Are you tired of hearing about Kanye West? Well, that’s too bad because Kanye is making yet another name for himself.
Last month, the Art Institute of Chicago announced that they’d be awarding Yeezy with an honorary doctoral degree at the class of 2015’s commencement ceremony. While some people have been responding differently to the news, others have been praising the rap mogul for this award. Students of the campus have been handing out flyers either for this decision or against it. SAIC President Walter E. Massey and Dean of Faculty Lisa Wainwright spoke to Fader about their decision to honor Kanye.
“Us giving Kanye this honorary degree shows a lot of complexity in his music and his creative persona that they didn’t see before,” Massey said. “I know you’re going to ask whether we’ve had controversy, and, as you might expect, we’ve had some. But, what’s been interesting is the people who have been positive. Those who seem to oppose it react in a kind of visceral way to what they see: his surface image, what they see on television about him taking the Grammy from Taylor Swift. So they haven’t taken the time, haven’t been interested enough, to really see behind those kind of surface images. What a good thing about this for me—I’m not an artist—is that this is provoking just the kind of discussion we like to have. What is art? Who’s an artist?”
“Not much,” said Wainwright. “A little from some alums. I actually think that’s a high-low problem. There’s still this sense that high art is what we do, is what we honor, is what we’re about. And that pop culture is not what we teach in art school. Pop culture, mass culture—that’s a whole other thing, and we’re about high art. I think that’s a problem. We’re trying to collapse those boundaries a little bit. That’s what I like about Kanye. Chicago’s known for it. Chicago pop art. Harry Who and The Chicago Imagists. Chicago’s known for really looking at source material that’s popular. And yet we’re associated with the museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, which features high art. A little bit of it was class within the art world. There are many classes in the art world, some of the push back was, “Wait a second, this is pop.” That’s what I dig. We’re going to have, on stage, both the director of the Art Institute, Doug Druick, who’s a very renowned historian of 19th century art and runs a major encyclopedic museum in the country, and Kanye West, who talks to the people on the street. It’s perfect. I love the combination.”
We’ll just sit back and let the Kardashian-West family be great. Congrats Yeezy!