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The Future of Higher Education

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With Deborah Obalil, Kymberly N. Pinder, Luciana Scrutchen, Emily Hanako Momohara

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In the spring of 2020, the emerging global health crisis prompted a reconsideration of all institutions, including those in higher education. Art schools, in particular, were forced to rethink their reliance on hands-on classes, specialized equipment, in-person mentorship, and tuition dollars. Not surprisingly, creative institutions and artist professors responded with lightning speed and inspiring creativity when it came to curricular challenges. The pandemic also highlighted long-standing racial inequities throughout society, including BIPOC underrepresentation in higher education’s senior leadership. Structural change is less swift. Recognizing an opening in the current environment to act in ways not previously prioritized, Deborah Obalil, President and Executive Director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), along with several colleagues in leadership at AICAD institutions, quickly and quietly initiated a year-long program (which has since expanded) called the BIPOC Academic Leadership Institute. Ninety-four participants, supported by the institutions where they work, joined in the inaugural year for education, community, and transparency around the system they are working to change from within.

Please join Deborah Obalil in conversation with a program mentor, Kymberly N. Pinder, President of Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and program participants Luciana Scrutchen, Assistant Professor at Parsons, and Emily Hanako Momohara, Associate Professor of Art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. They will discuss what the first year of the BIPOC Academic Leadership Institute entailed, what it taught them, the challenges encountered, and what the hiring of BIPOC Deans, Provosts, and Presidents could do in the fight for equity in the arts. If decision makers and policymakers at colleges and universities embody a broader range of experience, will that result in more inclusive policy changes, sensitive to an expansive group of potential artists, designers, and cultural producers? How would those leaders impact governance, admissions, budgets, curriculum, and more? Could a change in academic gatekeepers translate to greater diversity in the art world as a whole?

Our education system has an undeniable impact on everything we do in the arts, whether we attended an art program or not. Everyone in the art world from current students and academics to artists, designers, arts administrators, and art historians are encouraged to join this conversation.


Suggested Ticket Price: $10

Pay-What-You-Can Option: Pay Less or Pay More

Free to Art World Learning Subscribers and Students at Subscribing Schools. Learn more about Art World Learning HERE.

Free for Art World Conference Members. Learn more HERE.

This program is a part of The Future Of… Series: Beyond Rhetoric, Recognizing Action In The Art World presented by Art World Conference. AWC hosts a series of actionable, inclusive workshops and events, both in-person and online, focused on business and financial health to build and sustain careers in the arts.

This series, and its pay-what-you-can option, is made possible by the generous support of The West Collection. Additional support provided by Francis J. Greenburger.


Participant Bios:

Deborah Obalil has over 20 years experience as a leader in the national arts and culture industry. She became Executive Director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) in June 2012, and then President in 2015. Prior to AICAD, she operated a boutique arts management consulting firm, Obalil & Associates. The firm provided consultation and facilitation in strategic business planning, marketing research and planning, and board development for non-profit arts organizations, independent artists of all disciplines, and creative for-profit ventures. She also served as Executive Director of the Alliance of Artists Communities and Director of the Arts Marketing Center & Research at the Arts & Business Council of Chicago. www.aicad.org

Dr. Kymberly N. Pinder is the Acting President of Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her career in higher education spans more than 25 years, in administrative and faculty roles with the University of New Mexico (UNM), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Middlebury College, among other institutions. She also served as the dean of the College of Fine Arts at UNM. As a scholar and a curator, Dr. Pinder teaches, writes, and lectures on representations of religion, history, and race in American Art, and has edited and authored multiple books on the subject, including Race-ing Art History (2002) and Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago (2016). Her curatorial projects include "Necessary Force: Art of the Police State" and "Spreading the Gospel: Graffiti and the Public Space as Canvas." As a mural scholar, Dr. Pinder has always been committed to community engagement and interdisciplinary initiatives and currently serves as a Boston Public Art Commission member. Massart.edu / @massartboston

Luciana Scrutchen, Assistant Professor of Fashion, is the Associate Dean of Parsons School of Fashion and has twenty years of service at The New School University. Scrutchen received her MFA in Design & Technology from Parsons School of Design and BFA in Weaving & Textiles from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has been invited to teach master classes in Miami, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic, as well as guest lecture in Hangzhou and Nanjing, China. Her professional career as a textile designer and technology coach has included working with clientele from many notable fashion brands. Scrutchen has participated in a number of peer-reviewed publications and presentations, including: “Textiles as Art, Culture, and Science: Discovery of the Ephemeral and Perennial Imprints Through Modeled Ecosystems” for the Anywhere Elsewhere online Journal; “The Fickleness of Interweaving Digital and Studio Practice” for DEL Conference in London; and “Engaging with Earth’s Palettes: Painting with Microbes” at the Shibori Symposium in Oaxaca, Mexico, with co-presenter Katayoun Chamay of The New School.

Emily Hanako Momohara was born in Seattle, Washington. She currently lives and works in Cincinnati, where she is Associate Professor of Art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and heads the photography major. Her work centers around issues of heritage, multiculturalism, immigration, and social justice. Momohara has exhibited nationally, most notably at the Japanese American National Museum in a two-person show titled Sugar/Islands. She has been a visiting artist at several residency programs including the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Headlands Center for the Arts, Fine Arts Work Center, and Red Gate Gallery Beijing. In 2015, her work was included in the Chongqing Photography and Video Biennial. Momohara has created socially-driven billboards for For Freedoms and United Photo Industries. She earned her BFA in Photography and BA in Art History from the University of Washington. Her MFA is in Expanded Media from the University of Kansas. Ehmomohara.com / @ehmomohara

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