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Gordon Parks, Untitled, New York, New York, 1963 © Gordon Parks Foundation

Dear AUC Art History + Curatorial Studies Community,

I am writing to check in with each of you in the midst of the protests gripping our communities and nation following the combined toll of the Covid-19 pandemic, the violent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Aubrey, and the sustained and relentless everyday violence of state-sanctioned structural racism.

As a curator, art historian, educator and seasoned reader of visual images, the media images that have been flooding our screens, some used to catch unchecked police violence or public murders even, are nearly impossible to watch, comprehend or experience. Like you and many others, I am looking for ways to understand, heal and cope. Saturday evening’s violent public arrest of two young people from our own AUC community, Taniyah Pilgrim of Spelman and Messiah Young of Morehouse, brought matters uncomfortably close to home.

In the coming days and weeks, I am calling on the AUC Art Collective community — students, faculty and staff — to work together on initiatives that help facilitate meaningful conversations, raise awareness, and discuss actions we can take together to put into action positive social change. A new 200–level class on Art and Social Justice, originally proposed for the 2021/2022 academic year, will be pushed forward this coming academic year instead. Our Instagram Live Thursday Noon Lunchtime Live Conversations will continue to grapple with current events as we discuss art, education, social justice and professional practice. And perhaps, not ironically, my summer session course, The Black Arts Movement Online, begun on June 1st, is studying many of these battles, fought during the Civil Rights and Black Power eras, through close examination of the 1967 Kerner Commission Report on Civil Unrest, aesthetic practice, artist-run collectives, artistic activism, social protest, artists’ manifestos and community organizing.

While the #BlackOutTuesday protest urges us to show solidarity and support for social justice and advocacy groups, it also encourages us to reconnect with each other. As members of our innovative and transformational AUC Art Collective community, I invite your creative and constructive ideas to help us address this moment as we begin summer internships, jobs and coursework. I have shared my thoughts and I welcome you to share yours either by responding to this email or through our social media platforms tomorrow.

Let us continue to support our AUCC presidents in their steadfast leadership during these troubled times. You remain part of our bright future as we chart a path forward toward healing, understanding and a better, more just and equitable world.

In solidarity,

Cheryl Finley, Ph.D.
Inaugural Distinguished Visiting Director
AUC Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective 
Spelman College | Department of Art + Visual Culture 
350 Spelman Lane, SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30314-4399 
o. 404.270.5333 | c. 917.691.4175 | cfnley5@spelman.edu 
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The Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective is the
first and only undergraduate program in the nation specifically designed to
educate the next generation of visual arts professionals of color. We offer a major
in Art History and minors in Curatorial Studies and Art History to students at
Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College.

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