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Nearly 80 National Academy Members Sign Letter in Support of Dana Schutz and ICA Boston

The signatories, a mix of members and members-elect, include Kara Walker, Dread Scott, Ed Ruscha, Jack Whitten, Judith Bernstein, and Peter Saul.

Installation view of Dana Schutz at ICA Boston (all photos by Dominic Deluque and used with permission)

Members and members-elect of the National Academy of Art have expressed their support of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Boston (ICA) and its an current exhibition of recent works by Dana Schutz, which a group of protestors have demanded be cancelled. An open letter shared with Hyperallergic by artist Barbara Grossman and signed by nearly 80 artists and architects praised the ICA for refusing to “bow to forces in favor of censorship or quelling dialogue.” Among its signatories are Ed Ruscha, Dread Scott, Jack Whitten, Catherine Opie, and Kara Walker — the latter of whom posted a widely shared message earlier this year on Instagram in defense of Schutz and her contentious painting of Emmett Till. Schutz herself has been a member of the Academy since 2010.

Their letter responds directly to a six-page Google document penned two weeks ago by a group of Boston artists, activists, and community members. Addressed to curator Eva Respini and her team, it calls for the museum to “pull the show,” adding: “This is not about censorship. This is about institutional accountability.” Their demands are driven by Schutz’s painting of Till and its inclusion in the Whitney Biennial, for which they believe Schutz needs to be held accountable.

Installation view of Dana Schutz at ICA Boston

The portrait is not in the ICA’s show, a fact that the National Academy members emphasize. Open since July 26, the exhibition Dana Schutz continues through November 26.

Read the letter, in full, below:

August 3, 2017

As members of the National Academy, we would like to voice our unequivocal support for Dana Schutz, who was recently excoriated by a group of Boston artists who were demanding that her current exhibition at the ICA in Boston be canceled, a demand meant to penalize Schutz, the artist behind Open Casket, a controversial painting featured at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, which draws on the well-known photograph of Emmett Till lying disfigured in his casket.

This painting is not included in the ICA exhibition.

As fellow artists and architects, we wholeheartedly support cultural institutions like the ICA-Boston who refuse to bow to forces in favor of censorship or quelling dialogue.

It is also of the utmost importance to us that artists not perpetrate upon each other the same kind of intolerance and tyranny that we criticize in others.

We support the ICA-Boston and its decision to exhibit the works of Dana Schutz, and to maintain programming that fosters conversations between people with different points of view, especially given our current political climate of intolerance.

Sig Abeles, NA
Marina Abramovic, NA-Elect
Stan Allen, NA
Polly Apfelbaum, NA
Dotty Attie, NA
Judith Bernstein, NA-Elect
Robert Birmelin, NA
Willard Boepple, NA
Richard Bosman, NA
Gregory Botts, NA
Pau Broches, NA-Elect
Henry Casselli, NA
Walter Chatham, NA
Chuck Close, NA
William Clutz, NA
Lisa Corinne Davis, NA-Elect
Donna Dennis, NA
Jane Dickson, NA
Rackstraw Downes, NA
Jackie Ferrara, NA-Elect
Louise Fishman, NA
Andrew Ginzel, NA
Jacqueline Gourevitch, NA
Philip Grausman, NA
Barbara Grossman, NA
Richard Haas, NA
Nancy Hagin, NA
Ann Hamilton, NA
Walter Hatke, NA
Julie Heffernan, NA
Nona Hershey, NA
Diana Horowitz, NA
David Humphrey, NA
Valerie Jaudon, NA
Roberto Juarez, NA
Harriet Korman, NA
Joyce Kozloff, NA
Tuck Langland, NA
Pat Lasch, NA
Jonathan Lasker, NA
Mel Leipzig, NA
Alfred Leslie, NA
James McGarrell, NA
Melissa Meyer, NA
Raoul Middleman, NA
John Moore, NA
John Newman, NA
Catherine Opie, NA-Elect
Tom Otterness, NA
Anthony Panzera, NA
Philip Pearlstein, NA
Judy Pfaff, NA-Elect
Ed Ruscha, NA-Elect
Joseph Santore, NA
Peter Saul, NA
Dread Scott, NA-Elect
Annabelle Selldorf, NA
Arlene Shechet, NA
Laura Shechter, NA
Cindy Sherman, NA-Elect
James Siena, NA
Elena Sisto, NA
Richard Sloat, NA
Joan Snyder, NA
Gary Stephan, NA
Jessica Stockholder, NA
Immi Storrs, NA
Altoon Sultan, NA
Barbara Takenaga, NA
Claire Van Vliet, NA
Don Voisine, NA
Kara Walker, NA-Elect
Susan Jane Walp, NA
Sharon Wandel, NA
Leslie Wayne, NA
Stephen Westfall, NA
Jack Whitten, NA-Elect

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