Unlocking The Vault

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

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.

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

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.