CAA

CAA News Today

CAA is the principal national and international voice of the academic and professional community in the visual arts; the organization was founded on the principle of advocating the visual arts and actively continues that engagement today (see The Eye, The Hand, The Mind: 100 Years of the College Art Association, edited by Susan Ball). The principal goal of CAA advocacy is to address issues of critical importance in the visual arts that benefit artists, art historians, and museum workers and to inform the public.

CAA specifically advocates change and improvements in these areas:

  • Government funding for the arts and humanities
  • Freedom of expression and against censorship
  • Intellectual-property rights
  • Preservation of the artistic integrity of public spaces
  • Higher education and technologies to facilitate distance learning
  • Philanthropy for the arts and humanities
  • Tax policy as it applies to CAA members
  • Conditions in universities, museums, and other workplace environments of CAA members

CAA cosponsors and regularly sends representatives to the annual Arts, Humanities, and Museum Advocacy Days in Washington, DC. Email petitions are requested of CAA members throughout the year when legislation is being considered in Congress related to specific issues. This year’s advocacy message to Capitol Hill focused on maintaining the funding levels of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Recent issues related to freedom of expression and censorship on which CAA has taken a public position include:

  • Incarceration of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei
  • Removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video from the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery
  • Proposed removal of the John T. Biggers mural at Texas Southern University
  • Removal of the Department of Labor mural in Augusta, Maine
  • Adrian Piper’s placement on the Transportation Security Administration Watch List
  • Supreme Court amicus brief in support of petition for review regarding artists whose vehicular artwork was removed by the City of San Marcos, Texas
  • Supreme Court amicus brief asserting the unconstitutionality of a federal law criminalizing the depiction of animal cruelty in United States v. Stevens

In addition, CAA has been involved in intellectual-property rights, as described below.

Orphan Works

CAA participated actively in US Copyright Office proceedings to study orphan works and, thereafter, actively supported legislation—yet to be passed by Congress—that would require users to conduct work-by-work, due-diligence searches to identify and find the copyright holder. If that search failed to identify or find the copyright holder, the work could be used without the threat of injunctive relief or statutory damages. If the copyright holder emerges after the work has been researched and used, he or she could still sue the user for copyright infringement, but a losing defendant would only be required to pay the normal license fee; the proposed legislation includes a safe harbor for museums that removed works expeditiously. It is unclear if any orphan-works legislation will be reintroduced in this or subsequent Congresses. After the March 2011 decision of Judge Denny Chin of the US Court of Appeals Second Circuit rejecting the settlement of the Google Books litigation, CAA’s counsel was approached by Public Knowledge (“a D.C. public interest group working to defend citizen’s rights in the emerging digital culture”) asking if CAA remained interested in orphan-works legislation and, if so, to sign a letter to Congress requesting that orphan-works legislation be reintroduced.

Cost for Reproducing Images of Artwork in Museum Collections

In recent member surveys, one of the most critical issues articulated was the high cost of reproduction rights of works in museum collections that are not under copyright. CAA has requested formal attention to this issue from the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Fair Use

CAA’s Committee on Intellectual Property, chaired by Doralyn Pines and Christine Sundt, is reviewing and proposing revisions to the Intellectual Property in the Arts section of the CAA website. The committee will also review a draft set of fair-use guidelines being prepared by the Art Law Committee of the New York Bar Association and the Visual Resources Association; after such review, the CAA Board of Directors may be asked to endorse the updated guidelines.

Extension of Copyright Term

CAA signed a Supreme Court amicus brief regarding the retroactive application of the extension of copyright term in Eldred v. Ashcroft. The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was challenged with the original complaint filed on January 11, 1999. CAA was an amicus when the case was brought to the Supreme Court, which held on January 15, 2003, that the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was constitutional (see the March 2003 CAA News).

Artist-Museum Partnership Act

CAA actively supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which establishes fair-market-value tax deductions for works given by artists instead of the current limitation to cost of materials. Information on the progress of the Artist-Museum Partnership Act is published in the weekly CAA News email, posted in the Advocacy section of the website, and communicated to the Services to Artists Committee. If and when a bill is subject to a vote in Congress, CAA will urge all members, affiliated societies, and committees to contact their representatives.

Coalition on the Academic Workforce

CAA is a member of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, which recently prepared a survey of contingent faculty. Over 30,000 individuals completed the questionnaire—many were CAA members—and the results will be tabulated this spring. Information on all aspect of working conditions is included in this survey and will assist in informing future standards and practices. CAA’s Professional Practices Committee and Education Committee are kept informed of the survey and its tabulation and will analyze the results and determine action to take that will benefit CAA members. Contingent faculty is currently responsible for 76 percent of teachers in American colleges and universities. CAA supports equitable hiring, representation, and benefits for this growing segment of the faculty.

How It Works

How does advocacy work at CAA? CAA both monitors advocacy issues and is approached by universities, colleges, organizations, and individuals who raise issues via CAA’s counsel, officers and members of the board, executive director, deputy director, affiliated societies, or other partner organizations such as the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Association of Art Museum Directors, or the associations of the American Council of Learned Societies. If an issue warrants action and is consistent with the advocacy policy, CAA will prepare a response. Depending on the importance and complexity of the issue, CAA will prepare an email, letter of support, or statement; cosign a letter with other organizations; or, in exceptional circumstances when legal action is required, prepare an amicus brief or support proposed legislation. All advocacy issues brought to CAA’s attention are reviewed by the counsel and the executive director. Consistent with the organization’s Advocacy Policy, the Executive Committee and, if necessary, partner organizations also review the issues. Important matters where legal action is involved will be brought to the board.

At the February 2011 board meeting, Andrea Kirsh, then vice president for external affairs, volunteered to work as CAA’s advocacy coordinator. She has since actively assisted in carrying out research and drafting letters and statements. CAA members who would like to be informed of the organization’s advocacy efforts—and spread the word—can send an email to nyoffice@collegeart.org.

Svetlana Mintcheva, director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship, reports on a recent meeting about the Hide/Seek controversy that was held at Rutgers University earlier this month. The first two paragraphs are below; you may also read the full article.

Hide/Seek: Museums, Ethics, and the Press

Hide/Seek may be remembered as the censorship controversy that launched a hundred discussion panels. There were public statements and street protests, of course, letters to the Smithsonian Board of Regents and articles in the press, but most of all, there were the conferences. Starting with a gathering at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, DC, spreading to the West Coast, and featuring major public events at the Corcoran and the New Museum, these discussions responded to an apparently endless desire to analyze and assign blame, to blow off steam and extract lessons, and to place what happened within the history of Culture Wars in America.

An April 9 symposium, “Hide/Seek: Museum, Ethics, and the Press,” organized by the Institute of Museum Ethics at Seton Hall University and the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School, had the goal of framing the issues surrounding the Hide/Seek controversy as ethical ones. Daniel Okrent, former chairman of the National Portrait Gallery, opened the event by posing several key questions: Is choosing to do a controversial show an ethical decision? Should a show ever be changed after opening? What happens after a controversy in terms of institutional definition and future planning? A diverse group of participants from such disciplines as art history, law, political science, and philosophy, as well as Smithsonian representatives and one journalist, attempted to grapple with these issues and more.

Read the full article in the Features section.

The Institute of Museum Ethics at Seton Hall and the Institute of Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School will hold “Hide/Seek: Museums, Ethics, and the Press,” a public conversation about current ethical challenges in the field, on Saturday, April 9, 2011. Registration begins at 9:30 AM, and the conference takes place 10:00 AM–4:00 PM. Lunch will be served.

Participants will examine the controversy surrounding the recent National Portrait Gallery exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, highlighting the ethical issues involved, discussing the role of print and electronic media and other instances where museums’ ethical practices are interrogated, and exploring related issues such as artists’ rights.

Rutgers University in Newark is the host: 190 University Ave, Newark, NJ. Registration is free, but space is limited. Visit the conference website for more details and to register.

The newly created Modern Art Iraq Archive (MAIA) is part of a long-term effort to document and preserve the modern artistic works from the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, most of which were lost and damaged in the fires and looting during the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003. As the site shows, little is known about many works, including their current whereabouts and their original location in the museum. The lack of documents about modern Iraqi art prompted the growth of the project to include supporting text. The site makes the works of art available as an open-access database in order to raise public awareness of the many lost works and to encourage interested individuals help document the museum’s original and/or lost holdings.

The MAIA site is the culmination of seven years of work by its project director, Nada Shabout, professor of art history and director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute at the University of North Texas in Denton. Since 2003, Shabout has been collecting information on the lost works through intensive research, interviews with artists, museum personnel, and art-gallery owners. Shabout received two fellowships from the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, in 2006 and 2007, to conduct the first phase of data collection. In 2009, she teamed with colleagues at the Alexandria Archive Institute, a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to opening global cultural heritage for research, education, and creative works. The team won a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a comprehensive archive of works once housed in museum’s galleries. These significant national treasures are displayed in an format that invites worldwide use, including the Iraqi national and expatriate communities. Users are encouraged to help identify and further document individual pieces.

MAIA aims to map the development of modern art in Iraq during the twentieth century and be a research tool to scholars, students, authorities, and the general public. It also strives to raise awareness of the rich modern heritage of Iraq. Furthermore, the creation of an authoritative, public inventory of the collection will not only act as a reminder of its cultural value and thus hopefully hasten its return, but it will also help combat smuggling and black-market dealings of the works.

In response to the possible sale of Jackson Pollock’s Mural (1943) by the University of Iowa and the state legislature, Barbara Nesin, president of the CAA Board of Directors, and Linda Downs, executive director, sent the following letter to editor of the Des Moines Register. While the newspaper did not publish this missive, it did print a letter from Paul B. Jaskot, a professor at DePaul University and CAA president from 2008 to 2010, on February 20. The next day, Jason Clayworth reported that the idea to sell the painting died in legislature.

Letter to the Editor

February 17, 2011

To the Editor
The Des Moines Register

When Peggy Guggenheim donated Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” to the University of Iowa in 1951 she was not donating the cash equivalent of the painting’s value. She was giving the University and the state of Iowa an iconic American painting. The purpose of the gift was to enrich the present and future members of the University community, and to benefit the citizens of Iowa as well as all Americans.

I am writing on behalf of the College Art Association, the nation’s premier visual rights organization, with 16,000 members—artists, art historians, other visual arts professionals and institutions across the country. It would be a major mistake for the Iowa Legislature to pass House Study Bill 84, which would compel the University’s Board of Regents to sell an irreplaceable part of the state’s patrimony.

As teachers, students and arts professionals, we acknowledge the urgent financial situation facing the University, and we note that the bill proposes that any funds earned be used to support scholarships for art majors. Any sale of “Mural,” however, would violate broadly accepted professional museum standards. More importantly, it would rob all Iowans of a remarkable painting, which was intended for them to enjoy and appreciate—in Iowa. We are hopeful that the legislature will reject the bill, to keep the painting in Iowa, where it rightly belongs.

Sincerely,

Barbara Nesin, MFA
President, College Art Association


Linda Downs
Executive Director, College Art Association

The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors has reviewed and approved the support of the following statement, published on February 2, 2011, under the aegis of the Association of Art Museum Directors. You may download a PDF of the letter.

Statement regarding Egypt

New York, NY—February 2, 2011—Recent news reports about the turmoil in Egypt have varyingly reported that some damage was done to works of ancient art in Egyptian museums—and that those who attempted to do harm were stopped. Just as we worry about the safety of Egypt’s citizens in this time of civil unrest, so, too, do we worry about the safety of the country’s cultural heritage—works of art and material culture crucial to our understanding of world civilization and humanity.

We, the representatives of the leading American museums and university art and art history departments, stand with the people of Egypt in their determination to protect 5,000 years of history, including those objects from history that remain unexcavated. Our members—more than 21,000 institutions and individuals—stand ready to assist in any way possible to secure the art and artifacts of Egypt.

Association of Art Museum Directors, Kaywin Feldman, President
American Association of Museums, Ford Bell, President
Association of Art Museum Curators, John Ravenal, President
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, David Alan Robertson, President
College Art Association, Barbara Nesin, President

Contact

Janet Landay and Christine Anagnos
Association of Art Museum Directors
212-754-8084

Sascha Freudenheim and Elizabeth Chapman
Resnicow Schroeder Associates
212-671-5172 and 212-671-5159

Because fifty-one new members of the United States Congress may be unfamiliar with the important contributions made by the visual arts, the humanities, and museums in their communities, now is a crucial time to join the advocacy efforts of your peers, visit the offices of your federal representatives, and make your voice heard.

Join members of the CAA staff and Board of Directors at three upcoming advocacy events in Washington, DC: Museums Advocacy Day (February 28–March 1); Humanities Advocacy Day (March 7–8); and Arts Advocacy Day (April 4–5).

On the first day of each event, advocates receive training on how best to present a concise, compelling message to congressional leaders. On the following day, advocates gather by state and make personal visits to their senators and representatives on Capitol Hill to address the specific needs, interests, and contributions of their constituents—that is to say, you, your friends and colleagues, and your schools and museums.

The nineteen new senators and thirty-two new representatives (PDF) must be updated on the crucial activities in the arts in their respective states and districts. The most effective educational tool is for advocates to meet their members of Congress and administrative staffs in person. Every state needs representation. CAA urges you to sign up today!

Graduate students currently enrolled in MFA programs at twenty schools within one hundred miles of New York will participate in the College Art Association New York Area MFA Exhibition, on view February 9–April 9, 2011, at the spacious Hunter College/Times Square Gallery. Held concurrently with the 99th Annual Conference and Centennial Kickoff in New York, the exhibition marks the seventh time that Hunter College will host this expansive survey exhibition.

An opening reception for the artists, their professors, and CAA conference attendees will take place on Friday evening, February 11, 6:00–9:00 PM. Free and open to the public, the Hunter College/Times Square Gallery is located at 450 West 41st Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues—a short walk or cab ride from the Hilton New York. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 1:00–6:00 PM. CAA is also sponsoring the College Art Association Regional BFA Exhibition, which opens on the same evening at the New York Center for Art and Media Studies (NYCAMS).

RSVP to the exhibition on Facebook.

Participating Schools

Participating institutions are: Bard College, Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts; Long Island University, C.W. Post Campus; Montclair State University; New Jersey City University; New York Academy of Art; Parsons the New School for Design; Pratt Institute; Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts; School of Visual Arts; Temple University, Tyler School of Art; University of Connecticut, Storrs; and Yale University, Yale School of Art.

In addition, five art departments in the City University of New York system are participating: Brooklyn College; City College of New York; Hunter College; Herbert H. Lehman College; and Queens College.

Two art departments and one school in the State University of New York system are also sending artists: Purchase College, School of Art and Design; State University of New York, New Paltz; and Stony Brook University.

Hunter College Art Galleries

The Hunter MFA CAA Curatorial Committee comprises three MA students in the art-history program—Sophia Marisa Lucas, Valentina Spalten, and Annie Wischmeyer—and three MFA alumni who are adjunct faculty in the Department of Art: Selena Kimball, Eric Lee, and Nicole Tschampel.

On view at Hunter’s second space, the Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery, is Objects of Devotion and Desire: Medieval Relic to Contemporary Art, organized by Cynthia Hahn, professor of art history at Hunter, with the assistance of MA and MFA students from Hunter and PhD students from the Graduate Center. The exhibition sets up a dialogue between five medieval reliquaries from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and works by postwar artists such as Christian Boltanski, Hannah Wilke, and Joseph Beuys, and by contemporary practitioners Gayil Nalls, Nate Larson, and Jeffrey Mongrain, among others. Hahn also includes examples of early photography in the mix.

The Leubsdorf Gallery is located in the West Lobby at Hunter College, on the southwest corner of East 68th Street and Lexington Avenue; no admission fee is required. The exhibition dates are January 27–April 30, 2011.

The Executive Committee of the CAA Board of Directors adopted the following statement on December 7, 2010. At the bottom of the page is information about a special session at the upcoming CAA Annual Conference, chaired by Jonathan Katz, a scholar and the cocurator of Hide/Seek.

CAA Statement

The College Art Association regrets the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly (1987) from the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, on display at the National Portrait Gallery. It was taken out on November 30 by G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in response to outside pressure. CAA further expresses profound disappointment that the House speaker–designate, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and the incoming majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, have used their positions to question future funding for the Smithsonian Institution.

CAA applauds the National Portrait Gallery for its groundbreaking exhibition, which presents the long-suppressed subject of same-sex orientation. Furthermore, CAA commends the thorough, pioneering scholarship and the challenging curatorial judgment made by the organizers of Hide/Seek—David C. Ward, a historian at the museum, and Jonathan Katz, director of the Visual Studies Doctoral Program at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. That the work of everyone involved has been heedlessly compromised is deeply troubling. The pressure brought to bear on the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian sounds a familiar note from 1989, when direct federal funding to artists was ended due to political pressure. Then as now, CAA strongly protests such tactics.

Government has a long tradition of supporting universities, museums, and libraries—institutions that have produced research that expresses a variety of positions on all subjects. Freedom of expression is one of the great strengths of American democracy and one that our country holds up as a model for emerging democracies elsewhere. Americans understand that ideas expressed in books and artworks are those of their makers, not of the institutions that house them, and certainly do not represent public policy.

CAA urges all members to let your senators and representatives know of your support for the exhibition, its curators, and the National Portrait Gallery. You may also use advocacy tools provided by the National Humanities Alliance or Americans for the Arts.

Special Conference Session

This week CAA invited Jonathan Katz, cocurator of Hide/Seek, to chair a special Centennial session at the 2011 Annual Conference in New York. He will present “Against Acknowledgement: Sexuality and the Instrumentalization of Knowledge” on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 9:30 AM–NOON in the Rendezvous Trianon Room at the Hilton New York. Please check the conference website soon for a list of panelists, their institutional affiliations, and topics of discussion.

In the past week, numerous art and museum associations, advocacy groups, nonprofit and commercial galleries, art critics, and newspapers have spoken out against the removal of an artwork by David Wojnarowicz that was on view in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. CAA is compiling a list of organizations, companies, and people who have published official statements, editorials, and letters to the editor.

Organizations

Critics, Journalists, Scholars, and Curators

Museums and Galleries

Press and Publishing

Social Networking and Web Resources

The above list will be cumulative. If you would like to send CAA a link to an official or organizational statement, please write to Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor.