Ross Bleckner received his Bachelor of Arts degree from NYU and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia California. He is well-known for his large-scale paintings in the art world and his works have been shown in esteemed public collections throughout the world, including MoMA, MoCA, Astrup Fearnley, Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Mr. Bleckner is also recognized as the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
In addition to Mr. Bleckner's works, he has taught at many of the nation's most prestigious universities. Additionally, he is president of Community Research Initiative on AIDS (CRIA), a non-profit community-based AIDS research and treatment education center.
Question: What is a UN Goodwill Ambassador?
Bleckner: I am getting appointed an Ambassador of Goodwill at the United Nations because I just finished being part of a program that was basically a pilot program that I went on a mission with the UN Office of Crime and Drugs in child trafficking and the International Criminal Court Victims Trust Fund. And what they were trying to do was essentially go to Northern Uganda and re-socialize and have the story be told through art making to see if that was a viable way of telling the story of children who had been formally abducted soldiers, boys and girls who had been formally abducted into sexual slavery, essentially, for a rebel army called The Lord’s Liberation Front. That’s, now, roving around Northern Uganda and the Southern Sudan and kidnapping children. So I went… They asked me as the first artist to go, the Under-Secretary-General, and start a program at a refugee camp, a very large, internally displaced person camp, an IDP it’s called, where people from Uganda actually live in this refugee camp that they could keep them under guard essentially so that the kids don’t get kidnapped. So I was just there, I just got back. That was 2 weeks. And I basically painted with the kids. And there’s going to be an exhibition at the United Nations, May, of all the work. And it’s going to be for sale and the money will go to help them reconstruct their lives and essentially send them back to school. So that’s a program that they want to get going around Africa.