George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, MN. In New York City’s Central Park, Amy Cooper threatened to call the police and falsely claim she was being attacked by Christian Cooper, evoking a racist legacy of terror and criminalization of black and brown men. Earlier this month, Nina Pop was murdered in Sikeston, MO. Breonna Taylor was murdered in March in Louisville, KY. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered in February in Satilla Shores, GA. This is nowhere close to a complete list—and does not even begin to address the fact that people of color are bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and death from COVID-19.
During this moment when the deep wounds of racism are again laid bare, it is hard not to be reminded of how many such issues in our society are unresolved and unattended. And likewise it reminds me how much work we all need to do to heal these divisions.
As a community, I do not think art museums have done enough. We have dabbled around the edges of the work, but in our place of privilege we will never live up to the statement that “museums are for everyone” unless we begin to confront, examine and dismantle the various structures that brought us to this point.
Right now, I search for words to make sense of what is simply senseless. But maybe now is our time to not speak; maybe now it is incumbent on us to listen. There is much work to be done as a community, but leading that community also requires the passionate investment of us as individuals. At the same time, we must try to re-engage with the best elements of the arts: the ways in which they can elevate and amplify individual voices; the ways in which art can express powerful ideas and emotions without words; and the ways in which art, and artists, and those who support the arts, have so often fostered community. It does not happen automatically, or naturally. But it can be done—and I think our field has an obligation to do a better job engaging with these issues.
Black Lives Matter.
Executive Director, AAMD