Mike Kelley, pictured at right in black, taught in the Graduate Fine Art department at ArtCenter College of Design from 1986 until 2006.
Mike Kelley, pictured at right in black, taught in the Graduate Fine Art department at ArtCenter College of Design from 1986 until 2006.

ArtCenter College of Design Establishes the Mike Kelley Endowed Scholarship for Students Pursuing an MFA Degree in Fine Art

Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts is excited to share the announcement that ArtCenter College of Design has established the Mike Kelley Endowed Scholarship, which will greatly increase access for the next generation of artists to the College’s world-class Graduate Art program. Among the most prestigious scholarships offered to ArtCenter students in any discipline, the Mike Kelley Endowed Scholarship will provide generous financial support to an MFA student through to their graduation. Because the scholarship is supported by an endowed fund, it will honor, in perpetuity, the indelible mark that Mike Kelley made in the lives of scores of artists as they prepared to launch their own creative practices.

A true labor of love, the Mike Kelley Endowed Scholarship owes its existence to an extraordinary coalition of donors who each understand the critical importance of providing financial aid to art students while also ensuring that Kelley– one of the most acclaimed artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries– is also recognized and celebrated for his parallel career as a life-changing teacher.

The scholarship was spearheaded by the Graduate Art department’s Free Grad Art initiative, which seeks to minimize the indebtedness of its MFA graduates by fundraising to establish endowed scholarships. The initiative’s inaugural effort was Artists for ArtCenter, an auction of works donated by ArtCenter alumni and faculty members– including Aaron Curry, Stan Douglas, Nathan Hylden, Sharon Lockhart, Ivan Morley, Shahryar Nashat, Joshua Nathanson, Laura Owens, Sterling Ruby and Diana Thater– whose lives and careers were touched by Kelley. Hosted by David Zwirner gallery, Artists for ArtCenter raised $660,000, which provided the seed funding for the Mike Kelley Endowed Scholarship.

Inspired and moved by these artists’ exceptional generosity, The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts (established by the artist during his lifetime), stepped forward with a $100,000 grant– and an unprecedented pledge to match additional contributions to bring the endowed fund’s value to the milestone level of $1 million.

The visionary generosity of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Artists for ArtCenter donors and other Grad Art faculty members, the College’s Trustees, and Kelley’s friends and admirers who have contributed to his scholarship fund has already had a major impact on a Grad Art student’s life. "I am very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected as the first recipient of the Mike Kelley Endowed Scholarship," says Omar Ceballos, who will graduate with a master's in Fine Art in spring 2024. "This scholarship will help me find my path as a Chicano artist."

Ceballos, a first-generation Mexican-American, is a painter and sculptor, whose work also extends into printmaking and textiles. "My art allows me to explore cultural narratives, content, symbolic and ethnic pluralism," he says. "I do my art practice in a way that reclaims my cultural heritage through materials — mi cultura."

Read the full press release here.