posted by Allison Walters — Dec 02, 2020
My name is Kelvin Parnell Jr, and I am grateful to be one of the College Art Association’s candidates for the Emerging Professional Director. Aligning myself with CAA’s mission of building a more diverse and inclusive scholarly community, I understand the Emerging Professional Director position to be critical to this goal’s progress. To do so, I want first to expand the scope of the position to include undergraduate students. As a young, Black undergraduate attending a university that did not support the humanities, especially the visual arts, I found it difficult to build community and the support needed to further my career. Although I knew about CAA, I often understood it as something that was not meant for me. Therefore, one of my top priorities will be to uplift and highlight the voices and concerns of those traditionally underrepresented in the field, whether they be students, professionals, or lifelong learners and admirers of the visual arts. I believe the future of CAA depends on ensuring that the association becomes more integrated with the careers and development of visual arts professionals at all stages of their careers. I want to establish that our organization’s value will continue to develop and progress beyond the annual conference by emphasizing how we are a vital and necessary resource to our members and those whose membership we wish to court.
As the world and visual arts continue to change, adapt, and evolve, so must CAA. Our organization’s emerging professionals are some of our most valuable resources as they will take up the mantle and lead the field into the future as so many have before them. But to do so, CAA must also be an active agent in the development of their careers to guarantee that change occurs. CAA must be an organization wherein we prepare our young scholars and professionals for today’s challenges and brainstorm solutions together with our more senior and experienced members about the problems of the future that have yet to manifest. During my tenure, I hope that I will be able to help bridge generational and professional divides amongst scholars, artists, and visual arts professionals through new, robust programming and mentorship, both formal and informal. Further, we must listen to, learn from, and reach out to communities and spaces we have not looked to typically to engender the change we seek. Our presence in the world of visual arts must be one that is welcoming and active. We should ensure that we engage with the public in meaningful ways and create the public’s desire to engage with us. To do so, we should work tirelessly to fulfill our mission and advocate the critical need for the arts’ study and practice.
I believe CAA should and can be an organization that provides various opportunities and venues for all of us in the visual arts to gather and exchange our ideas and experiences not just once a year, but throughout the year and throughout our careers and lifetimes. It seems to me that now, more than ever, that deep community building is desired and necessary.
Thank you for considering me for this honorable and privileged position.