Dear Art Academy of Cincinnati students,

The last few months and most recently the last few days we have witnessed the full scope of racial tensions that have gripped the United States for centuries. The Art Academy of Cincinnati is making a statement to condemn the acts of the police officers in Minneapolis in the death of George Floyd, the shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, GA.   

Humanity should be outraged with these acts of terror. 

The Art Academy of Cincinnati stands for justice, truth, empathy, and the belief that life should be honored and respected. This miscarriage of justice and the handling of events that have evolved to represent a systemic problem that needs to be addressed locally, nationally, and globally. Our black students uniquely confront challenges that others do not face. We want our students to understand that the Art Academy of Cincinnati acknowledges that structural, systemic, historical, and intersecting forms of oppression require our ongoing attention, action, innovation, and leadership for positive change. The AAC is committed to protecting the rights of the diverse population of students of color understanding that their situation is uniquely theirs in the context of humanity and in the scope of higher education. More information can be found here as we continue to learn how to be successful moving forward in supporting all of our students:

In November of 2019, The Art Academy of Cincinnati established the Corrina Mehiel Center for Urban Impact in collaboration with Mel Chin’s S.O.U.R.C.E. STUDIO. This initiative will bring diverse woman artists to Cincinnati to work within the community of Cincinnati.  The first two Corrina Mehiel Fellows, Monique Muse Dodd and jackie sumell were scheduled to engage with the AAC and the city this Summer and Fall but have been delayed due to the events surrounding COVID 19. Updates will be forthcoming regarding their visits to Cincinnati.

The Art Academy of Cincinnati also is committing to establishing a committee that includes students, faculty, staff, alumni, board members, and OTR community members to begin to address pathways forward looking at many of the following:

*Implementing diversity and inclusion/sensitivity training for faculty/staff to help ensure that we all have adequate foundation to work from: This process is ongoing and is required every year.

*Surveying students, faculty, staff, board, and alumni for perspective and experiences. This survey will be sent in September of 2020 and will be completed at the start of every semester.

*Reaffirming or creating a mechanism for response/input to personal experiences on campus/class. This will be in place by the start of the Fall 2020 Semester.

*Reviewing/updating our vision, mission, operating principles, and codes of conduct to be sure they are comprehensive. This process will begin in September.

*Establish strategic partnerships with organizations in OTR/City. This process is ongoing. 

*Partnering with organizations to host conversations and discussions on the issues, opportunities, and necessary changes that underlie the systemic issues we see. This process is ongoing. 

*Adapting curriculum to include more inclusive thinking, or explicitly tackle these issues. This process will be addressed by the Academic Management Team.

*Investing in resources that enable peer mentorship and stress/anxiety services that address the unique challenges that confront our black students. This process will begin in September.

This is just the start of a conversation and we welcome your input as we move forward attempting to understand the tragic past and present systemic racism, and to navigate towards a better and more just future. 

Our thoughts are with the Floyd, Taylor, and Arbery families and of all persons of color that have been jeopardized through centuries of systemic racism. As the city of Cincinnati also engages in the conversation, we ask each of you to be safe, care for one another in this difficult time, and stay connected with us if you are in need of assistance.  

Much love,

Joe Girandola, President

Paige Williams, Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Tysonn Betts, Chair, Board of Trustees

Art Academy of Cincinnati

Artwork from our students and alum.