The Role Museums Play in Social Activism

“Museums taking an activist stance is not new”

On July 26, the Brooklyn Museum opened The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America. This exhibition, created in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and Google, “seeks to spark an honest conversation about the legacy of racial injustice in America today.” EJI is a nonprofit in Montgomery, Alabama, that works to address racial and social injustices and to end mass incarceration. The exhibition includes artists such as Kara Walker, Rashid Johnson, and Theaster Gates. This is one of many recent examples of museums that have taken an “art for social change” stance in their programming.

Museums taking an activist stance is not new—in fact, they have been doing so for many years. Sometimes museums take a stance in a subtle way, such as when natural history museums included The Couple in a Cage: Two Amerindians Visit the West in 1992-93. In this work, artists Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña embodied fictional characters or “Amerindians” to make visible the abuse and exploitation inflicted on indigenous American Indians by European invaders. While these museums did not make an overt political statement on their intentions of criticizing the United States’ origin story, it was also a very important moment for including works of art that did not fit into the status quo. In more recent history, museums have become increasingly vocal in their ability to make political statements—for example, the Museum of Modern Art reacting to President Trump’s travel ban of early 2017.

This raises the questions: Should museums be seen as a place of dialogue for social change? Is it their responsibility to do so?

Recently, articles have come out addressing this topic—for example, MuseumNext conducted a survey asking “Should museums be activists?” Among the responses, data showed that “younger audiences respond very positively to the idea of museums taking a stand.”

In Georgia, cultural institutions responded to the threat of cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities by creating a postcard campaign with the hashtag #GAArtsFuture. This initiative began with two museums and one community-based arts organization: the High Museum of Art, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, and WonderRoot.

In many instances, even if a museum is unable to take a political or social stand for whatever reason, museum educational programming can still address the needs of the community. Last year at the High Museum, we began partnering with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice on providing guided tours for imprisoned students from various detention centers in the state. At the end of the year, we had an exhibition of the students’ work and a reception with the students, their parole officers, the students’ family, caregivers, and friends. We hope to grow the program to be more substantial and far-reaching, for more students, in the upcoming school year.

Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice exhibition at the High Museum of Art.Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice exhibition at the High Museum of Art.

Minneapolis Museum of Art took on the question “How can the museum be used as a site for social action?” and created a three-year strategic plan called Museum as Site for Social Action (MASS Action). The three years end in October, when they will unveil a toolkit of resources for museums and social action including educational programming practices.

Evaluation, documentation, and public response will determine the efficacy and sustainability of these programs. The responsibility of museums and cultural institutions to provide for a community, especially the next generation, is important, albeit complicated.

The choice of museums to take a stand is unique to each institution, and it’s complicated, layered, and specific to the geographical location and political climate of the region. In the meantime, artists will continue to create works that question our existence and boundaries; be responsive to the emotional, social, political, and religious world around them; and ask the important questions that move us all forward as aware global citizens. Museums and cultural institutions that support contemporary artists will continue to support them, whether through curatorial or educational programming. Supporting artists will also mean empowering youth voices through museum settings and allowing young artists to continue to push boundaries, respond to the world around them in an empathetic and critical way, and ask important questions for the rest of us to listen.

Kate McLeod is a member of Americans for the Arts.

Advertisements

Sister Corita Kent’s Art for Social Justice

bio from the Corita.org website:

 Corita Kent (1918–1986) was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. At age 18 she entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary, eventually teaching in and then heading up the art department at Immaculate Heart College. Her work evolved from figurative and religious to incorporating advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature. Throughout the ‘60s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and injustice. In 1968 she left the order and moved to Boston. After 1970, her work evolved into a sparser, introspective style, influenced by living in a new environment, a secular life, and her battles with cancer. She remained active in social causes until her death in 1986. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions.


Corita’s Artwork
Watch Corita Working

Excerpt from Alleluia
Produced & Directed by Thomas Conrad (1967)

Museum as Site for Social Action MASS

https://www.museumaction.org/

How do you transform museums from the inside out?

This collaborative project seeks to align museums with more equitable and inclusive practices. As the museum field begins to shape its identity in the 21st century, MASS Action poses the following questions for practitioners to consider: What is the role and responsibility of the museum in responding to issues affecting our communities locally and globally? How do the museum’s internal practices need to change in order to align with, and better inform, their public practice? How can the museum be used as a site for social action? Through a series of public convenings and the creation of a toolkit of resources, this project’s intention is to share the strategies and frameworks needed to address these important topics.

AATA Values vs. Pence Values

    AATA  Values

1.We believe art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

2.We advocate for the dignity, self-worth, well-being, and creative potential of all people as well as in the development and provision of art therapy to the public.

3.We affirm a commitment to inclusivity; we embrace all people and honor each individual’s race; ethnicity; religious or spiritual beliefs; national origin; ancestry; age; abilities; sexual orientation; gender; gender identity; gender expression; socioeconomic, marital, immigration, or military status; political views; and new cultural identities as they emerge.

4.We maintain commitment to strengthening AATA’s cultural proficiency, awareness, and attunement and welcome art therapists of diverse identities and backgrounds to join our membership, staff, and to serve on our Board of Directors.

  1. We endeavor to be an inclusive learning-centered organization that respects and incorporates the perspectives and contributions of our members, thereby integrating the needs and viewpoints of diverse communities into the design and implementation of our strategic plan.

6.We uphold social justice and sustainability through inclusion, awareness, practice, and affirmation that all people deserve equal economic, environmental, healthcare, political and social rights, and opportunities.

  1. We maintain awareness of the social and environmental consequences of human actions on communities, ecosystems, and associations and strive to advance a sustainable and just society.

 

  • PENCE Values
  • Karen Pence. ..Karen Pence,remains an
  • important influence on one of President Trump’s most important political allies. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/karen-pence-is-the-vice-presidents-prayer-warrior-gut-check-and-shield/2017/03/28/3d7a26ce-0a01-11e7-8884-96e6a6713f4b_story.html?utm_term=.24c611cd2e8c
  • AATA embraces the Pences who support conversion therapy
  • AATA embraces the Pences who supported the repeal of the affordable health care act and decreased funding to NEA
  • AATA embraces the Pences
  • As governor of Indiana, Mr. Pence opposed gay marriage and signed into law a bill that made it legal for businesses to cite religious freedom when refusing service to gay and transgender people, for example As a member of Congress, Mr. Pence voted against employment nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people and also voted against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/11/us/politics/trump-victory-alarms-gay-and-transgender-groups.html
  • Pences platform:
  • (2) bringing an end to gender mixed basic training and gender mixed housing on military bases.
  • • (3) bringing an end to assigning women to combat support units, combatant ships and pilot billets that ultimately result in women becoming involved in combat. While women have always made an important contribution to national security, we must resist liberal impulse to use the military to advance the interest of women in civilian culture at the expense of military readiness and effectiveness. America must not become the only nation in the world to use women in combat.
  • Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a “discreet and insular minority” entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.
  • • Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior. http://web.archive.org/web/20010519165033fw_/http:/cybertext.net/pence/issues.html

 

 

Mexico City Art Community Rallies to Aid Earthquake Victims


 


Catch up on the latest art news with our rundown of the 10 stories you need to know this week.

01  Members of the Mexico City arts community put a long-planned gallery weekend on hold and dove into recovery efforts following the devastating earthquake that struck Mexico on Tuesday.

(Artsy)

Mexico City’s Art Community Joins Recovery Efforts—Here’s How You Can Help

As of Friday morning, the quake has left at least 270 people dead, including at least 19 schoolchildren (a figure that was initially reported to be as high as 30), and turned many buildings into rubble. Gallery Weekend Mexico City, which was inaugurated in 2013, was due to kick off Thursday evening. Organizers said they, as well as the staff and artists from participating galleries, were all safe and accounted for. “The arts community is completely into the rescue and support efforts,” said Ricardo Porrero, the director of Gallery Weekend Mexico City. “Galleries such as Alterna, LABOR, Marso, and Páramo, and Fundación Alumnos, among others are operating as collection centers for supplies. Gallery staffs as well as ours have volunteered to aid quake victims.” Porrero said on Wednesday night that some artworks may be affected, although the gallery buildings were not. Many galleries sent out communications to announce the suspension of programming until further notice, and encouraged people to donate to relief efforts. Brett Schultz of BWSMX had planned an opening of work by Fabiola Menchelli for Wednesday night, but also postponed the event. “I think nearly everyone I know is out on the streets right now directly assisting in the relief efforts, be it at the collection centers, the rescue sites, or helping to move supplies around,” Schultz said. “There has been an incredible outpouring of civic action and support city-wide.”