To walk through the vault door is a reminder that this is a secure space containing invaluable objects, documents, and histories. The Vault is a series of collections reimagined as a portrait of our collective history within a museum’s exhibition space. This protected space demonstrates that our interiors and the objects that we covet shape who we are.
Race has always been a significant factor in determining equity, ownership, and rights in the United States of America.
Not only has this country continuously attempted to convert Black people and their cultural contributions into objects of possession, but Black Americans have been disproportionately barred from access to property, wealth, land ownership, and occupancy for centuries.
Over generations, forced migration throughout the African diaspora has left many Black people without a sense of history or home. As a people who are constantly grappling with displacement — perpetuated by slavery, the Great Migration, segregation, housing discrimination, and gentrification — moving through space is a practice built out of necessity, bodily protection, and an urgency to lay down familial roots.
In addition to the lack of stability and access, Black Americans have had to navigate a complex legal system used to prohibit them from access to home ownership. From legal housing discrimination practices and policies like red-lining, racially-restrictive covenants, disparate access to credit, consistent devaluation and divestment, government expropriation through sanctioned and racist practices like Eminent Domain, evictions, and failed urban redevelopment projects, unseen restrictions
were placed on the land for our people.
The privilege of home — to be able to choose a safe, stable, and consistent space — affords choice, agency and autonomy. At home, our roles and identities are chosen rather than assigned. The home is our sanctuary of affirmation, healing, joy, comfort, and freedom. Our domestic homespaces are necessary for our survival. After all, the home is where we first come to learn and love ourselves.
— Jessica Gaynelle Moss, curator of The Vault
Welcome to the Vault
The Vault presents important works of art previously kept in the private homes of collectors throughout Mecklenburg County. Depicting our history through the idioms of quiet, interior, domestic space, curator Jessica Gaynelle Moss has worked closely with four Charlotte-based art collectors — Judy and Patrick Diamond, Nina and James Jackson, Christy and Quincy Lee, and Cheryse and Christopher Terry — to transform the museum into a series of thematic interiors based on each of their private collections.
The Capsule: Collector X Collector Series
The Capsule: Collector X Collector Series presents conversations between the collector couples featured in The Vault and prominent art collectors from around the nation.
Collectors in addition to the couples featured in The Vault, include Darryl Atwell from Washington, DC, Larry Ossei Mensah from New York City, Juana Williams from Detroit, and Ciera McKissick and zakkiyyah dumas o’neal from Chicago. These discussions build upon the methodologies, philosophies, and approaches already shared by the four local collectors throughout The Vault, by underscoring an even greater range of collecting practices and strategies. Excerpts from The Capsule: Collector X Collector Series discussions follow below. Hear the full conversations on The Mint’s YouTube channel.
Meet the Collectors
The Diamonds have spent the last 48 years amassing a collection of Black art that includes works by some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and Jacob Lawrence. They buy methodically, and rarely, as an investment. They are privy to the market, incredibly knowledgeable, and maintain great friendships with the artists whose work they collect. In this exhibition, they will share works by Hale Woodruff, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, John Tweedle, Margaret Burroughs, Elizabeth Catlett, and Nellie Ashford.
Collector X Collector Conversation
Judy and Patrick Diamond are joined with Chicago collector couple Ciera McKissick — an independent writer, curator, cultural producer, and the founder of AMFM, an organization whose mission is to promote emerging artists — and zakkiyyah dumas o’neal, a practicing visual artist and the current Public Programs and Engagement Manager at South Side Community Art Center. This intergenerational conversation brought two collector couples together to discuss their relationships with artists, preserving individual works, navigating a collaborative collecting practice, and their shared experience at the South Side Community Art Center in Chicago, an organization started by Black students from the School of the Art Institute when no institutions would exhibit their work.
Patrick Diamond: The truly extraordinary components of our collecting over a 50-year marriage has been that we have gotten to know, and in some cases, we build personal relationships with a lot of the artists that we’ve collected. One of the beauties for us has been, again, getting to know the artists. Maybe going to an exhibition opening, having the opportunity to meet them and then over time cultivating a relationship. And then in many instances, they extended invitations for us to visit with them in their homes and or studios. For us, it’s been like a magic carpet ride. We couldn’t have anticipated or expected any of this because initially, we just wanted to outfit our apartment with African American Art. We wanted our son to grow up around African American art. We never did an awful lot of entertaining and having friends in to view the art. We just loved living with the works, getting to know these wonderful people.
Ciera McKissick: Yeah, I think we can definitely relate. We both are artists and curators in a tight
knit artistic community in Chicago. I came here from Milwaukee about 10 years ago and was only
supposed to stay in Chicago for one year. I was going to go to New York or to L.A. and ended up really falling in love with the creative artistic community here. We collect together, we collect separately. And I feel like our relationships with artists are very important to the aspect of collection as well. We collect from our friends. Or if I do curate an exhibition, I always try to acquire a piece from that show or I’ve been given pieces before. And I think that mentorship and kind of that relationship building has always been at the crux of my work in general. So we take an intentional approach to those conversations around acquiring work as well.
zakkiyyah dumas o’neal: And yeah, and I think similarly with us, we just love living with art … We do have varying tastes, but I think it’s also getting at a point like within our small apartment, where we kind of want more wall space because we want more art, because we’ve just become very, very passionate about, again, as an artist myself, just like I’m also passionate about supporting other artists and also living with the work of my contemporaries because I really do believe in supporting their work and I want to see them thrive. But I also think there’s something really special about being able to live with work that people are making and the time that we’re also living in, especially right now. Also in this moment when a lot of Black artists are sort of getting more opportunities for collecting and getting more opportunities for having their work seen. And we do like to entertain. And it’s actually encouraged some of our friends when they come to our home. We know a lot of people who have never really thought about collecting or they think that it’s not accessible to them. And they come to our home and they’re always surprised and shocked to see.
Meet the Curator
Guest curator and artist Jessica Gaynelle Moss is the founding director of The Roll Up, an artist residency program connecting artists and community residents in the Camp Greene neighborhood of Charlotte, frequently speaks on panels about artist support, advocacy, and stewardship. Previous curatorial projects include mood:BLACK at Goodyear Arts (2017), BLACK BLOODED at New Gallery of Modern Art (2018), Southern Constellations at North Carolina A&T State University (2019), Taking Care at Silver Eye Center for Photography (2021), SHRINE at the Mattress Factory (2022), and TEMPLE at PRIZM Art Fair, Miami Art Week (2022).
Jessica received a bachelor’s in fine art from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009; a master’s degree in arts administration, policy and management from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015; and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2018.
In her own domestic space, Moss surrounds herself with works of art that have been carefully assembled with intention and through dedicated research. Her collection consists of vinyl records, books, vintage furniture, and fine art. As a custodian of Black art, she is deeply invested in supporting artists over time rather than the cultivation of an art object. She has amassed an impressive interdisciplinary collection of works by artists including Carris Adams, Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., Damien Davis, Yashua Klos, Tsedaye Makonnen, Ayanah Moor, Mario Moore, Carmen Neely, Bola Obatuyi, and Deborah Roberts.