Doctor of Arts, honoris causa
Sarah Sze is a contemporary artist who uses ordinary objects to create large-scale sculptures tailored to the sites in which they are installed. Her work hangs from museum ceilings, protrudes from the ground and penetrates gallery walls. She presents objects of varying color and texture in her installations as “leftovers” of human behavior; cotton swabs, tea bags and ladders have been featured in her work, which also reflects her formal interest in light, air and movement. Her work has been displayed in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries worldwide, and her intricate, handmade constructions have received praise within the art world and beyond.
In 1999, Sze won the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. She was a 2003 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a 2005 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. In 2012, she won the International Association of Art Critics Award for Best Project in a Public Space for her Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat), displayed in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood along the High Line. That same year, Sze was the United States’ Representative for the 54th Venice Biennale, an honor she won again in 2013. In 2016, a collection of her drawings on ceramic tiles will open in the 96th Street station on the new Second Avenue subway line in New York.
Sze was born in Boston and is an alumna of Milton Academy. She double-majored in architecture and painting at Yale University and graduated summa cum laude in 1991 before receiving a master of fine arts degree from New York City’s School of Visual Arts. Sze values opportunities to share her knowledge and experience with the next generation of artists and, over the past 15 years, has lectured at her alma maters and at Columbia University School of the Arts, where she is currently a professor. As a liberal arts college dedicated to inspiring young people, Amherst recognizes Sze’s practice of sharing her passion with students in the classroom and outside of it, where she is often known to engage students in the creation of her work.