On May 5, Kanye West will receive an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. And, of course, some people are pissed.
In an interview with The Fader, the school’s dean and president discussed some of the backlash they’ve received for giving Kanye such an honor, which has been previously given to figures like Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic, and Yoko Ono.
"I actually think that's a high-low problem," Dean Lisa Wainwrigh told The Fader. "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."
SAIC President Walter E. Massey echoed Wainwright’s sentiment, explaining that despite Kanye’s polarizing persona, he has created highly influential work, and those who criticize this honor simply can’t see past what the media portrays.
"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," Massey said. "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."