CAA News Today

Board of Directors Candidate: Radha Dalal

posted by CAA — Dec 22, 2022



CAA has been a constant in my professional journey from the time I was an art history graduate student at the University of Minnesota. Since then, I have served on CAA’s International Committee (2012-2015) followed by the Committee on Diversity Practices (2016-2020). As part of the former, I helped host members of one of the earliest cohorts of the CAA-Getty International Program. For the latter, I co-chaired the IDEA Exchange Roundtable “From Diversity to Decolonization: International Art History and its Pedagogy” (2020). I am now deeply honored to be selected by the Nominating Committee as one of the candidates in the upcoming Board of Directors election. It would be a privilege to collaborate with colleagues on the Board, and the membership at large, to support ongoing efforts and to activate new initiatives in advancing CAA’s vision and mission. 

As a historian of Islamic art, my career brought me to Qatar where I now serve as the Director of the Art History Program at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Art’s international campus. Leading an art history department within an art and design institution has made me keenly aware of the challenges the visual arts and humanities collectively face today. In this regard, structures and systems in higher education that provide equitable teaching, learning, and research environments, that foster diversity and inclusion in the truest sense, and that focus holistically on the needs of emerging and established professionals are of great interest to me. As we encounter pressures from pandemics to wars, the demands on educators and the burdens on students, especially in the visual arts, have become all the more acute. Since a good percentage of CAA’s membership falls under those categories, I believe CAA can play a much larger role in facilitating dialogue and actionable outcomes toward more robust and resilient educational and professional models.  

In the last two decades, my own field of Islamic art history has grown tremendously. New methodologies and approaches take into account the complex history of the discipline, its innovative engagement with collections and museums, the strengthening of relationships with creative fields, and the increasing efforts to decolonize curricula and to embrace a path informed by social justice concerns and the climate crisis. Such issues are mirrored across disciplines represented by CAA’s membership, placing the organization at the nexus of pivotal changes and exchanges throughout the visual arts. 

As a board member, I would advocate for expanding and reinforcing CAA’s international engagement, developing more support for emerging professionals and adjunct faculty, and nurturing a space for transdisciplinary scholarship and creative practice. The most important duty of a board member is to serve the membership with care and integrity. I look forward to discussions on how CAA might meaningfully engage upcoming generations of visual artists, designers, curators, art historians, and others. I recognize that CAA cannot be involved in everything for it will lose its ability to function properly, but we can more closely align with the needs of today’s membership and those who will join in the near future. With your support, I hope to work toward that goal. 

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