Charles Gaines with students at CalArts in 1992
14 Oct 2020

Charles Gaines Fellowship established to support Black students

New MFA program scholarship at CalArts, where Gaines has taught for over three decades

Long-time faculty member at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and celebrated artist Charles Gaines has made a donation to establish a fellowship that will provide critical scholarship support for Black students in the MFA Art program at the Institute. This follows the recent news of philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton’s $5 million gift to CalArts to establish the Charles Gaines Faculty Chair.

Black students are currently underrepresented in MFA Art programs in the United States, including at CalArts where none of the 25 students enrolled in the 2019 program identified as Black. The Charles Gaines Fellowship, which will cover at least two-thirds of the cost of tuition for those who receive it, comes at a moment when CalArts is strengthening its overall commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and equity.

‘I have spent my whole teaching career at CalArts working—not alone but with others—on diversity and inclusion’—Charles Gaines


Charles Gaines with students at CalArts in 1992

Library of Ideas - Charles Gaines

Last year, Gaines transformed a space within Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles into a classroom, conducting a ten-part lecture series called ‘Library of Ideas’

The Institute has a legacy—largely due to Gaines’ own efforts—of helping to develop Black artists. Over the last 31 years at CalArts, Gaines has mentored many Black artists, including Mark Bradford, Rodney McMillan, Lauren Halsey and Henry Taylor. ‘I have spent my whole teaching career at CalArts working—not alone but with others—on diversity and inclusion in order to increase the presence of the minority voice in society and to help make possible access to opportunities that have been historically denied to people of color and that most Americans take for granted,’ says Gaines.

Building on Gaines’s philanthropic deed, CalArts is now fundraising to endow the Fellowship to ensure it can provide support for generations of future underrepresented artists. ‘CalArts has made a substantial and wide-ranging commitment to racial equity, but there is still so much more work to do,’ says CalArts President Ravi S. Rajan. ‘Charles already had a legacy as an important catalyst for change—not just at CalArts, but in the broader community of artists as a whole. His leadership-by-example inspires us to press harder and fight onward to eliminate barriers to access that exist within MFA Art programs.’

Learn more about the Charles Gaines Fellowship at CalArts.

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