When Oprah Winfrey hosted her final show May 25, Lafayette art students played a small role in saying goodbye to the media giant.
The students and Curlee Holton, Roth Professor of Art and director of the Experimental Printmaking Institute, have produced 25 limited-edition prints of Oprah We Love You by celebrated painter, author, and illustrator Faith Ringgold.
The project has been featured in the national media including ArtInfo, Black Art in America, and The Ledger in Lakewood, Fla.
“It was already cool to work on a Faith Ringgold design, but it was even cooler to realize that the print was for Oprah,” says Annie Zheng ’14 (Rockville, Md.). “I, like the rest of the students, were involved in almost every aspect of the printing. From prepping and troubleshooting to the actual manual printing, I had a chance to be a part of it all.”
Making the Oprah We Love You Print
Ringgold and artist Grace Matthews created the original imagery for the print from a design adapted from the art of the Kuba people of the Belgian Congo.
Ringgold arranged for the print and photos of her and the students to be delivered to Winfrey. Winfrey is a collector of Ringgold’s work, and the artist has been a guest on the show. The students presented Ringgold with the completed print at her home studio in New Jersey.
The remaining prints will be donated to women’s organizations in support of the Anyone Can Fly Foundation’s Women and Families in Crisis program. The prints will be available at the foundation’s 12th annual Garden Party June 12 in Englewood, N.J.
“This opportunity allows students to work with a famous artist and to make a small contribution directly to the larger art world and art history,” says Holton. “Faith was very pleased with the students’ work and has always celebrated the creativity of young people and the collaborative process.”
The students were Elizabeth Anderson ’14 (Madison, N.J.); Arlana Egan ’11 (New Providence, N.J.), an art and psychology double major; Evan McGovern ’12 (Harrisburg, Pa.), an art major; Sarah Strang ’11 (Winter Haven, Fla.), an art and French double major; and Lauren Vassallo ’11(South Huntington, N.Y.), an English major.
Students Visit Faith Ringgold
“I am extremely thankful that I was presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Strang, who will pursue a master’s degree in interior design at Boston Architectural College. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with my fellow classmates under the instruction of Professor Holton on the design of such a well-respected artist, Faith Ringgold. Meeting Faith in her home and presenting her with our completed print was an extraordinary experience that I will remember for a very long time.”
Holton established EPI in 1996 to promote research and experimentation within the print medium. Since its inception, the EPI visiting artist and artist-in-residence programs have introduced students to over 80 artists from diverse cultural and social backgrounds.
Visiting artists have included Richard Anuszkiewicz, David C. Driskell, Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, Grace Hartigan, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Al Loving, and Kay WalkingStick. They provide students with talented, well-educated, and ambitious role models. Their residencies have inspired print editions, experimental works, and artists’ books, which have been included in galleries and exhibits around the globe.