Sunday, September 16, 2007

Katie Skelly

Dear Ms. Cantor,

My name is Katie Skelly, and I am a recent graduate of Syracuse
University, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History in May,
2007. I served as an intern at the Warehouse Gallery from January
through May in the Spring 2007 semester. I fondly recall this as not
only one of the best working experiences I have ever had, but also as
one of the happiest, due to the wonderful chemistry between Gallery
Director Astria Suparak, Intern Coordinator Elaine Quick, and
Installation Director Frank Olive. I was thrilled with the all of the
possibilities that the Gallery provided me to learn and grow within my
field, as well as all the potential it had to turn Syracuse into a
respected city for contemporary art, and so I am absolutely appalled
at the decision to remove Astria Suparak from the Warehouse Gallery.

The first time I met Astria Suparak was after I had submitted my
resume to the gallery regarding my interest in working there during
the Spring Semester. When Astria interviewed me, I could tell she was
not just looking for free labor, which so many internships
unfortunately turn out to be. She wanted to know if I knew what was
going on in contemporary art, design, and the art market- things I was
studying on my own and barely gleaning from the University's limited
art history program I was enrolled in. She spoke with the utmost
sincerity about her vision of making Syracuse not just an art scene
for students, but for involving the entire community. Some of the
tasks which I was assigned by Astria were to create online profiles
for the gallery, making sure to get the attention of local businesses
and community groups, as well as non-University residents of Syracuse;
another task was to physically distribute publicity materials
throughout campus as well as to local restaurants, cafes, stores, and
community centers. We advertised our gallery openings everywhere
possible and welcomed all members of the Syracuse community to enjoy
our exhibitions. As I would scan local newspapers for reviews, I
would find that our shows were always held in the highest regard.
Additionally, Astria also organized tours for local schoolchildren
through our exhibitions, as well as community shows such as one to
benefit a local pet shelter. I struggle to find a better example of
the "Soul of Syracuse" campaign at work, and Astria's warmth and
approachability always made our gallery an amazing place to be.

Astria's ambitions for the Warehouse Gallery were always high, and her
determination to fulfill her visions never wavered. Her incredibly
thoughtful show, Faux Naturel, was critically acclaimed and even
travelled to Canada, and the artwork she chooses is always challenging
but never pretentious or deliberately obtuse. She has a superb eye for
details and always knew exactly the right touches to make anything
from a press release to a mailing list to an entire exhibition look
interesting and fantastic. I am not exaggerating when I say I learned
more from working with Astria Suparak and the rest of the Warehouse
Gallery staff about the world of art than I did in my entire four
years studying art history.

And now to receive news that Astria will be removed from her position
as Gallery Director at the Warehouse Gallery shocks and infuriates me.
At a time when a so-called "enlightened" campus continues to openly
reject sculpture given to us by our late alumnus Sol LeWitt (with no
mention of his recent death mentioned in any campus publication), at a
time when the campus teaches no critical undergraduate courses on
contemporary art and art theory, at a time when there is only one
other contemporary art gallery regularly attended by students at
Syracuse University, removing the head of an already successful
contemporary art gallery is not only foolish, but stops all progress
in making the city of Syracuse a more diversified and culturally rich

The decision to remove Astria Suparak absolutely must be reconsidered.
She has done more for the "Soul of Syracuse" program than anyone could
have asked of her, and has taught me more about art than any class
ever could.

Katie Skelly

No comments:


Syracuse has lost one its greatest assets. Astria Suparak, Inaugural Director of The Warehouse Gallery of Syracuse University, was removed from her position as of Sept. 30th, 2007, despite widespread support from community members, students, faculty, and the international art community. This decision was made unilaterally by Jeffrey Hoone, Executive Director of the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers (CMAC).

At the time of Suparak's dismissal, Hoone also canceled her forthcoming exhibitions, including "Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men," due to open in November 2007.