Thursday, September 20, 2007

Krista Birnbaum

Dear Mr. Hoone,

I feel that it would be helpful at this point for the community to understand just what CMAC's mission statement is for the Warehouse Gallery. Clearly a majority of the community has been pleased with the exhibits and programs presented by the space thus far. If a personnel change will result in a subsequent change in the gallery mission, then I suspect the community would like to give input into those changes. I know that the University has been operating under Chancellor Cantor's mission to make a stronger connection between the University and the city of Syracuse. My impression was that the Warehouse Gallery, located in downtown Syracuse, was part of this larger University initiative. Now seems a perfect opportunity to take stock of the success of the gallery and gather input into the mission for the future.

I will not reiterate the many excellent praises of Astria Suparak's work as curator, director, and community member. I agree with so many of the letters that have proclaimed her successes so eloquently. I will say that the exhibits and lectures sponsored by the Warehouse Gallery were a welcome addition to my last year of graduate school at Syracuse University. Ms. Suparak provided a needed space for regional and international contemporary art in Syracuse. Her exhibits also gave a healthy space for voices of women artists and curators to be heard. This was particularly beneficial to me, as women are too often underrepresented in the art world.

I am concerned with the timing of these announcements. As others have already noted, dismissing Ms. Suparak during the current exhibition of feminist work sends a message that this is unacceptable material for an academic environment. Shouldn't just the opposite be true? The cancellation of the Yes Men sends a very similar message. Regardless of whether Ms. Suparak's dismissal is related to these particular exhibits, the coincidence is alarming.

Although I am watching these events from afar (Roswell, NM) my heart is with the Syracuse arts community. My involvement with Spark Contemporary Art Space and Spark Video provided an awareness of the difficulty in energizing local passion about art. The current flood of concern and desire for a vibrant arts community should tell you that something has been going right. Perhaps CMAC's mission statement should be revised to match this positive direction.

Krista Birnbaum
MFA Art Video 2007

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.