(American, b. 1950)
Jenny Holzer (EX’74, 1950-) is a pioneer in using public art as social intervention and one of the most important artist alumni in the history of the University of Chicago. For more than 40 years, she has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Her medium, whether formulated as a T-shirt, a plaque, or an LED sign, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work. Starting in the 1970s with the New York City posters and continuing through her recent light projections on landscape and architecture, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and courage. Holzer received the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale (1990), the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (1996), the French government’s Diploma of Chevalier (2000), and the U.S. State Department’s International Medal of Arts (2017). Prior to receiving her BFA (Ohio University) and MFA (RISD), Holzer in the early 1970s studied for two years in the College at the University of Chicago. In the wake of awarding her the Rosenberger Medal in 2019, the University commissioned Holzer’s artwork YOU BE MY ALLY (2020), which centered on the artist’s first augmented reality app and virtually projected quotations from the College Core Curriculum onto University buildings. Holzer holds honorary degrees from Williams College, the Rhode Island School of Design, The New School, and Smith College. She lives and works in New York.