Our nation, our city, our university, and our communities are grieving the continued violent murders of Black people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. They are a reminder of the systemic racism that has been a long-standing part of our history. George Floyd’s senseless death leaves us heartbroken and angry, and because it is not an isolated event, the anguish that we all share is palpable.
In Arizona Arts we stand recommitted to the important work of effecting change within our communities. This is not a time to be quiet. Our promise is to speak up and take concrete action in this moment and beyond, because not to do so comes with a price. We stand with the victims of racism and anti-Blackness who experience the violence of social inequity often with fatal consequences. We will listen and support efforts to undo systemic injustice, and we invite you to hold us accountable as we pledge to focus on the power of art to create positive change.
At their best, the arts can be a liberating instrument. The power of the arts to not only share and heal, but to embed memory, and to record both a singular tragedy and a history of injustice is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the mural created to remember and honor George Floyd at the site of his death. Completed by a group of Twin Cities artists within 24 hours of his death, the mural, one of many that have since sprung up worldwide, has become an altar for thousands who gather to mourn together in prayer, song, poetry, and recitations. (More information on the mural and its creators, as well as an image of it, can be found in this piece from Hyperallergic.) The names of African Americans who have died in police custody appear in the black disc framing the larger-than-life image of George Floyd. One of the mural artists noted there wasn’t nearly enough space to write all the names of Black people who, like Floyd, had died.
The question we must address, collectively and individually, is how can we as Arizona Arts contribute most effectively to challenging systemic injustice?
We will strive to integrate this critical work into everything we do, acknowledging that we have a very long way to go. We will be attentive, available, and responsive, working together with you to ensure that Arizona Arts is a leading voice in working to achieve a more just and equitable future.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your ideas!
Dean, College of Fine Arts
Vice President for the Arts