sfai news

April 27, 2010

SFAI Bestows Honorary Doctorates and Douglas MacAgy Award at 2010 Commencement

In recognition of their outstanding contributions to global contemporary art, culture, and thought, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) will be conferring honorary Doctorates of Fine Arts on Huang Yong Ping and Nalini Malani as well as the Douglas MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award on Ruth Braunstein at SFAI’s 132nd Commencement on Saturday, May 15, 2010.

“It’s a special privilege for us,” SFAI President Chris Bratton said, “to honor the extraordinary work and careers of Huang Yong Ping and Nalini Malani. Both of these artists have created compelling and important critiques of the larger global processes that exclude non-Western traditions of art, culture, and thought. As for Ruth Braunstein, the most recent recipient of SFAI’s Douglas MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award, I can say only what everyone locally connected to the arts already knows: she has been an unwavering advocate and champion for the many generations of Bay Area artists who have shaped San Francisco’s reputation as a center for contemporary art.”

Huang and Malani join SFAI’s long and eminent list of honorary DFAs, including, among many others, Graciela Iturbide, Ed Ruscha, Thelma Golden, Hans Haacke, Joan Jonas, Kynaston McShine, Suzanne Ghez, Doris Salcedo, Charles Burnett, Pirkle Jones, Alanna Heiss, René Francisco Rodriguez, Elizabeth Murray, David Ireland, Meredith Monk, Ruth Asawa, bell hooks, Annie Leibovitz, Manuel Neri, Bruce Nauman, Wayne Thiebaud, Bruce Conner, David Hockney, Lucy Lippard, Jay DeFeo, Stan Brakhage, Laurie Anderson, Ansel Adams, Clyfford Still, and Richard Diebenkorn.

Braunstein likewise joins a list of eminent Douglas MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Awardees, including David Robinson, Marion Green, Paule Anglim, San Francisco Cinematheque, Kitty Carlisle Hart, The Names Project, and Guerrilla Girls.

Bios of Awardees

Throughout her half-century-long career, Ruth Braunstein has been a tireless advocate of the arts in the Bay Area. In 1961, she first opened the Quay Gallery in Tiburon (now the Braunstein/Quay Gallery in San Francisco) with the principal intention of exhibiting unknown and untried artists—in particular, artists from or living in the Bay Area. In 1967, she became a member of the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SECA) at SFMOMA and a founding member of the biennial SECA Art Award. In 1976, she became a charter member and president of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, and recently she has pressed the cause of securing sustainable funding for the maintenance of San Francisco’s public art through ArtCare. In 2010, in addition to receiving SFAI’s Douglas MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award, Braunstein will have a Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed upon her by the San Francisco Fine Art Fair, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and the San Francisco Art Dealers Association.

A founding member of the Xiamen Dada group in China during the mid-1980s, Paris-based Huang Yong Ping has focused his thought and work on confronting the ontological paradoxes inherent in language and cultural practice as well as on the ways in which such paradoxes inform both historical and contemporary geopolitical cultural exchange. Delving into formal and conceptual practices from Eastern and Western art history, he utilizes a range of media within a conceptual program that leverages the power of art to instigate reform. Inspired by imagery from those ancient philosophies and religions that have been largely marginalized by the hegemonic practices of the modern period, Huang’s work attempts to deconstruct dominant ideological and political systems. Solo-exhibition venues include the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (Minnesota, USA), the Center for Contemporary Art in Kitakyushu (Japan), De Appel Arts Centre in Amsterdam, and the Barbican Art Gallery in London. Group-exhibition venues include the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the 48th Venice Biennial.

Along with her family, Nalini Malani came to Bombay as a refugee during the aftermath of the partition of India in August 1947. By placing inherited iconographies and cherished cultural stereotypes under a critical lens, she has, since the 70s, been visualizing an emphatically feminist stance in a nation seized by political, religious, and economic turmoil. Unwaveringly urban and internationalist, her art is an art of excess—going beyond the boundaries of legitimized narrative, exceeding the conventional, and initiating unforeseen forms of dialogue. Employing myths, fairy tales, and religions of diverse cultures, she depicts the female point of view in both past and future scenarios. In the early 90s, Malani freed her practice from the confines of the painting’s frame to create ephemeral wall drawings, theatrical works, and video and shadow plays—an artistic emancipation that became a pioneering example for younger generations. Recent solo-exhibition venues include the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne (France).

Douglas MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award

Established at SFAI in 1996, the Douglas MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award is periodically bestowed on a person, organization, group, or cause that has made a singularly compelling contribution to the contemporary art world, especially as that contribution concerns the public awareness of issues and ideas in the visual arts.