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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Department of Visual Arts

The Department of Visual Arts at UC San Diego is a home for artists, scholars, staff, students, audiences and those who embrace, embody, and nurture an expansive and critical vision of art. We believe that art as a practice generates, clarifies, expands and shares human experience and should not be a matter of luxury and privilege.

The Department of Visual Arts welcomes radical and open-ended exploration and is eager to seek out identities and practices yet unnamed.

We recognize and seek to correct past and ongoing exclusionary and discriminatory attitudes and processes in our department’s history, art making, education, and the University of California, San Diego.

After a call by graduate students and faculty to address anti-Black racism within the department and university, we created this web page to share resources and archive our department’s commitment to create a climate in which BIPOC, disabled, and LGBTQIA+ faculty, staff and students can thrive and be supported, and are able to pursue career advancement, creativity and education in a professional, equitable and safe environment.

How did we get here?

Students in the Department of Visual Arts raised critical concerns in June 2020 in the wake of the police killing of George Perry Floyd Jr. on May 25, 2020, as well as the murders of Ahmaud Arbery in February, Breonna Taylor in March, Tony McDade in May and David McAtee in June. 

Students and faculty challenged the Department to live up to its statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by pursuing individual and structural change to eradicate anti-Black racism, by acknowledging the department’s systemic racism in the past, and by engaging actively to change it in the present.

This led to the co-creation of Art of Change, a small group of graduate students and faculty, who focused on developing responses to these critical concerns during summer 2020. Art of Change produced a shared list of readings on art and systemic racism (which included White Walling by Aruna D’Souza and The Undercommons by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney), and worked to make class syllabi more diverse and inclusive.

In Fall 2020, departmental gatherings were held to consider the readings and have focused dialogue on how to become anti-racist and support pro-Black teaching and art creation spaces. This was then formalized as the Department’s 2020-21 Speakers Series (see Reading and Lecture Series below), as well as a group study class in Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Spring 2021 that used the art and scholarship presented in the Speaker Series to continue to expand this dialogue and the establishment of departmental commitments.

What is EDI for the Department of Visual Arts?

“Diversity can thus function as a containment strategy.” – Sara Ahmed,  On Being Included: Racism and Diversity In Institutional Life (Duke University Press 2012)

The terms ‘diversity,’ ‘equity,’ and ‘inclusion,’ are often bound to the questions of visibility. With its history of conceptual art production and consistent interrogation of the visual, the Department of Visual Arts is in a unique position to expand these terms. Who is seeing? How are they seeing? Who is not seeing? How are they made invisible? The Department’s research methods and practices can offer specific ways to frame and un-frame EDI beyond only establishing institutional optics and containment policies.

The Department of Visual Arts is focused on questioning what art can be considered important, who can create art and what art can be made. The core of EDI for our program is to build an infrastructure of support and care for all those who have been kept in the social periphery of art historically and currently.


We commit and understand that it is outcomes, not personal or group intent, that matter.

We commit to strategizing to support art practices, scholarly, social and political actions amongst people with disabilities, Black, Indigenous, Chicanix, Latinx, AAPI, People of Color, Jewish and LGBTQIA+ and all other marginalized communities on campus and the wider UC system.

We commit to co-building and expanding curricula and spaces in the department that meet the health, aesthetic, creative and critical needs of marginalized communities and students, faculty, and staff. We commit to recognize and act to meet graduate student demands, concerns, and recommended changes in teaching practices.

We commit to a process of self-critique and examination toward creating a material and structural plan to address our own need for growth in anti-Black art practices, teaching, and studies.

We commit to organize as a department on focusing on art practices, art history and theory that consider issues of Abolition, Anti-Imperial, Anti-Racist, and Decolonial Action.

We commit to pressure the UC San Diego administration to address and denounce continued systemic racism and white supremacist violence on campus, San Diego, the Mexico/U.S border, California, the U.S. and the planet.

We commit to advocate for more targeted and expedient ways to recruit, retain, and ensure economic and social resources for Black, Indigenous, Chicanix, Latinx, AAPI, People of Color, Jewish and LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and all other marginalized communities, students, staff, and faculty in the department and across all divisions at UC San Diego. We commit to greater accountability and rigor in the application of the Department’s diversity statement in graduate admissions. Decisions in graduate admissions should be made with the express goal of shaping a more equitable, diverse and inclusive community for each cohort in the graduate program.

Actions and Outcomes

“Racist policies are defined as any policy that leads to racial inequity. And so, for me, racial language in the policy doesn’t matter, the intent of the policymaker doesn’t matter, even the consciousness of the policymaker, that it’s going to lead to inequity, doesn’t matter. It’s all about the fundamental outcome.” – How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi 

Here is a selection of action-oriented responses that the Department of Visual Art has taken in response to a faculty letter for direct change:

  1. This year, the Visual Arts Department has enlisted transformative justice mediators to facilitate internal discussion addressing BIPOC concerns. Our faculty and staff had 3 meetings during AY 20/2021 moderated by the National Conflict Resource Center (NCRC),The UCSD Office for Equity Diversity and Inclusion and the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimation (OPHD). These mediated sessions aim to address anti-Black racism, bias and sexism in the Department’s history and in the contemporary moment.
  2. The Department of Visual Arts has developed and distributed departmental procedures to all (permanent and temporary) department faculty, staff, and students for addressing harassment, bias, and discrimination. These procedures include direct lines of communication to the University’s Title IX Officer; and the development and dissemination of a clear timeline for action and mechanism of accountability for faculty, staff, and students in lieu of blanket solidarity statements and performative diversions.
    The document, entitled Visual Arts and Campus Procedures for Addressing Harassment, Bias and Discrimination, and Anti-Racism Resources has been distributed and will be reconsidered and redistributed annually.
  3. The Department of Visual Arts scheduled forums of conversations, lectures, conferences, discussions, and collective research on anti-Blackness, racism, and sexism among faculty and students.
    The 2020-2021 remote speaker series is accompanied by a year-long Graduate studies group study VIS 298, led by Grad Program Directors. These conversations, reading groups and workshops are led by faculty and graduate students.
  4. We have worked to create documentation and accountability structures that archive the conversations and efforts that have been made and pave the way for continued action and reflection.

How to Report

We encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed bias, harassment or discrimination in the Department to notify the Chair or the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) immediately, through e-mail, phone message or meeting.

If you are uncomfortable approaching the Chair, or any other Departmental faculty or staff with your concerns, you can also approach the Division of Arts and Humanities directly: 

We will make every effort to respond as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. We will provide available resources and assist with any subsequent steps. All conversations will be 100% confidential unless agreed otherwise.

Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination (OPHD) and Title IX

OPHD provides assistance to students, faculty and staff regarding reports of bias, harassment and discrimination. OPHD is the Title IX office at UC San Diego. It is responsible for receiving and conducting the administrative investigation of all reports of sex offenses, sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation filed on campus and is available to discuss options, provide support, explain University policies and procedures, and provide education on relevant issues. The OPHD investigation is not a criminal procedure.

Any person may make a report, including anonymously, to OPHD. Reports of suspected bias incidents, alleged sexual violence or sexual harassment to OPHD may be made in any of the following ways:

  • Online — OPHD Web Form (Available at any time)
  • Email — Send a report to (Available at any time)
  • By Phone — (858) 534-8298

Learn more about reporting bias, harassment and discrimination and OPHD here

Additional Resources in Visual Arts Summary Document

In January 2021 the department created the “Visual Arts and Campus Procedures for Addressing Harassment, Bias and Discrimination, and Anti-Racism Resources” document, viewable here.

Division of Arts and Humanities Summary Document

The UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities also created a one-page listing of campus resources for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion issues. Viewable here, this page lists UC San Diego core policies and principles, ant-racism, harassment, and mediation resources, and whistleblower policies.

Anti-Racism Resources

UC San Diego Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)

The UC San Diego-wide Office for EDI has put together a page of anti-racism resources to support discussions with students, colleagues and teams regarding racism. Viewable here, this page includes key terminology, news, videos, podcasts, research and more.

UC San Diego Library

The UC San Diego Library Diversity and Inclusion Committee, with contributions from other units across the library, put together a Libguide on anti-racism resources. Viewable here, the guide is compiled to flow from educating users to the topics of racism and anti-racism, taking a deeper dive into details and exploration of the scholarship, delivering educational resources to use in the classroom or for self-education, and then to build sustained and actionable practices for individuals and institutions

Student & Faculty Organizing on Campus

Campus Community Centers

The centers are a place of belonging where all students, staff and faculty can find community, explore social justice issues, gain leadership skills, engage in open dialogue and take part in educational and social activities.

Readings & Lecture Series

VIS 298: Art of Change in the Visual Arts: Theories and Practices

Art of Change in the Visual Arts: Theories and Practices is made up of two parts: a guest lecture series that is open to the public and a group study (VIS 298) that is closed to UC San Diego Visual Arts graduate students and faculty. In the group study, participants read texts selected by students, faculty, and guest lecturers and explore how they can be applied to the structure of the department itself.

With permission of the speakers, select public guest lectures remain viewable on the Department’s YouTube page.


Session 1: Remote Guest Lecture by Troy Chew

Troy Chew explores the legacy of the African Diaspora and its reverberations throughout American culture. His work looks methodically at systems of coded communication and how this is translated and mistranslated both within the Diaspora and the mainstream.

Session 2: Remote Guest Lecture by Jillian Hernandez

Jillian Hernandez's areas of expertise include contemporary art and visual culture, girlhood, and Black and Latinx gender and sexual politics. Her work is inspired by Women on the Rise!, a project she founded in Miami, Florida in 2004 that engaged thousands of Black and Latina girls in critical dialogues about identity through feminist art.

Session 3: Remote Guest Lecture by Patrick Martinez

Patrick Martinez maintains a diverse practice that includes mixed media landscape paintings, neon sign pieces, cake paintings, and his Pee Chee series of appropriative works. These various formats evoke place and socio-economic position, memorialize leaders and activists, and document the threats posed to black and brown youth by law enforcement.


Session 1: Remote Guest Lecture by Dewey Crumpler 

Dewey Crumpler examines issues of globalization and cultural co-modification through the integration of digital imagery, video and traditional painting techniques.

Session 2: Remote Guest Lecture by Beatriz Cortez 

Beatriz Cortez is an LA-based multidisciplinary artist whose work explores simultaneity, life in different temporalities and versions of modernity, memory and loss in the aftermath of war and the experience of migration, and in relation to imagining possible futures.

Sessions 3 & 4: Reading Group & Workshop on Nicole R. Fleetwood’s Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (2020) and Remote Guest Lecture by Nicole Fleetwood

Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood is a writer, curator, and professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author of Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (2020) and the curator of the exhibition of the same name at MoMA PS1.

Session 5: Reading Group & Workshop with Daniel Marcus on COMMONING THE MUSEUM? 

Daniel Marcus is a curator and historian whose research, writing, and curatorial projects explore the resonance between art and social histories, with an emphasis on the politics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.

Session 6: Remote Guest Lecture by Chris Vargas

Chris E. Vargas is a video maker and interdisciplinary artist currently based in Bellingham, WA. His work deploys humor and performance in conjunction with mainstream idioms to explore the complex ways that queer and trans people negotiate spaces for themselves within historical and institutional memory and popular culture.

Session 7: Remote Guest Lecture by Postcommodity 

Postcommodity’s art functions as a shared Indigenous lens and voice to engage the assaultive manifestations of the global market and its supporting institutions, public perceptions, beliefs, and individual actions that comprise the ever-expanding, multinational, multiracial and multiethnic colonizing force that is defining the 21st Century through ever increasing velocities and complex forms of violence.

FALL 2020

Session 1: Reading Group & Workshop on Aruna D'Souza’s Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts (2018)

Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts lays bare how the art world―no less than the country at large―has persistently struggled with the politics of race, and the ways this struggle has influenced how museums, curators and artists wrestle with notions of free speech and the specter of censorship.

Sessions 2 & 3: Reading Group & Workshop on the work of Wu Tsang and Remote Guest Lecture by Wu Tsang

Wu Tsang is a filmmaker and performance artist who combines documentary and narrative techniques with fantastical detours into the imaginary in works that explore hidden histories, marginalized narratives, and the act of performing itself. 

Sessions 4 & 5: Reading Group & Workshop on the work of Salome Asega and Remote Guest Lecture by Salome Asega

Salome Asega is an artist and researcher whose practice celebrates dissensus and multivocality; she is the co-host of speculative talk show Hyperorpia: 20/30 Vision on bel-air radio, and a director of POWRPLNT, a digital art collaboratory in Bushwick.

Session 6: Russell Remote Guest Lecture by Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Nigerian-born, LA-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby is known for her mixed media paintings that include photo transfers and textiles of her home country. Drawing from her experience as a Nigerian woman living in the United States, Crosby places black and brown people at the center of her work to show the syncretism of both cultures. The annual Russell Lecture is presented in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.

Session 7: Reading Group & Workshop on Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (2013)

In the Undercommons, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney draw on the theory and practice of the Black radical tradition as it supports, inspires, and extends contemporary social and political thought and aesthetic critique.

Session 8 & 9: Reading Group & Workshop on Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2019) and Remote Guest Conversation with Saidiya Hartman

Professor Saidiya Hartman is a literary scholar and cultural historian. Her major fields of interest are African American and American literature and cultural history, slavery, law and literature, and performance studies.This conversation focussed on Hartman’s most recent book, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (2019), which reinvents narratives of early twentieth-century Black female subjectivity in the wake of the Great Migration in the United States.

Resources from the School of Arts & Humanities