posted by Allison Walters — Feb 03, 2021
In the past year we have experienced unprecedented changes in the social, economic, and interpersonal landscape: transformations in higher education; financial uncertainty; home-work imbalance; quarantine during a global pandemic; a divisive political climate; the US election cycle; and the Black Lives Matter and #SayHerName protests following the violent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many more. We have seen changes for us as teachers, scholars, makers, writers, and advocates for higher education and the place of academic arts discourse and development in this new world. We have seen great inequities in and serious changes to higher education that have affected faculty, staff, students, and the long-term support of art, art history, and design—as well as changes to our pedagogy, our community, and the very structure of who is cared for and how. We have suffered enormous losses and continue to mourn. These losses have had an immense impact on all of us, including underserved BIPOC communities, adjunct faculty, and arts communities unaffiliated with institutions. Significantly, this time has affected our greatest assets: connecting to, sharing with, and knowing our community.
How CAA offers service and support to our members has also changed as we work to become more inclusive, more diverse, and more equitable in the community at large. However, because so much of 2020 was spent “coping with” and “adjusting to,” we haven’t had the time to pause and reflect. We wonder what the future will look like, and as an organization, how to offer structure and support as we learn and grow together. As part of these changes we have been faced with the hard choice of what to do in the face of adversity. This community of artists, historians, and designers has risen to the moment, adapted, and supported one another. CAA has advocated for you by adapting in its greatest shift ever: to a fully online Annual Conference. Although this has sometimes felt like a pressure point, perhaps it is just a growing pain—and we will continue to show up for community more strongly and profoundly than ever before.
To ensure lasting change, we are committed to the following:
- Expanding on the Annual Conference’s virtual format, becoming ever more accessible and globally inclusive
- Expanding advocacy for underserved and BIPOC communities
- Developing and offering free and open professional resources via collegeart.org
- Increasing access to participation of our global community throughout the year
- Including diverse voices and supporting new outreach and inclusionary initiatives, especially for populations and communities that we have not engaged before: geographically, culturally, and in socioeconomic diversity
- Helping reshape the landscape of professional support via a strategic digital overhaul
- Listening to member concerns and responding with thoughtful urgency, bringing ease to transitions
CAA will continue to regularly address the changing workforce conditions in academic and cultural institutions, including for students and for the trajectory of adjunct faculty; enhance equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion initiatives in higher education, including promoting best practices in the reduction of systemic barriers, in faculty and staff hiring, in the support and recruitment of first-generation students from diverse and underrepresented groups, and in the implementation of sound consultative processes involving the affected communities; and increase public awareness and institutional recognition regarding the value and importance of humanities scholarship and visual arts and design education within the academy and beyond it.
CAA, its board, and its staff continue to stand in support of its members and our larger arts community to create, analyze, teach, and promote art within our higher educational and cultural institutions.
Written in solidarity and as affirmation of CAA’s commitment to the diversity of practices and practitioners we serve.
Art Journal Winter 2020, Blackness Issue (free online until March 31, 2021)