Dear SA+AH Community – The fall semester is here. We are ready, but I do ask that we all approach this semester with flexibility and as much grace as possible. We have opened many of our facilities and implemented cleaning, screening, and distancing protocols to keep everyone safe. Of course, none of this will matter if we do not maintain responsible behaviors outside of class as well. Being able to use our facilities is a shared responsibility that I know you take seriously.
Many of our fall classes are being delivered online or in a hybrid manner. A small number of classes are being conducted in a modified face-to-face manner – as long as it is safe to do so. I look forward to setting foot into our galleries again and attending (virtually) our Visiting Artist Series and our Harn Eminent Scholar Chair in Art History lectures. Information on all of these opportunities can be found on our website at https://arts.ufl.edu/academics/art-and-art-history/visiting-artists-scholars/lectures/ and https://arts.ufl.edu/sites/harn-eminent-scholar-chair-in-art-history/lectures-2020-2021/.
The last time I wrote a director’s letter was June 2, in it I talked about the killing of George Floyd and how we need to work to dismantle institutional racism. As I write this, it is two days after Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, WI. Having taught in Wisconsin for 17 years, I know many of the people that were peacefully protesting Blake’s shooting. I heard their first-hand accounts of how these events turned violent. I know that many of you have stories about how these events across the nation have touched your lives as well. These are issues belonging to all of us. Since June, many of us have worked to compile resources on what we can learn and do, and many of these can be found here: https://www.cotasymposium.com/cotaresources. I encourage you to use these, and if you have others to add, please consider sharing them with us.
In these historic times, what matters is that we keep going. This looks different for each of us, and it looks different from day to day. Maybe you are finding, as I am, that your days are cyclical – good days, frustrating days, exhausting days. What I aim to do is stay present, to pay attention and be in the moment as much as I can. I keep hearing the words of Walt Whitman, “I am large, I contain multitudes,” and his words remind me that my own complexity is both my challenge and my potential. That keeps me going. I hope you have your own touchstones and inspiration. I ask that you consider sharing these to include in future newsletters. In this time when we can’t gather in person as we have in the past, I hope our newsletter can become a repository for sharing what you are looking at, thinking about, and making. Please send to: SAAHnews@arts.ufl.edu.
Beyond inspiration, in these dynamic historic times, it is critical that we consume good information, verified information. Journalism is a profession that upholds our democracy. Not all information is verified, and in fact, many of the algorithms driving our social media actually sort out diverse opinions, and instead, reflect our own biases back to us. Seek out diverse sources, beyond social media, to stay informed. And of course, for those of you who are able to vote, I hope you are registered and do so. UF has made this easy, information can be found here: https://guides.uflib.ufl.edu/voting.
This fall I look forward to being present with you – to support and also hold each other accountable to all that we are, have been, and can become.