Untitled wall drawing circa 1981 by Keith Haring (all images courtesy Bard College, © Keith Haring Foundation)

During a 1981 visit to Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson in upstate New York, Keith Haring took a magic marker to professor Tom Wolf’s office wall and drew five crawling babies — figures that became hallmarks of Haring’s artistic style. At an early stage in his career but quickly gaining recognition, Haring had been invited by the art history professor to give a lecture.

When Wolf’s workspace space was moved years later, Haring’s drawing went with it, a cut-out cinderblock wall that stands in Wolf’s office in the art history department to this day. Now, on the eve of Wolf’s retirement, Haring’s drawing will finally be publicly displayed. After undergoing conservation, the work will be exhibited in the college’s Center for Curatorial Studies.

In conjunction with the wall’s relocation, Bard has also announced $3.2 million in gifts that will endow its annual Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism “in perpetuity.” The eight-year-old fellowship funds a faculty position that bridges the undergraduate Human Rights Program and the graduate school’s Center for Curatorial Studies.

The Keith Haring Foundation donated $800,000 to the fellowship, and the Marieluise Hessel Foundation and billionaire George Soros also contributed to the new endowment.

Writer Haytham el-Wardany will teach and research at Bard in the spring of 2023.

Eligible fellowship recipients are scholars, activists, or artists. This year’s fellow is author Haytham el-Wardany, whose work combines poetry, storytelling, and philosophy to reflect on uprising and protest (and passivity in times of social unrest and unbridled capitalism). Much of his writing focuses on the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests of the early 2010s.

“The Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism has been an enormous source of pride for the Keith Haring Foundation for the last eight years,” said Gil Vazquez, executive director of the foundation. “It is a nod to the spirit and belief of Keith Haring that both art and activism can complement one another and bring about social and political change.”

El-Wardany will teach and conduct research at Bard during the 2023 spring semester.

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.