posted by Christopher Howard
The College Art Association (CAA), the largest professional group for artists and art historians in the United States, strongly condemns and expresses its grave concern about the recent presidential executive order aimed at limiting the movement of members of CAA and the broader community of arts professionals who fall under the selective set of criteria for national status or ethnic affiliation.
CAA has counted international scholars and artists among its members for many years. Committed to the common purpose of understanding the visual arts in all its forms, professionals throughout the world have enriched CAA’s community by adding diverse perspectives to the study, making, and teaching of art. With funding in recent years from the Getty Foundation to support travel and programs for scholars and curators from Africa, Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe, and Asia, the association now includes members from seventy countries. More than ten percent of our individual members are international. CAA has counted international scholars and artists among its members since the earliest years of its existence. The roots of CAA’s present-day international program stemmed from a desire to assist European refugees in the 1930s to support personal safety as well as academic and artistic freedom. During that decade, CAA had a “foreign membership” category; as art historians fled Hitler’s Europe, CAA ran a lecture bureau for refugee scholars that created speaking engagements for them at institutions throughout the United States.
The recently announced ban on travel to the United States for residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries not only goes against the inclusive, secular underpinnings of American democracy, it stifles the open access to scholarship and art upon which our work is founded. The executive order goes against our professional and scholarly commitment to diversity, the global exchange of ideas, and the respect for difference. The contribution of immigrants, foreign nationals, and people of all cultural backgrounds greatly strengthens our intellectual and creative world. Further, we believe the executive order law challenges the values at the heart of the US Constitution’s protections on speech and association as well as our national commitment to democratic process for all.
Turning our backs on refugees and closing our borders selectively stifles creative and intellectual work in addition to its very real impact on peoples’ daily lives. We call on our public officials to thwart this attempt to seemingly preserve our own safety at the expense of those who are vulnerable and who also contribute so much.
Without question, CAA welcomes all members and non-members to our upcoming Annual Conference to discuss and debate what constitutes a thriving artistic and intellectual society. Such openness is essential to our mission. We are committed through dialogue and action to help any CAA members who are affected by this policy. To this end, the association and the Board of Directors will continue to monitor and respond to policies related to this order as well as pressure for its immediate repeal.
Suzanne Preston Blier
Chief Executive Officer