Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts announced today that Kara Walker has been appointed as the school’s Tepper Chair. Under her new title, Walker will create a positive research environment for the school’s students. She will start this fall and remain the school’s Tepper Chair for the next five years.
Rutgers’s Tepper Chair position (which, confusingly, is different from its regular Chair) was founded in 2011 after Marlene A. Tepper pledged $3 million to the school. Walker now succeeds the artist Catherine Murphy as the second person to hold this position.
“If anything, I can foster an environment of openness and maybe willingness to live with contentious images and objectionable ideas, particularly in the space of art,” Walker, who has previously taught in Columbia’s M.F.A. program, said in a statement. “For me, it gets us to a place where we can talk to those concerns and how as artists we can creatively solve problems when problems arise.”
Walker’s provocative art has unflinchingly dealt with race, gender, sexuality, and Americana in the past, and her openness to taboo topics, she believes, will hopefully encourage Rutgers students. “Rutgers just gave me a sense of what I was missing in the Ivy League, maybe a kind of hunger,” she said. “The school is really a good place to push at boundaries.”