Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Positive Change
The Kress Foundation Department of Art History is committed to creating and sustaining a diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive community of students, teachers, and scholars. Through courses and research exploring cultural traditions from across the globe and spanning history, we aim to illuminate the rich diversity of human expression and experience and to foster appreciation for our common humanity. As we strive to move beyond a past built on racism, prejudice and systemic oppression, we pledge to do more to understand the historical forces that have created and perpetuate inequality, to advance anti-racism in our classrooms and within our community, and to build a truly inclusive art history. To that end, we will work to further diversify our courses and our curriculum; ensure that all students feel welcome in our classes regardless of their background, experiences, abilities and identities; and increase the diversity of our faculty and graduate student body.
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The faculty, staff, and students of the KU art history department stand in solidarity with the First Nations Student Association (FSNA) in condemning the recent vandalism of the public art installation in front of the Spencer Museum of Art, Native Hosts, by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, a highly distinguished Native KU alumnus.
We join with our Spencer Museum colleagues in expressing sadness over the damage to this artwork and in acknowledging the harm this has caused Native faculty, staff, students, and community members. We urge KU Public Safety investigators to make every effort to identify the perpetrators of this vandalism so that they may be held accountable for their actions; we appreciate the Spencer Museum’s commitment to reinstalling the artwork as soon as possible; and we support the Museum’s dedication to affirming Indigenous and Native sovereignty and experiences through art.
The KU art history department condemns anti-Asian violence and supports our Asian and Asian American students. Faculty and staff whole-heartedly support the statement authored by our department's Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Committee:
The KU Art History student body stands in solidarity with our AAPI siblings. We condemn bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, and we commit our support to AAPI communities at KU and beyond. We promise to use the platform we have built to facilitate dialogue about the anti-Asian hatred that has plagued the United States for centuries and surged over the last year and a half. We will uplift and engage in research that addresses cross-cultural exchange in visual culture. As a student body, we will hold regular dialogue that fosters an anti-racist classroom and a space of inclusivity and belonging. We pledge to build acknowledgment, awareness, and appreciation of diverse voices both within our department and the larger KU community as well as to cultivate an environment where all individuals feel safe and heard.
We have compiled a list of charities, advocacy groups, educational resources, and events in support of these aims, accessible here: https://arthistory.ku.edu/aapi-communities-support
KU Art History graduate students working toward a people-centered academic environment that respects diversity of experience and challenges disciplinary norms through empathy and mutual understanding.
The KU Art History DEAI Committee pledges to foster an environment of belonging and equity in the visual art and art history communities. We believe that in order to accomplish these goals, it is essential to promote greater dialogue between artists and art historians. Our committee aspires to increase communication between visual arts and art history students, integrate studio and gallery visits into our committee programming, and promote artists by providing a platform for them to share their work.
Within our department, we collaborate with faculty with the goal of promoting greater inclusivity of perspectives and experiences among our colleagues. Through initiatives such as our ongoing public lecture series, “Intersections of Identity: Expression, Exchange, and Hybridity,” we seek to expand and diversify the art historical canon by holding space for speakers whose work complements the strengths of our department and introduces students to subject matter that we may not encounter in our curriculum at KU. We also encourage greater accessibility in our scholarship by centering broader audiences, using approachable language, creating publicly available programming, hosting local artists and scholars, and partnering with community institutions.
We are a student-led volunteer organization, and our meetings are open to all KU Art History graduate students. Our weekly meeting times and agendas are available through Google Documents (external link).
Rather than adopting an internal hierarchy or titles, we are laterally run and contribute according to our strengths and comfort level. Committee member responsibilities have included communicating between faculty, staff, and students; planning a lecture series; organizing anonymous surveys; and moderating public lecture broadcasts. While we are responsible for coordinating our own community activities, we have received support from faculty and staff and the Franklin D. Murphy Fund for our ongoing lecture series “Intersections of Identity: Expression, Exchange, and Hybridity.”
Murphy Lecture Series:
Intersections of Identity: Expression, Exchange, and Hybridity
This series began in the 2020-21 academic year with the intention of demonstrating how art history's critical investigation of the past - and contemporary artists' grappling with challenges of the present - can help us to recognize, analyze, and combat racism and inequality, affirming our discipline's value in the ongoing struggle to create a more just and equitable society.
What constitutes identity, and how do people navigate, form, and reform their sense of self? And how can the study of art and its history help us to consider the diverse identities expressed by visual culture and its creators? This series seeks to amplify the voices of scholars and artists whose work explores individual and collective identities as those intersect with notions of the body, dis/ability, gender, heritage, and race.
The series is sponsored by the Franklin Murphy Lecture Fund of the Kress Foundation Department of Art History. It is presented in partnership with the Spencer Museum of Art, KU Department of Visual Art, Lawrence Arts Center, Lawrence Public Library, Raven Bookstore, BLACK Lawrence, and other community partners.
Rejecting the Feminist Label: Xiang Jing and the Construction of an Artist’s Identity
Assistant Professor of Art of Pre-Modern to Contemporary China and Chinese Painting
October 7, 2021; 7:00pmCT
Golem Girl: Being and Painting the Other
Chicago based artist, writer, and curator
December 2, 2021; 7:00pmCT
Assistant Professor, Modern and Contemporary Art
University of California Berkeley
February 3, 2022; 7:00pmCT
NYC based artist, speaker, and educator
March 10, 2022; 7:00pmCT
Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, & Design; Director of Critical Ethnic Studies
April 14, 2022; 7:00pmCT
Norman Akers, Associate Professor of Visual Art, University of Kansas
"Okesa / Halfway There"
Thursday, September 24 on YouTube: KU Art History Channel
M. Carmen Lane, Cleveland-based artist, writer, and director of the ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership
"Unfinished (We Are What's Left Undone): Identity, Performative Racial Scripts & the Necessity of the Anti-Colonial Iconoclast"
Thursday, October 29 on YouTube: KU Art History Channel
Dipti Khera, Associate Professor of Art History, NYU
"Archive/Agency/Argument: Mobilizing the Knowledge of Colonial India's 'Native' Artists in 'Global' Art Histories"
Friday, February 26, 2021 on YouTube: KU Art History Channel
Kimberly M. Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Fashion Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto
"The Fashion and Race Database: Providing a Pedagogical Platform Amidst Fashion’s Racial Reckoning"
Thursday, March 18, 2021 on YouTube: KU Art History Channel
Keri Watson, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Central Florida, and Director of the Florida Prison Education Project
"Dalí's Dream of Venus: Sex, Surrealism, and Eugenics at the 1939 New York World's Fair"
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 on YouTube: KU Art History Channel