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Amidst a seismic shift in how we think and talk about equity in America, the art world is undergoing a transformation that questions what art is presented to the public and who gets to make these decisions. To help identify a way forward for the art industry, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a leading college of art and design, launched a conference series to explore ideas for building an anti-racist art ecosystem on a local, national, and international level.
The first event in the series, Toward an Anti-Racist Art Ecosystem, brought together local arts leaders to tackle issues in SAIC’s backyard, Chicago, and NBC’s LeeAnn Trotter talked to some of the panel participants for The Path Forward. The conversation with SAIC’s Interim Dean of Graduate Studies Delinda Collier, Executive Director of the American Library Association Tracie D. Hall, and Executive Director of Threewalls Jeffreen M. Hayes touched on the difficulty the art world has with acknowledging its racist past, inequities in the makeup of art and design organizations, and how institutions are starting to create change.
Collier, a co-chair of SAIC’s Anti-Racism Committee, spoke about the School’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work. The committee, composed of staff, faculty, and students, was established last summer by President Elissa Tenny to deepen the School’s commitment to anti-racism. The conference series is among the direct outgrowths of the Anti-Racism Committee’s efforts.
“Art and design are for everybody, not for the few,” said SAIC President Elissa Tenny.
In fall 2021, the series’ scope will broaden to include nationally-based leaders in the arts, and in spring 2022, internationally-based leaders. It is generously supported by Hindman Auctions and is free and open to the public.