First presented in 1996, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston's (SMFA), Medal Award has been granted to some of the most
noteworthy artists and influential art patrons of our time in recognition
of their commitment to and influence on the art world. This year, SMFA is
proud to honor artist and alumna Lalla Essaydi.
art, which often combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the
female body, addresses the complex reality of Arab female identity from the
unique perspective of personal experience. In much of her work, she returns
to her Moroccan girlhood, looking back on it as an adult woman caught
somewhere between past and present, and as an artist, exploring the
language in which to "speak" from this uncertain space. She has worked in
numerous media, including painting, video, film, installation and analog
"Lalla's deeply personal body of work challenges us
to rethink our experience of identity, inequality, and political
divisions," says Chris Bratton, SMFA President. "As an artist who gives us
a true sense of a new and unfolding world, it's very fitting that we honor
her with this year's Award."
Essaydi grew up in Morocco. She
received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1999, Studio Diploma in 2000 from
SMFA and Master of Fine Arts in 2003 from SMFA's joint program with Tufts
University. Essaydi is represented by Schneider Gallery in Chicago, by
Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston, and by Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York.
Her work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and internationally and is
represented in a number of collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston; Williams College Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the
Fries Museum; the Kodak Museum of Art; and the Louvre. Upcoming exhibitions
include the Sharjah Calligraphy Biennial (United Arab Emirates), April
1–June 1, 2012; Lalla Essaydi: Revisions, A
Retrospective at the Smithsonian African Museum of Art (Washington
DC), April 4–November, 2012; and Les Femmes du Magreb at the
Orientalist Museum (Qatar), March–June 2013.
longtime arts advocates Barbara and Jonathan Lee, the 17th annual gala
event includes cocktails, dinner, award presentation, and a silent auction
of student work. Proceeds from the event benefit scholarships and
additional educational opportunities essential for SMFA students' paths to
success. The Medal Award, endowed through the generosity of Carol and
Arnold Haynes, has been awarded to Alex Katz, Kiki Smith, Claes Oldenburg
and Coosje van Bruggen, Ellen Gallagher, and Robert Rauschenberg, among
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.smfa.edu/medal
or call 617 369 3591.
About the School of the Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston:
Founded in 1876 and accredited by the National
Association of Schools of Art and Design, the School of the Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston (SMFA), is one of only three art schools in the country
affiliated with a major museum—the Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston. Our mission is to provide an education in the fine
arts—for undergraduate and graduate artists—that is
interdisciplinary and self-directed. This education values cultural,
artistic, and intellectual diversity; it embraces a wide range of media; it
stresses the development of individual vision and its relation to culture
in general; it values equally the knowledge gained by thinking and doing;
it is deeply engaged with the world as a whole. If the mission is constant,
its practice is always transforming. For more information about our
programs and partnerships, visit www.smfa.edu.
Lalla Essaydi, Harem #2, 2009.
Chromogenic print. 48 x 60 inches.
Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, NY
and Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston.