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Theaster Gates to Speak, Receive Honorary Degree at MassArt 2021 Virtual Commencement

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Interdisciplinary artist and social innovator will be recognized for contributions to art and design at MassArt virtual commencement ceremony on May 22, 2021

Boston, April 29, 2021 – Today, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) announced that Theaster Gates, artist and social innovator, will offer remarks to graduates and accept an honorary doctor of fine arts degree at the 2021 MassArt virtual commencement ceremony on May 22. 

Theaster Gates is an interdisciplinary artist who works in sculpture, installation, film, performance, and music in urban spaces. He has exhibited and performed extensively throughout the world, most recently at the Gagosian Gallery in New York; the Tate Liverpool in the UK; the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis; and at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Gates founded the Rebuild Foundation in 2010, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing and reinvesting in neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, where Gates resides. The Foundation empowers its neighborhood residents to lead the positive transformation of their community through culture-based, artist-led programs. Rebuild also provides free arts programming, creates new cultural amenities, and supports artists through the creation of affordable housing, studio, and live-work spaces. In 2014 Gates joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in the Department of Visual Arts and serves as the Senior Advisor for Cultural Innovation and Advisor to the Dean. 

On May 21st, at the virtual MassArt Academic Awards Ceremony, alumna Jennifer Morla will offer remarks and will receive the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award. The founder of Morla Design, Ms. Morla is an award-winning designer whose clients include Apple, Levi Strauss, and MTV, and her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian, among others. She has taught at California College of the Arts for over 20 years.

The 2021 MassArt virtual Commencement ceremony and Academic Awards ceremony will be live-streamed at


About MassArt

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) is a public, independent institution that prepares artists, designers, and educators to shape communities, economies, and cultures for the common good. Since 1873, MassArt has built a legacy of leadership as the first freestanding public college of art and design in the country, and the nation’s first art school to grant a degree. MassArt offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in art, design, and art education, taught by world-class faculty.

Image by  John R. Boehm

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