Ken Lum Appointed to Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professorship
September 5, 2019
Ken Lum has just finished writing his first screenplay.
It’s called “The Cook,” and the story, set in the 1870s, centers around a hauling and livery company that transports mining equipment and Chinese laborers from Astoria, Oregon, to the gold fields of Pierce, Idaho. Lum, who is professor and chair of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, says the story was partly inspired by an art and planning seminar he used to teach at Penn, called The Chinese Body and Spatial Consumption in Chinatown, which was so popular with students that he had to turn them away dozens at a time. This fall, Lum, who has exhibited painting, sculpture, and photography work around the world, is also publishing two books—a collection of previous writings and a book focused on Monument Lab, the public art and history project he leads along with Fine Arts Lecturer Paul Farber. And he has just been appointed as the Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor, a new endowed professorship supported by two current members and one former member of the Weitzman School’s Board of Overseers.
Since becoming Chair of Fine Arts, Lum says, he’s tried to align the department with the strengths of the University and of the School, and to help students develop a broad definition of artistic practice.
“Contemporary art isn’t just something that should be limited to the gallery system or the so-called art world, with a propensity toward commerce,” Lum says. “It’s about the production of signification and finding one’s place in the world, and it’s about the kind of theory of one’s life — one’s siting within the world.”