Artblog Radio – Vashti DuBois of The Colored Girls Museum
Artblog's Jennifer Zarro speaks with Vashti DuBois, founder and Executive Director of The Colored Girls Museum, about telling the stories of women of color through art and everyday objects. – Artblog editor

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The Colored Girls Museum is installed in a Victorian twin on a quiet street in the historic Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Everything about this house museum is welcoming–the long walkway lined with daffodils, the generous L-shaped porch, the parlors. Most welcoming is Vashti DuBois, Executive Director, founder, and homeowner, who opens The Colored Girls Museum to visitors on most Sundays.

colored girls museum installation
Image courtesy of The Colored Girls Museum

DuBois created and cares for this this museum in partnership with curator Michael Clemmons and Associate Director Ian Friday. The first large room here, Salon I, is exemplary of this team’s overall achievements. The walls are hung salon style with artworks from floor to ceiling; the space is punctuated by sculptures by Barbara Bullock and ceramic pieces by Clemmons. In and among the work of these accomplished artists are “ordinary” objects–photographs or other items donated by non-artists which advance the story of the “ordinary extraordinary,” a concept that reverberates throughout the three stories and many rooms here. This is a place where art and everyday meet, where voices of artists and others resound together to celebrate the stories of colored girls and women.

colored girls museum installation
Image courtesy of The Colored Girls Museum

Other rooms of the home are fully installed around a single theme. The back, shed-like space of the first floor is a work room of sorts where themes of labor, enslavement, force, and freedom are explored. Resting on a table are a pair of small iron shackles altered by the addition of paper wings. A narrative about how, where, and why these shackles were submitted to this museum is nearby and worth reading.

colored girls museum installation
Small Shackles with Wings, Image courtesy of the Colored Girls Museum

Most rooms in The Colored Girls Museum are dedicated to women of color; their names are framed in the doorways. This is a museum of Herstory told through art, through shout outs to accomplished and heroic women, and through everyday stories about ordinary and extraordinary lives.

In this edition of ArtBlog Radio, Vashi DuBois explains the origin story of The Colored Girls Museum and how and why this museum is intent on archiving and celebrating the creative lives of women and girls of color. Our conversation was recorded on April 8, 2016, at The Colored Girls Museum, 4613 Newhall Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19144. Tours are offered most Sundays, but do check the website to confirm the schedule.

Tags

Ian Friday, michael clemmons, philadelphia, The Colored Girls Museum, Vashti DuBois

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