Dear Art Students and Members of the OSU Community,

This is a letter from the Department of Art faculty. We welcome participation from students, staff, and lecturers to expand this ongoing conversation.

Let us begin by stating: The Ohio State Department of Art faculty unequivocally condemns anti-Black racism and police violence against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities.

We write this in the midst of ongoing protest and soon after Juneteenth, a celebration of Black emancipation from slavery in this country. This is a statement in the spirit of justice and solidarity. As a community, we stand with the Movement for Black Lives and commit to concrete anti-racist action, from within the institution and without.

To the BIPOC members of our community: We recognize that the experience of racism is not new for you. We recognize that racism is endemic to every aspect of each of our lives because every structure we encounter in this country, including its democracy, was built on it. We are committed to hearing, seeing, and valuing your lives and experiences as meaningful, worthy, and joyful. We recognize that Blackness is not monolithic. We recognize that simply confessing privilege isn’t the same as dismantling it.

To the white people of our community: we call on you to join us, today and every day, to recognize your embedded privilege, to be aware of the space you are enabled to occupy, to commit to the ongoing process of listening and learning, to contend with your whiteness not as a ‘default’ position but rather as its own racial construct with an attending culture and history. We call on you to locate and combat the racial prejudice that lies within, a commitment that never ends.

The truth is this letter comes too late. These statements – this rage, this confrontation of complicity – shouldn’t have to wait until a human being is murdered by the state, in broad daylight. We should have been experiencing this rage and exposing and confronting our complicity, publicly, all along. We do not believe that simply stating our solidarity erases hundreds of years of enforced separation, antagonism, erasure and complicity in the United States.  We commit to taking concrete steps towards change.

We believe that artists have a unique role to play in this struggle.  One of the labors that art can perform is to produce meaning through forms of political and emotional visibility and alternative social representation.  Among our tasks is to imagine what could be. Let us take that responsibility seriously, beginning in the place where we are.  Our practice takes many urgent and necessary forms: we imagine and create space for the unseen, for outrage, for self-examination. We believe that the work of art-making may lend itself to the work of social justice: to demand the world we want and to create space for imagination to make it so.

We commit to orienting our course offerings toward the inclusion of more artists of color, and toward ongoing discussions of race and racism. We recognize the priority of exploring art's role in shaping racist discourses, and of countering those discourses in all our practices. We commit to undertaking these changes at all levels of our teaching, from introductory classes to upper level and graduate courses. We will work more diligently to integrate into our curriculum our values of anti-racism, basic principles of social justice, and diversity.  Our new Department of Art Learning Goals and Objectives developed by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee reflect this commitment and we will vigilantly work on its continued evolution as we move forward. The Department of Art is committed to these issues in the most fundamental aspect of our mission: the education of students.

As part of our commitment to changing our own departmental culture and engaging in meaningful conversation and action, we reaffirm our dedication to working on specific departmental initiatives with the collaborative support of faculty, lecturers, staff, and students.

We commit to taking concrete steps towards change.

In appreciation and solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and allied movements, The Ohio State University Department of Art Faculty

  • Roger Beebe
  • Carmel Buckley
  • Alison Crocetta
  • Ann Hamilton
  • Richard Harned
  • Laura Lisbon
  • Michael Mercil
  • Gina Osterloh
  • Dani ReStack
  • George Rush
  • Suzanne Silver
  • Todd Slaughter
  • Jared Thorne
  • John Thrasher
  • Steve Thurston
  • Carmen Winant
  • Amy Youngs