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Kanye West was given an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May of 2015, and more than a couple of people questioned it. But why? Why shouldn't Kanye be taken seriously in the world of art? Here's our case for Kanye as an artist.

Stay tuned for cases for other artists, past and present.

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Sarah: In May of 2015, Kanye West was given an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This news resulted in snarky responses from art writers, but why? Why wouldn't Kanye deserve to be taken seriously in the world of art?

Setting aside his music for a minute, let's consider Kanye West as an artist, not a hip-hop artist or a music-world artist, but a full-on, multi-disciplinary, newest wave, artist artist, and one whose work makes total sense in the context of art schools and museums. And let's be clear, Kanye doesn't need our validation, and that's exactly why he deserves it.

This is the case for Kanye.

Kanye Omari West was born in Atlanta, Georgia on June 8th, 1977. His mother was a professor of English and his dad a photojournalist, and after their divorce, Kanye and his mom moved to Chicago where he spent most of his childhood. From a young age, he wrote poetry, made music, and started rapping and learning how to sample and program beats. Kanye did well in school, but eventually dropped out of college to pursue music, beginning a fruitful career as a hip-hop producer, eventually making his way to Rockefeller Records. He broke through as a solo artist with the single Through The Wire and the rest, well, most of you know.

His first studio album, The College Dropout, was released in February of 2004 and on this and future work, he showcases his extraordinary ability to pull from a wide variety of sources and influences to produce music that is both hugely popular and admired by peers and critics.

Collaboration was at the core of his prior work as a producer, and he has continued to tap a wide range of talents to enhance and inflect his work from Lupe Fiasco to Rihanna to Paul McCartney. Kanye pays great attention to all areas of his work, including his album art made in concert with accomplished designers and artists, including: Takashi Murakami, KAWS, George Condo, Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci, and then Kanye's own creative collective DONDA. He has experimented in his music videos as well, enlisting directors like Spike Jones for Flashing Lights, Otis, and Only One, and bringing in filmmaker Steve McQueen to direct a short film for his song All Day I Feel Like That, that was installed last summer at the LA County Museum of Art. Kanye even directed his own 35-minute short film Runaway, with costuming by fashion designer Philip Lim and art direction by artist Vanessa Beecroft.

Kanye has worked with Beecroft on a number of occasions, including one-off performances and hiring her to create the sceneography for his 2013 Yeezus tour. Her performance-based work often involves female models positioned into living tableaux, and about Beecroft Kanye has said, "She's like my eyes, she's a piece of my brain." She also worked with him on the choreography of his fashion shows for his Yeezy clothing line, in which the models stand silently in a grid.

He's been steadfast in his quest to establish himself within the world of fashion, making progress and attracting the attention and sometimes scorn of those at its center. The minimal, neutral-hued, and military-inspired garments of his recent collection display his willingness to polarize his audiences and inject social commentary about race into fashion.

Kanye never shrinks from an opportunity to push boundaries and defy expectations, whether it's continually remaking his image and musical sound, or resisting the urge to perform his greatest hits and instead perform his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak in full for a 2015 performance at the Hollywood Bowl.

Kanye is a divisive character. He speaks publicly and often and in a stream-of-consciousness style. He courts the controversy that surrounds him. Often accused of narcissism, Kanye has big goals and isn't afraid to voice them. He makes wild pronouncements, but honest ones. He thinks the world should be a just place, and is unafraid to call out what he perceives to be injustice. Even President Obama has called him a jack-ass.

Obama: He's a jack-ass.

Sarah: But he's also not afraid to apologize. And the last time we checked, the world of art has been chock full of oversized egos since, well, ever.

But Kanye aspires to do important things and make real work that can impact people's lives. When he spoke at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago last year, he said to the students, "This honor is going to make your lives easier." He meant, of course, that getting art world access is easier when you have that kind of degree, but what he also meant was that the art world with Kanye in it is a better, more open, and less elitist art world.

An artist is someone who does things with intention, who takes stands and then rethinks them, who constantly evolves, who spurs discourse, who can synthesize talents from a wide range of disciplines, and is not a puppet who recites the talking points of their PR firm.

It's not that everything Kanye touches is art, and we're not endorsing him for president either, but when his work is placed in the context of other art, it not only checks out but encourages us to consider how so much production from disciplines other than visual art is art museum worthy. The more people from outside of art get involved in art, the better art gets. The better chance we have to keep museums interesting, boundary-pushing, and most of all, relevant, serving an actual public instead of an imagined one.

Kanye never imagines his public, it's there, and it's high time everyone get over themselves and accept it.