STAYING IN THE CONVERSATION: UNDENIABLE, TELLING, FRONT-BURNER IMPORTANT
Even without demographic research, it is safe to say CAN Journal has an overwhelmingly white readership. Collective Arts Network is an organization started by white people, and while our board of directors and membership of organizations are increasingly diverse, there is a lot of inertia in the region’s racial dynamic. For someone familiar with the art scene in Cleveland, that is certainly no surprise, despite the fact that Cleveland’s population is mostly Black and extremely diverse. Our art sector has its legacy institutions—the oldest and biggest ones—but it also has this other legacy of segregation and inequity.
That dynamic has played out across decades in the leadership and curatorial staffs of our museums and galleries. Recent progress on that front—and there surely has been some—shows how far we still have to come before we have anything like equity. Later in these pages, you’ll find Vince Robinson’s review of Imagine Otherwise, an exhibit presented in three venues by moCa Cleveland and organized by LaTanya Autry. Ms. Autry was the Gund Foundation Curator-in-Residence at moCa. She was also the first Black, on-staff curator in the organization’s 52-year history.
Vince is among the several Black and LatinX writers who have been contributing to CAN in recent years. I am grateful to work with each of them. Vince been writing for CAN Blog since shortly after we met at a Neighbor Up session a few years ago. He has written not simply about exhibits (though he has done that), but about the decisions that inform them. For example, his main point in reviewing Cleveland Museum of Art’s excellent exhibit Proof: Photography in the Era of the Contact Sheet was that the Black experience was minimally represented in the images, and that there were in fact no Black photographers in the show. It was a fascinating show, but Vince’s point was undeniable, telling, and front-burner important.
CAN Journal’s mostly white readership is the most important reason for this magazine to publish voices of People of Color—not only to include non-white artists as subjects, but to engage and include writers from those communities. Cleveland’s art scene has had almost none of this, historically. Truly, almost none.
At the moment of CAN’s creation, we knew providing a platform for curators, artists, and writers would give an important boost to the art sector in Northeast Ohio. We didn’t know how that would apply to the conversation about race.
This issue of CAN Journal marks the beginning of our tenth year. On these pages you will find Brittany Hudak’s cover story: an interview with Lauren Pearce on the occasion of her current and upcoming national and international solo shows. You’ll find Jimi Izrael’s interview with David Ramsey, who operates two galleries in support of Black and Brown artists: Deep Roots Experience, and Wood and Green. Douglas Max Utter writes about the Sculpture Center’s upcoming, city-wide augmented reality exhibit Crossroads, curated by Robin Robinson. Amanda King interviews Mordecai Cargill, co-founder of ThirdSpace Action Lab. There’s more. You’ll find it. As with every issue, we hope this one helps our readers connect with something they did not previously know about.
Ten years is a milestone we never could have imagined in 2012, when 28 art organizations pooled resources to begin publishing this quarterly magazine. The fact that we’re still doing that is a reason to celebrate the success of collective effort. So in the next year, we’re going to reflect on some of what has happened in that time. We’ll look in the mirror, mine our archives, and look forward, too. When we actually reach ten years next Spring, we’re going to have a party. And after that we’ll kick off our second decade by presenting the second CAN Triennial. Stay tuned. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing you.
Editor / Publisher