Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Donates Prints by Artist Shirin Neshat to Thirty-three Top Colleges and Universities for Educational Use

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Dec 17, 2015 9:23PM

From left: Shirin Neshat, Ghada, 2013, Digital pigment print, 26 x 17.5 inches, Edition of 50. © Shirin Neshat. Image courtesy Gladstone Gallery. Shirin Neshat, Sayed, 2013, Digital pigment print, 26 x 17.5 inches, Edition of 50. © Shirin Neshat. Image courtesy Gladstone Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY (December 17, 2015) —Today the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation announces a donation of a pair of limited-edition prints by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat to thirty-three leading colleges and universities around the world. The prints –Ghada and Sayed – are part of Neshat’s “Our House is on Fire” series, an exploration of Egypt after the Arab Spring, which the Foundation supported. 

“Due to the recent events in Europe and Middle East, we believe that it is more important than ever to engage in cross-cultural discussions,” said Christy MacLear, executive director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. “Neshat’s project embodies Rauschenberg’s own belief that art could change the dialogue for challenging international issues. Our goal with this donation is to encourage dialogue about the portraits’ artistic, cultural, and political value while also creating an opportunity for academic departments to collaborate with school museums and galleries.” 

Thirty-three institutions were selected by the Foundation through a competitive process. Each institution submitted a proposal for how they would incorporate the prints into their curriculum, daily life, and campus-wide events. The recipient institutions committed to utilizing the portraits to foster challenging conversations on issues ranging from gender roles and inequality, to the effects of war and cross cultural understanding. 

A few innovative ideas from the proposals include:

  • Hosting a panel discussion on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism – with respective religious Chaplains and Rabbis - inspired by Neshat’s portraits and photographer Abbas’s body of work Children of Abraham (University of Pennsylvania); 
  • Displaying the prints in the Law School and using them as case studies for human rights issues (Columbia University);
  • Hanging the prints in the dining hall and creating table tents to provide information about the prints and provoke conversation (Bowdoin College);
  • Using her prints in collaboration with Medical Departments to improve students’ visual analysis and observation skills (Tufts University and University of Virginia); and
  • Rotating the display of the portraits between six highly trafficked, non-museum locations and in art-focused, student run cafés (University of Southern California). 

The institutions receiving the prints are: American University of Beirut, Arizona State University, Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, John Hopkins University, King's Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oberlin College, Princeton University, Rhode Island School of Design, Smith College, Stanford University, Tufts University, Tulane University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Hong Kong, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis, Wesleyan University, Williams College, and Yale University. 

When asked what impact this gift will have on their institution, Simone Wicha, director of the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, said: “The donation of these two photographs by acclaimed Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat is nothing short of transformative for the Blanton. These works help signal a key part of our mission as a university art museum, underscoring the ways that artworks can play a vital role in helping prepare students and members of the community to be informed citizens of the world, and in stimulating cultural awareness and empathy.” 


About “Our House is on Fire”
In Our House Is on Fire, Neshat investigates the universal experiences of pain and mourning on both national and personal levels. Traveling to Egypt, the artist invited various people to sit before her camera and to share their stories of loss, culminating in her new portrait series. Photographing her subjects up-close and with notable directness, Neshat creates a poignant connection between subject and viewer. She then overlays the images with a nearly indecipherable veil of text, inscribing calligraphy across the folds of each face, thereby mirroring the way in which a national calamity has become embedded in the personal history of each individual. 

About the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation fosters the legacy of the life, artistic practice, and activist philosophy of one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Through exhibitions, scholarship, grants, and a residency program, the Foundation furthers Rauschenberg’s belief that art can change the world. 

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation