School of art

School Notes: School of Art
January/February 2020

Marta Kuzma |

Alumna returns as honorary lecturer

Acclaimed artist and poet Barbara Chase-Riboud ’60MFA returned to campus this fall as the honorary lecturer of the School of Art’s 150th anniversary year. She took part in a public conversation on November 21 with Professor of Poetry Claudia Rankine and Dean and Professor of Art Marta Kuzma, as part of the school’s series of celebratory events.  

In 1960, Chase-Riboud became the first known African American woman to receive an MFA from what was then the Yale School of Architecture and Design. Her return to New Haven marks a significant historical moment for the Yale School of Art. It took nearly a century—91 years since the school’s opening—for the first known woman of color to be acknowledged as an artist in the way white women of privilege had enjoyed since 1869. Likewise, the School of Art was limited to male leadership until Marta Kuzma was appointed the first woman dean in the school’s history in 2016. In an unflinching conversation, Chase-Riboud, Rankine, and Kuzma discussed the overwhelming roles that race and gender have played—and continue to play—in spaces of institutional power such as Yale, and the ways in which Chase-Riboud’s practice has informed, and in many ways led, the development of abstraction in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Visiting fellow brings black feminist aesthetic to campus

Mickalene Thomas ’02MFA has been appointed the 2020 Presidential Visiting Fellow in Fine Arts. Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean Marta Kuzma notes that Thomas is “a black feminist artist whose practice contributes to the evolving conversation around post-blackness, sexuality, and power. . . . a fierce mentor who has supported emerging queer black artists, through fostering critical conversations and assisting with professional development.”

In a practice that spans from painting, collage, and photography to video and installation, Mickalene Thomas creates historically informed work that recasts the central protagonists as women of color in the creation of a new art history that references both the civil rights movement and second wave feminism.

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