Carnegie Mellon University
February 08, 2017

Social Artist, Activist Appointed First MFA Director at CMU's School of Art

By Pam Wigley

Jon Rubin
Jon Rubin has been named the first master's degree program director for Carnegie Mellon University's School of Art. Image credit: Jim Judkis

Artist, educator and activist Jon Rubin has been named the first master's degree program director for Carnegie Mellon University's School of Art.

Rubin, an associate professor of art, is recognized as a leading artist in the field of social and contextual practice. Known as an artist, educator and activist, Rubin is among the first artists selected by the Guggenheim Museum to take part in a new Social Practice Art Initiative this spring.

The appointment is the first step in the School of Art's graduate initiative, which aims to establish a core faculty, increased funding and a new studio facility.

"Jon Rubin is one of the most respected artists in his field. His projects have stirred national dialogue, and his efforts have helped shape the contours of social practice in contemporary art," said Charlie White, head of the School of Art. "Having Jon enter as the director of the MFA program will be the first in a series of steps to increase faculty, facilities and funding that will further advance our intentions of providing one of the most progressive graduate programs in the country."

Rubin's major projects include "Conflict Kitchen" (2010- ), which serves food from countries in conflict with the United States, encouraging public engagement with the culture, politics and issues at stake within the highlighted regions; "The Last Billboard" (2010- ), a 36-foot-long rooftop billboard located in Pittsburgh that presents text-based statements each month by invited participants; and "The Royal Danish Protesters" (2011), a three-week performance in which actors impersonating the Danish Queen and Prince Consort walked through Copenhagen carrying signs broadcasting the opinions of any Danish citizen who approached them.

In addition to his public projects, Rubin has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Shanghai Biennial; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Rooseum, Malmö, Sweden; Sazmanab Center for Contemporary Art, Tehran; as well as in backyards, living rooms and on street corners.

CMU's School of Art, housed within one of the most respected research universities in the United States, offers an unparalleled convergence of contemporary art, technology and critical discourse. Currently ranked as the No. 6 art school in the country and No. 1 in the area of new media and time-based art by U.S. News and World Report, the school's noted alumni include Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Joyce Kozloff, Mel Bochner, Deborah Kass and John Currin.