Kerry James Marshall Awarded Medal for Services to Humanity by University of Chicago

It celebrates Marshall's efforts to improve the representation of black people in the arts.

Kerry James Marshall poses during the NAMM Foundation Honors Turnaround Arts and GRAMMY Educator event Photo Kris Connor/Getty Images for NAMM

The American artist Kerry James Marshall has been awarded the prestigious Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal for outstanding achievement in creative and performing arts by the University of Chicago.

The Rosenberger Medal is awarded to a nominee as recognition for “achievements that benefit humanity” and in the case of Marshall, for his work on the representation of black people in museums in the US and around the world.

Marshall was born in Alabama in 1955 and then moved to Watts, South Central in Los Angeles. He now lives and works in Chicago.

Kerry James Marshall, Plunge, (1992). Courtesy of artnet.

Kerry James Marshall, Plunge (1992). Courtesy of artnet.

“You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility” he said in  the PBS Art21 series, as quoted by ArtForum. “You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go.”

Marshall’s work in video, painting, installation, and photography takes on and exposes common racial stereotypes and is highly popular in the art world and with the art loving public.

Although Marshall was already a prominent artist and active in his efforts to improve the representation of black people in art shown in institutions, he has gained recognition in recent years.

A retrospective of his work, titled “Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff,” went on view at M HKA, Antwerp in 2013, and then traveled to Copenhagen and Spain.

He installed his first public work on New York’s High Line in the shape of a huge mural in 2015, and has shown work at Documenta in 1997 and 2007, and at the 2009 Gwangju Biennial.

And, the icing on the cake, Beyoncé is a huge fan of his work.

Beyoncé imitates a Kerry James Marshall painting at David Zwirner, London.

Beyoncé imitates a Kerry James Marshall painting in 2014 at David Zwirner, London. Photo via Twitter.

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