“Artists on the Future,” a new series of talks on the intersection of art and socio-political issues, will premiere next month at Stanford University with a conversation between the painter Dana Schutz and Hamza Walker, the director of the Los Angeles–based nonprofit art space LAXART. Two others are planned so far (for May and October) in a new program developed by ARTnews “Top 200” collectors Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg with a mission to pair artists with thinkers for discussions suited to Stanford’s location in the midst of Northern California’s Silicon Valley.
Shah, who studied computer science at Stanford and is a trustee at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Americas Foundation, said she wants to help the university “become the hub of all conversations related to art and tech.” After conceiving “Artists on the Future” in response to a need “to elevate art’s vibrancy at Stanford,” Shah told ARTnews, “I hope we can have provocative, interesting conversation that leaves us thinking about artists and larger issues.”
The first event, on March 4, will focus on issues of appropriation and representation in relation to the question “Is all painting personal?”—a query that surrounded the controversial exhibition of Schutz’s painting Open Casket at the 2017 Whitney Biennial. “It made sense to kick off with her,” Shah said of Schutz. “I thought that, at Stanford, where we pride ourselves on being a hub for thinking, this would be a great conversation to have.”
A second talk on May 20 will take up social justice and diversity with artist Lorna Simpson in conversation with Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation. On October 22, Lynda Benglis, a prominent figure of the feminist-art movement of the 1970s, will discuss what it means to be a “woman artist” with the curator Kimberly Drew.
Harry Elam, the vice president for the arts at Stanford, said of the program in a statement, “This new discussion series offers an innovative approach to thinking about arts and artists and the critical role they play in informing our future. We are excited about the possibilities of how these conversations at Stanford can make an impact and have far-reaching reverberations.”