College Art Association

CAA News Today

CAA recently corresponded with Marc Handelman, an artist and assistant professor of visual arts for the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, about a new grassroots organization concerned with advocacy issues, called the Art Professors of America.

When and why did the Art Professors of America form? What are its goals?

A couple of dozen art professors from several schools in the Northeast came together in the wake of the election initially to discuss how we might respond to a right-wing campaign to blacklist liberal and progressive faculty by smearing them as un-American. Simultaneously, many of us were seeing a troubling uptick both of threats and attacks on Latino, Muslim, and LGBTQ students, and of anti-Semitism on campuses. Some of us were also experiencing increased feelings of anxiety and self-censorship. Most of all, we felt the urgency and need of being together and sharing our experiences as artists and educators and citizens. We decided to meet every two weeks in New York and continue the conversation. Because colleagues from around the country reached out to be part of the dialogue, we started an email group that now represents professors in well over a dozen states. We are currently working on expanding this network to all fifty states, welcoming art professors of all ranks and teaching status, including TAs and those between positions. Our primary goal right now is to be a platform that connects people nationally and shares critical information. Our latest project was the launch of our website that features news related to education in our political climate and a critical resource page.

What is the purpose of the advocacy resource APA is building?

There are many potential and actual threats that faculty are facing increasingly. Some of these issues begin at the state level, where funding for classes or entire programs are being cut due to their political content. Other issues range from online harassment to deceptively progressive legislation for free-speech protection on campus. Meanwhile, higher education in general continues to foster crippling student debt as institutions struggle to deal with increasing demands for greater diversity, inclusion, and equity. The resource page we launched and continue to build on modestly attempts to provide critical information and tools to help us deal with some of these problems, from distributing information about student loans for undocumented students to debt models in art education. Other items provide online security protocol and consent laws for recording in classrooms. Some of the categories include Censorship and Intimidation, Critical Pedagogy, Alternative Art Programs, Debt and Precarity, Sanctuary and Immigration, and Legal Resources, among others.

Where do the resources come from?

Nearly all of the content already exists online in some form, from other organizations and studies. Populating the website was an extensive three-month process of collecting information and links and aggregating them in these categories. We have been so grateful to other working groups and colleagues for sharing their resources as well.

What are the most urgent issues confronting art professors in the United States today?

Clearly we don’t assume to speak for every program. But in the immediate context, the travel ban and ICE deportations may have the most immediate effects on our students, faculty, and visiting artists. Academic freedom has been under various levels of threat for a long time, and it remains to be seen how deeply and broadly new threats develop. But economic precarity and inequality remain the most pressing structural issue in education both for art schools and the larger university system. This affects part-time adjuncts who, already underpaid, are increasingly asked to do things such as decrease their course loads so as not to trigger contingent benefits, the end of tenured lines, and students who suffer under crippling debt or have no access to higher education at all. Critical and progressive curricula can’t make up for the undergirded issues of access, which are directly tied to geography, race, and class.

Under this current political regime, arts faculty may actually have a greater deal of security than professors and departments researching and teaching social justice, antiracism, and climate change. We need to continually find ways to support our colleagues in other fields.

How can CAA members get involved?

We welcome new arts-affiliated adjuncts, TAs, and professors into our organization and dialogue—the more voices represented, the better. Members will have access to group documents and files, as well as The Story Collection Project, which shares and archives testimonials and stories about what is happening in different corners of our campuses and in classrooms across the country. Meanwhile, the Art Profs America website, offering news, links, and resources, is live and available to anyone online. Please feel free to share with other colleagues as well. You can visit us, or join at http://artprofsamerica.com.

To request to join the discussion, please visit https://groups.google.com/d/forum/art-profs-america. You may also follow APA on Twitter.

Filed under: Advocacy, Higher Education, Teaching
promotionalphotoforraampGuy Laramée, The Grand Library, 2004. Altered book, pigment, metal stand, 96 x 21 x 44 inches. Courtesy of the artist and JHB Gallery. Courtesy of University of Richmond Museums, Virginia. Photo: Gordon Schmidt/University of Richmond Communications.

The College Art Association (CAA) announces the launch of RAAMP (Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals), an online repository and forum that collects, stores, and shares resources to promote scholarship, advocacy, and discussion related to the role of academic art museums and their contribution to the educational mission of their parent institutions. RAAMP aims to strengthen the educational mission of academic museums and their parent organizations, and is oriented toward colleagues at academic art museums as well as university and other museum colleagues. RAAMP is a project of CAA made possible with a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The principal investigators for RAAMP are N. Elizabeth Schlatter, deputy director and curator of exhibitions at the University of Richmond Museums in Virginia and an officer of CAA’s Board of Directors; and Celka Straughn, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Academic Programs at the University of Kansas’s Spencer Museum of Art and a member of CAA’s Museum Committee. Schlatter says, “Art museums at colleges and universities today are creating some of the most dynamic connections to their academic communities. RAAMP creates a virtual place to share these accomplishments and gain inspiration from colleagues. Academic museums can use examples created by their peers and posted on RAAMP to enhance their offerings to faculty and students.”

Straughn adds, “They can find curricular materials utilizing museum resources to emphasize critical thinking skills or sample reports that demonstrate and quantify how a campus museum contributes to its parent institution. RAAMP is also a place to promote professional development activities, to find research related to academic museums, and to engage in discussions with fellow professionals.”

RAAMP was created in response to a 2013 CAA Annual Conference session organized by the organization’s Museum Committee. Attendees at the session expressed a need to have a digital space where they could easily share information and strategies for communicating how their academic museums contribute to the educational mission of their parent institutions. The conversation evolved alongside the development of CAA’s own digital discussion platform, CAA Connect, which launched in September 2016.

RAAMP would not be possible without the help of its partner organizations: Association of American Museum Curators (AAMC), Association of American Museum Director (AAMD), and Association of Academic Museums & Galleries (AAMG), and representatives from the following US-based academic museum stakeholders:

The Art Galleries at Lafayette College, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, The Fowler Museum at the UCLA, Galleries of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; The Hood Museum at Dartmouth University, Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, Neuberger Museum at SUNY Purchase College, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, Schnitzer Museum at the University of Oregon, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, Spelman College Museum of Art, Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, University of Iowa Museum of Art, University of Richmond Museums

Visit the RAAMP website to learn more.

Visit the RAAMP submissions page to submit materials.

CAA Local College Tour

posted by September 30, 2016

Students are crucial to CAA and the work we do. Support and interest from student members allows us to provide fellowships, professional development, mentorships, and job placement services to those very same students. In the coming months, CAA is visiting several local New York colleges and universities in order to connect with our youngest and one of our most vital constituencies. Below is our upcoming schedule. We hope to see you there.

Monday Oct. 10, 10AM-12PM at Parsons Fine Arts 

Tuesday Nov. 1st at Pratt Institute (Time TBD)

Wednesday Nov. 2nd at Pratt Institute (Time TBD) 

Friday Nov. 18th, 12PM-4PM at School of Visual Arts

CAA has signed onto the letter reprinted below, written by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) on July 21, 2016, and signed by dozens of organizations. To read the full list of signatories, please visit the MESA website.

Threats to Academic Freedom and Higher Education in Turkey

The above listed organizations collectively note with profound concern the apparent moves to dismantle much of the structure of Turkish higher education through purges, restrictions, and assertions of central control, a process begun earlier this year and accelerating now with alarming speed.

As scholarly associations, we are committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The recent moves in Turkey herald a massive and virtually unprecedented assault on those principles. One of the Middle East region’s leading systems of higher education is under severe threat as a result, as are the careers and livelihoods of many of its faculty members and academic administrators.

Our concern about the situation in Turkish universities has been mounting over the past year, as Turkish authorities have moved to retaliate against academics for expressing their political views—some merely signing an “Academics for Peace” petition criticizing human rights violations.

Yet the threat to academic freedom and higher education has recently worsened in a dramatic fashion. In the aftermath of the failed coup attempt of July 15–16, 2016, the Turkish government has moved to purge government officials in the Ministry of Education and has called for the resignation of all university deans across the country’s public and private universities. As of this writing, it appears that more than 15,000 employees at the education ministry have been fired and nearly 1,600 deans—1,176 from public universities and 401 from private universities—have been asked to resign. In addition, 21,000 private school teachers have had their teaching licenses cancelled. Further, reports suggest that travel restrictions have been imposed on academics at public universities and that Turkish academics abroad were required to return to Turkey. The scale of the travel restrictions, suspensions, and imposed resignations in the education sector seemingly go much farther than the targeting of individuals who might have had any connection to the attempted coup.

The crackdown on the education sector creates the appearance of a purge of those deemed inadequately loyal to the current government. Moreover, the removal of all of the deans across the country represents a direct assault on the institutional autonomy of Turkey’s universities. The replacement of every university’s administration simultaneously by the executive-controlled Higher Education Council would give the government direct administrative control of all Turkish universities. Such concentration and centralization of power over all universities is clearly inimical to academic freedom. Moreover, the government’s existing record of requiring university administrators’ to undertake sweeping disciplinary actions against perceived opponents—as was the case against the Academics for Peace petition signatories—lends credence to fears that the change in university administrations will be the first step in an even broader purge against academics in Turkey.

Earlier this year, it was already clear that the Turkish government, in a matter of months, had amassed a staggering record of violations of academic freedom and freedom of expression. The aftermath of the attempted coup may have accelerated those attacks on academic freedom in even more alarming ways.

As scholarly organizations, we collectively call for respect for academic freedom—including freedom of expression, opinion, association, and travel—and the autonomy of universities in Turkey, offer our support to our Turkish colleagues, second the Middle East Studies Association’s “call for action” of January 15, request that Turkey’s diplomatic interlocutors (both states and international organizations) advocate vigorously for the rights of Turkish scholars and the autonomy of Turkish universities, suggest other scholarly organizations speak forcefully about the threat to the Turkish academy, and alert academic institutions throughout the world that Turkish colleagues are likely to need moral and substantive support in the days ahead.

Note

Organizations wishing to be included as signatories on the above statement should contact Amy Newhall at amy@mesana.org.