Kehinde Wiley (BFA 1999) to receive Honorary degree and address graduates at SFAI’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony

Above: Kehinde Wiley. Photo: Tony Powell.


San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) is pleased to announce that alumnus Kehinde Wiley (BFA 1999), whose recent portrait of President Barack Obama for the National Portrait Gallery made international news, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree and address graduates at SFAI’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony, to be held May 13, 2018.
“Kehinde Wiley’s work reflects the core values of a San Francisco Art Institute education—exquisite technique delivering a complex human story,” says SFAI President Gordon Knox. “His paintings re-shape how we see and understand power and argue for a more inclusive vision of individual and collective potential. As a school, SFAI is proud to have played a part in the emergence of such a brilliant artist. We are delighted to now welcome him back to celebrate his successes and those of our graduating students, who leave SFAI set to make their own glorious marks on the world.”
“San Francisco Art Institute is where I honed in on my skills and identity as an artist, and I’ve carried that experience with me throughout my career,” says Wiley. “Art schools empower young people, giving a sense of art history as well as the tools to question those histories and re-envision our culture. It is a wonderful honor to return to SFAI and speak at Commencement to a new generation of emerging artists, full of potential. I hope my story and work will inspire them to claim the full capacities of their education for powerful communication and social change.”
Other recent recipients of an honorary degree from SFAI include alumnus Enrique Chagoya, Linda Nochlin, Theaster Gates, Jack Whitten, alumna Kathryn Bigelow, and Roberta Smith.

SFAI Year-End Events
The invitation-only Commencement Ceremony is part of a week-long series of events and exhibitions. We invite you to take part and enjoy these not-to-be-missed year-end celebrations:
–MFA Exhibition
–BA + MA Symposium
–MFA Film Festival
–BFA Exhibition
For more information, visit our website:

About San Francisco Art Institute
Founded in 1871, San Francisco Art Institute is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious institutions in the practice and study of contemporary art. As a diverse community of working artists and scholars, SFAI provides students with a rigorous education and preparation for a life in the arts through an immersive studio environment, an integrated liberal arts and art history curriculum, and critical engagement with the world. Committed to educating artists who will shape the future of art, culture, and society, SFAI fosters creativity and original thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary context.
SFAI offers BFA, BA, MFA, and MA degrees, a dual MA/MFA degree, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate, and a range of exhibitions, public programs, and public education courses. Notable past faculty and alumni include Lance Acord, Ansel Adams, Kathryn Bigelow, Enrique Chagoya, Angela Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Paul Kos, George Kuchar, Annie Leibovitz, Barry McGee, Manuel Neri, Catherine Opie, Peter Pau, Laura Poitras, Clyfford Still, and Kehinde Wiley.

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