Art Production Fund presented Chorus by Kiki Smith as the third installation at The Last Lot project space on 46th Street and 8th Avenue in New York City. Chorus was made possible with the generous support of UBS.
Kiki Smith's Chorus displayed multicolored stained-glass stars clustered throughout the lot. The free-standing sculptures ranged from 18 inches to six feet in height and were a kaleidoscope of hand-blown, translucent, iridized, modeled, and cathedral glass. The stars evoked the glamorous heyday 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.
The rainbow-colored star clusters pay tribute to Josephine Baker, the American-born French burlesque dancer, singer and actress, who epitomized the sensuality and spectacle of the burlesque follies of the 1920’s. The first African American female to star in a major motion picture, and the quintessential entertainer of that time, 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.
Smith has worked extensively with stained glass. Her use of glass as a medium began at the onset of her career in the mid 1980’s - a time when glasswork was dismissed as craft. Smith draws inspiration from the history of decorative objects and the tradition of biblical storytelling through the form of stained glass in architecture.
The Last Lot was a generous short-term donation to Art Production Fund from The Shubert Organization, and was part of the Times Square Alliance’s public art program that continues to bring cutting-edge art to Times Square.