Black Lives Matter Action Statement

The Riverside Art Museum (RAM) is committed to confronting anti-Blackness and systemic racism. As we prepare to reopen the museum, we are taking a deep look at how our mission-driven work can contribute to creating a more just and equitable world; building community through the arts is a pledge we make in our mission statement. 

We have heard from community members, artists, trustees, volunteers, and staff about ways we can further this work. We are steadfast to accomplish the following:

  • Reconvene our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Task Force comprised of museum trustees, staff, and community members to hear from Black, Latino, People of Color, and other underrepresented artists, community leaders, and organizations we have worked with in the past to ask for and listen to their insights and expertise to help create actionable next steps; in recent years, this task force outlined initiatives such as our Visual Voice exhibition as part of the Association of African American Museums Conference in Riverside;

  • Explore with the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California a year-long partnership to elevate the conversation about structural racism through collaborative exhibitions and programs, including working with curator Lisa Henry to bring Sheila Pree Bright’s #1960 Now exhibition to RAM in Fall 2020;

  • Dive deep during our board-staff Strategic Planning and Values workshops to discuss changes that need to be made across the organization from staff and board diversity to how exhibitions are conceptualized and scheduled, to how we further equitable art education initiatives, to who we listen to regarding programming so more people in our community have a place to share their stories and experiences; and to

  • Expedite the timeline for recruiting a subject-matter expert curator for The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture to help guide us in these initiatives.

On Saturday, July 4, 2020, we fully open to the public with free admission thanks to a donation from a local private foundation. This foundation in particular wants the community to see our two current exhibitions, which opened February 1, 2020, but were cut short by our mandated closure:

  • Sandra Rowe | Mother Wit: For nearly fifty years, Sandra Rowe’s work has been impossible to categorize. With her unflinching views of relationships, race, and gender, she pokes and prods, asking questions that are difficult to answer and which often go unspoken aloud. Figures are often stripped of gender and race yet, somehow, more deeply embody the core of the human experience. Rowe’s long overdue retrospective, Mother Wit, explores the full range and depth of Rowe’s artistic expression.

  • Brenna Youngblood | Lavender Rainbow: Riverside native Brenna Youngblood's work explores issues of African American identity and representation and often references historically significant moments and organizations in African American history. Youngblood has been the recipient of the 2015 Seattle Art Museum Gwendolyn Knight/Jacob Lawrence Prize, the 2014 The Hermitage Artist Retreat, Englewood, FL, and the 2012 Los Angeles County Museum of Art Young Talent Award/AHAN Award.    

The Riverside Art Museum staff and board have an obligation and duty as stewards of a public-serving organization, as well as deep-seated personal reasons, to not only want to tackle anti-Blackness, structural racism, and issues around diversity, inclusion, access, and equity, but are firmly committed to doing the necessary hard, uncomfortable work to see it through.

 

Michelle Ouellette

RAM Board President

 

Drew Oberjuerge

RAM Executive Director