No question about it, Kanye West loves to express his opinion about things in many ways. Even as he was about to receive an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute on Monday, the entertainer and fashion mogul made a move to make the podium where he was about to speak a lot more presentable — at least to his visual sensibility.
But hey! This was a graduation ceremony for a bunch of folks who will dedicate their lives to the visual arts — right?
Here’s the thing: West reached down and gathered up a number of plastic water bottles on the see-through podium’s shelf and carried them off to the side of the stage.
As the audience in the Auditorium Theatre laughed, West quipped, “I’m sorry. That was just my opinion,” clearly indicating he thought the podium looked pretty tacky with those bottles sitting there.
The music megastar then used the “sorry” theme to launch into his brief but rambling remarks to the 2015 commencement ceremony attendees.
“I am a pop artist. So my medium is public opinion and the world is my canvas,” said West. ” ‘I’m sorry’ is something you can use a lot. It allows you to give your opinion, apologize for it, and then give your opinion again.
“People say, ‘You shouldn’t be sorry for your opinions,’ ” West added, before trailing off and shrugging without further explanation.
Another non-sequitur immediately followed:
“George Bush has some very cool self-portraits. I didn’t know he was an artist,” said West, again trailing off.
Looking out over the audience, the usually uber-confident artist said, “I felt my nerves a bit, and I don’t feel that feeling a lot. The nerves of humility of being honored. A humanization, a reality of being recognized. And all I thought as I sat here shaking a little bit was — I need to get rid of that feeling.
“I need to not be nervous.”
The entertainer then told the crowd of graduates and their families and friends, “This honor is going to make your lives easier for two reasons. You don’t have to defend me as much. And, I’m going to make all of our lives easier.
“And it’s these Floyd Mayweather belts are needed to prove what I’ve been saying my entire life. Whether there’s the cosign of Paul McCartney grabbing me and saying, ‘It’s OK, he doesn’t bite white people.’ Or the New York Times cover [featuring West]. Or the Time [magazine] Most Influential [People] cover. And now a doctorate at the Art Institute of Chicago.”
West ended by saying, “When I was giving a lecture at Oxford, I brought up this school, because when I went on that mission to create in other spaces — apparel, film, performance — it would have easier if I could have said I had a degree at the Art Institute of Chicago.”
West grew up in Chicago and left Chicago State University at age 20, without getting an undergraduate degree, to pursue his music career. Though the degree honorary, he now can be called “Dr. West.”