Monday, September 17, 2007

Olivia Robinson

Dear Jeff,

I heard the unfortunate news of the dismissal of Warehouse Director Astria Suparak and the cancelation of the exhibition "Keeping It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men." I write this letter in support of Astria Suparak in her position as Director of the Warehouse Gallery.

I am a new faculty at Syracuse University. When I began looking at university positions, the Syracuse University position stood out for a number of reasons. One was that Astria Suparak was employed as a curator in the Syracuse area. Her reputation preceded her. Knowing that she would bring high quality, cutting edge artwork to central New York, aided in my feeling that this was an artistic community I wanted to join.

I have also been impressed with the variety of artists Astria has brought to the exhibitions. I teach in the Fiber/Material Studies program within the Department of Art and seek opportunities for my students to explore the overlaps between what they are doing and other disciplines. With each of her programs Astria has incorporated artists from different disciplines: electronic art, fiber art, video, photography, bio art, to name a few. By showing all of these kinds of artwork side by side, the exhibitions stress an interdisciplinary approach to thinking about art -- which I believe is extremely important for the growth of students and for breaking down barriers between and stereotypes about artistic disciplines. Astria is also the first and only curator at SU who has contacted me in regards to the educational potential of exhibitions curated at SU. She is pioneering connections within our community.

In addition, the exhibits bring current topics that are relevant and challenging into a space allowing for discussion, reflection and inspiration. As an instructor, I was looking forward to the exhibition of the Yes Men. Their work reveals the potency of art to affect change in the world. I had intended to use the exhibition as first-hand experience for Fiber students of artists who use intelligence, perseverance and a variety of media (costume, performance, electronic media, sculpture) to affect change in ways they are passionate about.

In closing, I view Astria Suparak is an asset to the artistic community of central New York and believe it will be a detriment to the community if she leaves.


Olivia Robinson
Assistant Professor
Fiber/Material Studies
Department of Art
School of Art and Design
Syracuse University

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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.