Boston University’s College of Fine Arts recognized Brandeis Prof. Joe Wardwell (FA) as a distinguished alumnus, according to a Sept. 20 BrandeisNOW article.

One of Wardwell’s most notable projects is the mural “Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States,” which will be on display at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art until 2022. Inspired by J.G Ballard’s 1981 novel “Hello America,” Wardwell describes a dictator who named himself President Charles Manson, suggesting that the unrealistic and distant “American Dream” has been prevalent in the current political climate. The mural displays the work of his team members alongside several contemporary artists such as Laurie Anderson, Jenny Holzer and James Turrell. 

Denise Markonish ’97, a curator at the Museum of Science and a Brandeis alumna, commended Wardwell’s skill to integrate American popular culture and landscape into the portrayal  “landscape and politics,” according to the article. She thus commissioned him to create the installation at MassMoCA.

Having never previously painted on such a large scale, Wardwell acknowledged the challenge of creating the mural, mainly because it’s hard for the “enormous size of the wall” to fit the limited available space, in an interview with BrandeisNow. His crew started the project by examining the available spaces, taking photographs of the gallery and the enormous blank wall, and the project culminated in a 22-day-long installation. 

During the award ceremony, which took place on Sept. 19 at BU, Wardwell attributed his success to his time at BU, which he said played a “pivotal” role in his professional development as an artist, per the BrandeisNOW article. 

Wardwell also founded the Brandeis in Siena study abroad program, which combines studio art and art history studies in an intensive summer program in Siena, Italy.