Bayeté Ross Smith named first artist in residence


Columbia Law School has announced that Harlem-based photographer, artist and educator Bayeté Ross Smith has been named Artist in Residence for the 2021-2022 academic year. Columbia Law established this new program as a way to examine and expand how the institution honors its history and values, while celebrating its vibrant and diverse community.

During his residency, Ross Smith will engage directly with faculty and students in classes, extracurricular events and other related programs. He will showcase installations of his work on the law school campus, where he will maintain a studio and have access to Columbia’s existing art collection and the Columbia University Library Archives. Ross Smith plans to use the residency to develop his “Art of Justice” project, a series of art and media installations and corresponding programs that address contemporary social, political and human issues while strategically engaging the legal community.

“I am delighted and honored to have been chosen as Columbia Law School’s inaugural artist in residence,” said Ross Smith. “This opportunity will allow me to advance my work by using the storytelling power of the arts to engage law students, jurists and future policy makers in contemporary and historical social justice issues and human rights issues. that must be addressed in order for society to make the necessary progress we need in the next century and beyond.

Through his work, Ross Smith hopes to help shape the perspectives of law students during the formative years of their professional training.

“We are delighted to welcome Bayeté Ross Smith as our inaugural Artist in Residence,” said Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Law Professor. “Bayeté’s art examines many social, cultural and legal issues that are key elements of the law school’s mission. He pushes the limits of creativity with exceptional creativity and has a passion to challenge prejudice through education and promote social justice through artistic expression.

Ross Smith chose to focus his artistic energies on the legal community because of the vital role lawyers play in policy development and the field of criminal justice.

“My goal is to create work that forces people to question their pre-existing beliefs and ask themselves, ‘Why did I think that? “In relation to a given topic or concept,” said Ross Smith.

A native of New York City, Manhattan, Ross Smith was chosen as the first artist in residence from over 400 applicants. Applications were reviewed by the professors who lead the Columbia Law Naming and Symbols Working Group.

Kendall Thomas, professor of law at Nash and co-chair of the selection committee, believes that Ross Smith’s “Art of Justice” project will offer “a powerful aesthetic toolbox for critical inquiry and reflection on the negative impact of unconscious bias. and distorted historical accounts. in our legal system.

“Ross Smith has a keen sense of how the arts can be used to help lawyers, law students, legal educators and legal decision makers understand and address the cultural perspectives that shape our professional practice,” said Thomas. “I am excited about the contributions Ross Smith will make to the Columbia Law learning community, and look forward to working with him. “

About Bayeté Ross Smith

Bayeté Ross Smith is working on “Got the Power: Boomboxes”, a series of site-specific sculptures constructed from vintage boomboxes.

Ross Smith is a photographer, artist and education worker who lives in Harlem and works at the intersection of photography, film and video, visual journalism, 3D objects and new media. He has received numerous awards, scholarships and grants for his work, including as POV and New York Times Embedded Mediamaker, Presidential Leadership Scholar, CatchLight Leadership Fellow 2021, TED Resident, Creative Capital awarde, Art for Fellow of the Justice Fund and BPMPlus Fellow.

His interdisciplinary work includes photographs, videos, sculptures and performances. His work has been featured in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Oakland Museum of California, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Brooklyn Museum, among others. He has also exhibited internationally with the Goethe-Institut (Ghana), the Fotomuseum (Belgium), the Lianzhou Foto Festival (China) and the America House (Ukraine).

Photo of Bayeté Ross Smith by Aleph Media


Nancy I. Romero

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