Kanye Dropped By The Harvard Graduate School of Design
With Kim Kardashian in tow, rapper Kanye West popped into Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to tout his experience as a designer and visual artist, and invited 300 students working in the studio to attend his Boston show at no cost.
The visit came before West’s performance at the TD Garden in front of more than 12,000 people on Sunday night, where he was promoting his latest album “Yeezus”.
West hit the stage for more than two-hours, following emcee Kendrick Lamar, in a performance that included a large-scale rock-like structure and other architectural feats broken down into five segments, which the rapper was nervous about showing off. “I’m a little self-conscious because I’m showing it to architects,” he told GSD students during his visit, showing a certain degree of vulnerability that he has rarely displayed in his media interviews.
The visit was organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union, after they wrote the artist a letter in response to a series of interviews he did referencing his growing interest in design and his experiences with race in that market. West’s entourage responded to the letter, and asked if they could stop by while in Boston. “Kanye led a very thoughtful conversation regarding the trajectory of design discourse and practice as well as the under-representation of minorities in design disciplines. Following that, he was inspired by all of the amazing things we shared about the work we have done…in a moment of inspiration, was moved to invite Harvard GSD students to attend his concert,” the group said in a statement sent to Boston.
As West spoke to student designers, Kardashian stepped to the side and took a shot of her fiancé as he bestowed advice upon those in the graduate program. “My baby speaking at the Harvard Graduate School of Design,” she said.
Before talking about his own experience in the world of designing, West announced to the crowd that he had tickets to his performance for “everyone in the office,” and would be welcoming the architecture hopefuls to his show.
He then proceeded to engage in some typical West-like behaviors, teetering on the line of self-admiration, as he often does. “I wanted to tell you guys, I really do believe the world can be saved through design and everything actually needs to be architected,” West said, referencing DONDA, his media and design company that he created in January 2012.
Pointing out that he has sat down with Oprah, and discussed “realization” and “self realization,” sometimes for two-hours at a time, West said the reason he “turns up” in so many interviews is because he’s “tasted what it means to create and be able to impact, and affect in a positive way.”
He continued, pointing out that he is aware of how controversial and abrasive he can sometimes be:
And I know that there’s more creativity to happen. And I know that there’s traditionalists that hold back the good thoughts and there’s people in offices that stop the creative people, and [who] are intimidated by actual good ideas. I believe that utopia is actually possible—but we’re led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. So in no way am I a politician—I’m usually at my best politically incorrect and very direct.
West said he felt “inspired” by the design space at Harvard, and thanked the students for letting him walk through their studio, and peek at their own designs, while in town for his show. “I really appreciate you guys’ willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation,” he said.
West’s speech, which lacked much of an inspirational edge, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the designers, but for some, his words were clouded by the fact that courtesy tickets were part of his visit to the school. “Kanye West just stopping by the GSD and [is] giving out free tickets to his concert tonight. And a bunch of stuff about how he loves design. I just heard tickets,” said Evan Farley, who took a short video of West’s talk.