and for her family of adopted children from all over the world, whom she called “The Rainbow Tribe.” Baker served as a muse to several influential artists based in Paris at the time such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso. Smith, whose work often explores feminist themes through depictions of the female body and women from history and mythology, is drawn to the complexity of Baker’s career as an erotic and primitivist performer/showgirl, and a social and political activist. The Last Lot is a generous short-term donation to Art Production Fund from The Shubert Organization, and is part of the Times Square Alliance’s public art program that works to bring cutting-edge art to Times Square. The display continues through September 4, 2012. (information obtained from the Times Square Alliance website).

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