Richard Serra, renowned sculpture artist famous for his immense steel pieces, will be speaking at the 219th Commencement exercises on June 1. Actor and director LeVar Burton will be the baccalaureate speaker and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz will give an invited lecture on May 31.
Serra uses rolls of sheet steel to construct the immense and beautiful sculptures he has become known for. He often requires the cooperation of specially equipped steel mills to complete his gargantuan masterpieces, as he did for Torqued Ellipses at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York.
Notable for their size and rough material, Serra’s sculptures weigh tons and are often designed so that viewers can walk through them and feel the sublimity they evoke.
He has installed sculptures in diverse locations such as Great Salt Lake, Utah and a dead-end street in the Bronx, N.Y. as well as throughout Europe.
The New York Times called Serra a “a titan of sculpture, one of the last great modernists in an age of minor talents, mad money and so much meaningless art.”
Born in 1939 in San Francisco, Serra graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1961 with a degree in English and went on to receive his M.F.A. and B.F.A. at Yale in 1964.
While in California, Serra supported himself by working at steel mills, a job which sparked his interest in industrial materials and would later influence his work.
Awards for his work include the Skowhagen Medal for Sculpture, the Wilhelm Lehmbruck prize for sculpture and many retrospectives. MoMA curators reserved a 20,000 square foot space to house the goliath masses of metal in the 2007 retrospective.
Serra lives with his wife, Clara Weyergraf-Serra in New York City and Nova Scotia, Canada.
Currently the host and series producer of Reading Rainbow, PBS’s Emmy-winning show, Burton is well known for his work as an actor and director. His performance as Kunta Kinte in the television miniseries Roots brought him critical acclaim as well as an Emmy nomination. After this initial fame, Burton appeared on a number of television programs as himself.
In 1986 Burton took on the role of Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the blind helmsman of the USS Enterprise whose sight-giving visor became his tra-