College Art Association

CAA News Today

Artistic/Academic Freedom Under Attack?

posted by admin — Feb 03, 2017

Advocacy has always been part of CAA.

Like many other Americans, we have closely watched the proposed changes to the federal government, its impact on artistic and academic freedom and have grown concerned.

Two weeks ago, I was contacted about a painting properly hanging in a student exhibition in the US Capitol. The painting by eighteen-year-old David Pulphus depicts his insightful point of view regarding circumstances in Ferguson, Missouri. Based on complaints about the painting’s contents, the US government permanently removed it from the exhibition. Grown men with guns felt threatened by a teenager armed only with a paintbrush.

The following week, I was visited by a group of college and university art educators from a variety of public and private institutions who presented shocking stories of threats to their artistic and academic freedom in the classroom. You will be hearing more about their efforts to document institutional and self-imposed censorship in academic settings. As they have said, “Harassment campaigns against targeted professors and institutions are being unleashed with increasing regularity around the country.”

Last week we learned that the newly formed government intends to take steps to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. CAA President Suzanne Preston Blier and I sent a message on this topic to the entire CAA membership last week.

These are alarming events. For the first time in decades, it appears our artistic and academic freedom is under a coordinated attack. We ask that CAA members vigilantly watch for further infringements. Take steps to reach out to your elected representatives to make your point of view known. Let them know that you are a member of CAA. Together we can work to protect our respective artistic and academic freedoms.


Hunter O’Hanian
Executive Director
Chief Executive Officer