Students Salute Oprah

Lafayette students helped wish Oprah Winfrey farewell when she hosted her final show May 25. Under the direction of Curlee Holton, Roth Professor of Art and director of the Experimental Printmaking Institute, they produced an edition of 25 silkscreen prints by Faith Ringgold called Oprah We Love You.

Ringgold and artist Grace Matthews adapted the imagery for the print from the art of the Kuba people of central Africa. 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 Oprah.

“It was already cool to work on a Faith Ringgold design, but even cooler to realize that the print was for Oprah,” says Annie Zheng ’14. “I had a chance to be a part of it all, from prepping and troubleshooting to the actual manual printing.” The project was featured in ArtInfo, Black Art in America, and other media outlets.

The students included Elizabeth Anderson ’14, Arlana Egan ’11, who is majoring in art and psychology, Evan McGovern ’12 (art), Sarah Strang ’11 (art and French), and Lauren Vassallo ’11 (English). They 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.

“I enjoyed working on the design of such a well-respected artist,” says Strang, who will pursue a master’s degree in interior design at Boston Architectural College. “Meeting Faith in her home and presenting her with our completed print was extraordinary.”

Holton says, “This opportunity allowed the students to work with a famous artist and to make a small contribution directly to the larger art world and art history. Faith was very pleased with their work.”