Kanye West Offers a Lesson in Postmodernism, Saying He’ll Teach a Class at the Art Institute of Chicago That Doesn’t Exist

On the other hand, he is taking inspiration from Kerry James Marshall.

Musician Kanye West appears at Chicago State University for
Musician Kanye West appears at Chicago State University for "MTVu Stand In" September 1, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. West joins as a surprise professor for the MTVu series, where they bring a cultural icon into the classroom to teach a group of unsuspecting students for the session. West teaches a songwriting master class at the university where he was a "college dropout". Photo by Tim Klein/Getty Images.

Kanye West, professor? The rapper and songwriter made headlines with a weekend Tweet announcing, simply, “I will teach a course at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art.” But even as super-fans began figuring out how they might enroll in one of the two Chicago schools, the institutions were quick to nip the tantalizing rumor in the bud.

“There are no plans for Kanye to speak or teach at the institution,” a press representative of the American Academy of Art told artnet News in an email.

Bree Witt, public relations director at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) sent a similar denial: “Mr. West is not currently teaching at SAIC, and at this time, there are no plans for him to do so.”

Still, if the hip hop star has his way, could he find himself at the head of the classroom?

He’s actually already done so, in the very same city, no less, as an MtvU Surprise Stand-In Professor teaching a workshop on songwriting at Chicago State University, back in 2005. (West’s mother was chair of the school’s English department, and West studied there before he dropped out at age 20.)

As for SAIC, the school did present West with an honorary doctorate back in 2015, after all. And it doesn’t seem like either schools he named is too mad about West’s announcement.

“We’re flattered that Mr. West would have an interest in teaching emerging artists and designers at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,” said Witt.

Theater Gates's Stony Island Arts Bank. Photo courtesy of the Rebuild Foundation.

Theater Gates’s Stony Island Arts Bank. Photo courtesy of the Rebuild Foundation

The Academy of Art’s flat denial of West’s claim “doesn’t mean they wouldn’t talk to him about the idea,” the school’s rep admitted—though the same spokesperson went on to stress that “it doesn’t sound like a discussion about the topic (or any) has transpired of late.”

Part of the confusion may stem from West’s creative interpretation of what it means to teach in, or attend, an institution of higher education. Recently the rapper also told told Extra TV that his wife, pop-culture supernova Kim Kardashian, “is in law school now.” A spokesperson for Kardashian later clarified that the star “is not in law school, but is so entrenched in the legal system with her activism that it is like going to law school.”

No matter what, West seems bent on participating in the cultural life of the Windy City, where he grew up. “We’re putting a Yeezy office in Chicago,” he wrote in one of a string of Chicago-related Tweets on Sunday. He also announced plans to participate in next month’s Chicago Comedy Jam stand-up festival as part of efforts to restore the city’s Avalon Regal Theater.

As for fine art, he mentioned visiting Theaster Gates’s Stony Island Arts Bank last week. And he also revealed, via Tweet, that the cover to his new single, an image by the London-based Shadi Al-Atallah, was influenced by this Kerry James Marshall painting:

Kanye West claims that the Shadi Al-Atallah-designed cover for his single "I Love It" with Lil Pump was a reference to this painting by Kerry James Marshall.

Kanye West claims that the Shadi Al-Atallah-designed cover for his single “I Love It” with Lil Pump was a reference to this painting by Kerry James Marshall.


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