Thursday, December 6, 2007

Astria Suparak

6 December 2007

Dear All,

To everyone who has expressed support for my curatorial and community work, I offer my heartfelt gratitude. During the past three months I've received an abundance of emails and phone calls, which I deeply appreciate, from artists, organizers, business owners, and educators who I have worked with over the last decade and across many cities. It's an honor to receive such strong advocacy and encouragement from fellow curators and institutions that I admire, and I'm delighted that my exhibitions, events, and screenings have been memorable for so many. I never expected this wellspring of support.

I recognize that my situation has touched upon critical issues of creative and academic freedom, institutional transparency, effective civic engagement, and the support for emerging visions and artists. Below you'll find an update on the situation. Through this ordeal, I've thankfully gotten to know the brave residents of Syracuse who are committed to open discourse and social justice. Your collective passion, acuity, and clear articulation are phenomenal. You have given me hope and inspiration during an incredibly difficult time.

In addition to the over one hundred letters that have been posted at, I would like to acknowledge the thousands of others who have privately endorsed my reinstatement at The Warehouse Gallery and/or my hire in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University, and who have voiced disappointment over my dismissal. I appreciate the rallies and receptions organized on my behalf, as well as my appointment to the first Public Art Commission of the City of Syracuse, based on my involvement with Tomorrow's Neighborhoods Today, Th3 Citywide Art Night, Syracuse Experimental Film & Media Workshop, and the 40 Below Public Arts Task Force.

My chief goal as a citizen and as a curator is to enrich the communities in which I live and work, through engaging, exciting, and relevant creative work. I believe that the thousands of Warehouse Gallery visitors, the consistently positive exhibition reviews and attendant press, the invitations to tour exhibitions, and the ample enthusiastic viewer comments demonstrate my ability to fulfill that goal.

I'm unsure what the future holds for me, but I look forward to bringing new exhibitions and events to other spaces and locations, both here and elsewhere. Thanks to initiatives like the Syracuse Public Art Commission, Th3, Lipe Art Park, the Public Arts Task Force, and the Gear Factory; emergent small businesses like Roji Tea Lounge, Sugar Pearl, Second Story Books, and Funk'n Waffles; and collaborative, interdisciplinary arts organizations like Spark Contemporary Art Space, the Community Folk Art Center, Delavan Center, and The Redhouse, Syracuse is beginning to fulfill its promise as a rising cultural center. Regardless of whether the Connective Corridor delivers on its rhetoric about building bridges between University Hill and downtown, I am optimistic that the inspirited residents and students of Syracuse will take up the cause to make this city a better place to live – actually, they're already doing it!

Very truly yours,

Astria Suparak

- My work at the gallery and information on all of the artists that I exhibited were removed from the official Warehouse Gallery website, so I have archived them at


My situation with Syracuse University has been convoluted and confusing over the past few months. Contradictory reasons were given by Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Vice Chancellor Eric Spina, Dean Carole Brzozowski, Associate Dean Ann Clarke, and Jeffrey Hoone for my dismissal from The Warehouse Gallery as well as the withdrawal of an offer of a new position in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Here I've attempted to address the questions that people frequently ask.


• My personnel file contains no reason for layoff, no performance review, no complaints, and no warning.
• Syracuse University offered and then withdrew, within the same day, a consulting agreement for my Curator-in-Residence services in VPA (which would have been funded by the Chancellor's Initiatives).
• During my employment at SU, I had only one meeting with a Human Resources representative and Hoone, which seemed to indicate, along with the assignment of a new direct supervisor, a commitment to my work at the gallery for the next programming year.
• Hoone gave me 7 weeks to program one year's worth of exhibitions. When he laid me off, he effectively cancelled two years of programming plans.
• Hoone backtracked on his decision to cancel my Yes Men exhibition and attempted to continue the show without my involvement. The Yes Men, whose work focuses on corporate malpractice and social injustice, refused Hoone's turncoat overture to exhibit without me.
• Hoone stated that my programming was a reason for my dismissal (after weeks of claiming I was laid off for "organizational restructuring," and then for "confidential personnel issue"), although it is this same programming that was a major factor in my hire.
• Hoone asked for changes to nearly every exhibition I organized. For example, I was asked twice by Hoone to remove the word "feminist" from an exhibition title.

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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.