June 8, 2020
Dear Museum Members and friends,
Thank you again for your ongoing support and messages of concern.
As protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis continue to rock the US, people all over are reckoning with what they can do to directly support positive social and political change. The Asheville Art Museum stands in solidarity with all who seek justice and demand an end to centuries of racism in the United States.
Artists of conscience of all colors, backgrounds, and working in all media have taken up this challenge, historically and today.
“I felt that my mission in life was to make visible what appears to be invisible and I do that as someone who is blind and comes into a world and suddenly begins to see.” Bruce Davidson, photographer
In Asheville, artists and business owners are transforming raw plywood covering their windows with murals impressing upon all of us the need to come together to fight against violence and systemic racism.
Lonnie G. Bunch III, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, recently noted, “museums are not community centers, but museums should be centers of their communities.” The Asheville Art Museum sits on an important historical and contemporary corner of the city. The transparent and, we hope, welcoming new Museum bears witness on a regular basis to demonstrations, calls to action, and protests of all kinds. These gatherings are fundamental to the fabric of this community. The ongoing protests that began last week are unlike any in recent memory.
Museums, including ours, do not claim to have the answers, but we believe they can be a place for all voices to be heard—places that essentially impact and shape our consciences through empathy, dialogue, conversation, and inspiration centered around art.
Diversity, equity, access, and inclusion are principles deeply embedded in the Museum’s mission, vision, and values, creating the lens through which we collect and exhibit art and plan programs that serve and reflect our communities. While we have made progress, we acknowledge that there is much more to do to bridge theory and practice and to build an open culture of belonging. We are committed to doing this work, step by step, and to building a more equitable future.
We all must look within and challenge ourselves to dispel racism in all its forms. Now is a time to listen, learn, and develop lasting partnerships between the arts and the community to identify and articulate areas of opportunity and to ensure that we do better. Together, we can make a difference.
Although hard, talking about race, inequities, injustice, and privilege is necessary. This week, as we resume social-media postings, we will send links to resources to help us navigate difficult conversations. Today we share a link from our colleagues at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture who have created an online resource that provides tools and guidance to empower our journeys and inspire conversations.
Pamela L. Myers