The Artist Charles Gaines Creates a Fellowship for Black Students

The Artist Charles Gaines Creates a Fellowship for Black Students

In another effort to address the lack of diversity in the country’s art institutions, the artist Charles Gaines has established a fellowship to support Black students in the renowned M.F.A. program in art at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he has been a longtime member of the faculty.

“I have spent my whole teaching career at CalArts working—not alone but with others—on diversity and inclusion in order to increase the presence of the minority voice in society,” Mr. Gaines said in a statement. He added that he wanted “to help make possible access to opportunities that have been historically denied to people of color and that most Americans take for granted.”

The fellowship, which bears his name, will cover at least two-thirds of the cost of its recipients’ tuition. Mr. Gaines’s initial donation — the amount of which was not disclosed — was matched by Jill Kraus, a trustee, and the gallerist David Kordansky, who is an alumnus.

Black students are strikingly underrepresented in the country’s M.F.A. art programs, including CalArts, where not one of the 25 students enrolled in fall 2019 identified as Black.

In his 31 years at the school, Mr. Gaines has mentored many Black artists, including Mark Bradford, Rodney McMillian, Lauren Halsey and Henry Taylor.

The Institute is planning to raise funds to endow the Charles Gaines Fellowship and enable it to provide support for future generations.

“CalArts has made a substantial and wide-ranging commitment to racial equity, but there is still so much more work to do,” Ravi S. Rajan, the CalArts president, said in a statement, adding that Mr. Gaines’s “leadership-by-example inspires us to press harder and fight onward to eliminate barriers to access.”

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