ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON —Bard College announced it has received $3.2 million to endow in perpetuity the Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism, an annual faculty position that brings a prominent scholar, activist, or practicing artist to teach and conduct research within the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS Bard) graduate program and the undergraduate Human Rights Program. The endowment is made possible by a grant of$800,000 from the Keith Haring Foundation and matching funds from the Marieluise Hessel Foundation and benefactor George Soros. First launched in 2014, the fellowship embodies the shared commitment of Bard and the Keith Haring Foundation to imaginatively explore the complex connections between sociopolitical engagement and artistic practice. It also speaks to the historic relationship between the college and Keith Haring, which is further honored with CCS Bard’s permanent reinstallation of a wall drawing the artist created in an act of spontaneity while visiting the campus in 1981.
In conjunction with the gift and reinstallation, Bard simultaneously announced that writer Haytham el-Wardany has been named the 2022-23 recipient of the Keith Haring Fellowship and will be in-residence on campus during the spring semester to teach and conduct research. El-Wardany brings to Bard students a deep knowledge of philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, history, and literature with a focus on social movements in the Middle East and around the globe. Using collective reading as a vehicle for cultural research and debate, his teaching will bring a richly literary and global dimension to CCS Bard and the Human Rights Program’s curricula, advancing Bard College’s mission of cultivating critical thinking and creative action through deeper understandings of human history, society, and the arts.
“To sustain this fellowship as a catalyst for new research and a benefit to our students, I am delighted that the Keith Haring Foundation has generated a permanent endowment for one of our most successful pedagogical and research positions,” said Tom Eccles, Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. “The Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism has, for eight years, drawn a broad array of scholars and activists, both local and international, with a diverse range of interests to Bard’s graduate and undergraduate programs. Responsive to current concerns and urgencies, the fellows are all changemakers in their respective fields.”
“Haytham el-Wardany is a complex and elegant thinker whose work as a writer and a teacher demonstrates the power of close reading for understanding and engaging in both the arts and politics,” said Thomas Keenan of Bard’s Human Rights Project. “We look forward to welcoming him on campus to expand on a body of work that actively responds to current debates and provides new frameworks for students to build critical bridges between art and activism.”
“The Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism has been an enormous source of pride for the Keith Haring Foundation for the last eight years. It is a nod to the spirit and belief of Keith Haring that both art and activism can complement one another and bring about social and political change. We are honored to partner with the Marieluise Hessel Foundation and George Soros to ensure this critical work continues perpetually,” said Gil Vazquez, Executive Director of the Haring Foundation.
About the Haring Wall Drawing
In the early 1980s, Keith Haring was invited by Bard College Professor of Art History Tom Wolf to speak at the Procter Art Center (now the Fisher Studio Arts Building) about his practice and personal ethics around graffiti art. Prior to the talk, in an act of spontaneity, using a fat Magic Marker, Haring drew a series of five crawling babies on the wall of Wolf’s office. During a phase of construction and expansion in the Fisher Arts Studio Building, a portion of the wall with the drawing was carved out and moved to Wolf’s new office located in a different building on campus.
With Wolf’s imminent retirement from Bard College, the work will be transferred from the Department of Art and Art History to CCS Bard to undergo conservation and stabilization. It will be permanently installed in the CCS Bard Library, where students, researchers, and guests will have continued access to Haring’s work, illustrating the connection between Keith Haring and Bard College.