The Art World We Want
In December of last year, concurrent with PAFA’s exhibition Chuck Close Photographs, several women came forward to accuse the artist of sexual misconduct in his studio.
These accusations come at a moment of cultural reckoning that is allowing women to speak openly and honestly about their experiences with harassment and trauma. The accusations against one artist remind each of us that the problems of abusive power are as endemic in the art world as they are in other sectors.
PAFA decided that the Chuck Close Photographs exhibition will stay on view. Taking it down might have been easier – it would have allowed us to move on to the next project, to mute the stories we’ve heard, and to place other as-yet-untold tales to the sidelines of our work lives. It would have preserved our artistic mentors, heroes and even the canon of art history.
But we believe there is a new canon to write, more stories to be told and more questions still to be asked. By leaving Chuck Close Photographs on view, we want to create a space that encourages that full dialogue.
This adjacent gallery has been reinstalled with a selection of works from the museum’s permanent collection that help us ask some of these questions and invite your answers. These questions are about all of us—about power, gender, race, sexuality and access. What is our response, our collective vision for where we need to go as a creative community to bring a more equitable, diverse and accessible art world into being?
Art museums and art schools must own their role in perpetuating the status quo. Only through honest debate and dialogue will we be able to articulate how the future art world must be different.