To Whom Are We Accountable

Jason HeissererUncategorized

Friends,

I have been thinking a lot about the Direct Drive exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), the community response to it, and the effort of CAM’s Black administrative staff to call for curatorial, programmatic, and institutional adjustments at CAM. I wrote a letter to their senior administrators reflecting my thoughts about the exhibit with the support of our Black Student Union, our art teachers, and other faculty and administrators here at Crossroads. Our plan is to support the Black administrative staff at CAM and to forego any visit to the museum until the exhibition is taken down.

All of this has me thinking about Crossroads, our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and equity, to whom we are accountable for this work, and what the work looks like at each level and in each role in our organization. Frankly, we all have a role in how we live into this commitment. The work of living into this commitment is at personal, relational, and organizational levels as well, and developing the capacity for the personal work of anti-racism and anti-bias takes time and patience and a willingness to give and receive feedback. I am constantly challenged by how to give space, how to listen with empathy and curiosity, how to respond-in-action, and how to be accountable to our community, particularly those who are subject to systemic or institutional oppression.

I want there to be room at Crossroads for the dissenting opinion, for the lived experiences of each individual, and for the opportunity to learn from what might be uncomfortable, challenging, or on the periphery of our vision or experience. I also hope that our curriculum and pedagogy reflect more and more a plan and thoughtfulness for all of the diversity in body, in living, and in learning that we represent.

I am proud that our BSU, art teachers, and others wanted to speak out on behalf of our community regarding Direct Drive at CAM, and I hope that Crossroads has more capacity and is better equipped to receive feedback from our own constituencies about how we might create a more just and equitable experience for each of our students.

With great expectations,
Jason

PS You can read my letter to CAM here and can read more about the Direct Drive exhibit in an article from the St. Louis American and in an article from STL Today.