History of Art and Architecture

Our Commitment to Act (August 2020)

Black lives matter. There is no place for neutrality here: we condemn the brutality inflicted upon countless members of the Black community, and we condemn the racist policies and institutions that have enabled it.

Painful legacies of racist inequity and injustice are embedded in the fabric of the materials we study, the institutions we forge and inhabit, and the systems of knowledge in which we participate. Unacknowledged or unchallenged, these legacies harm us all. We commit to addressing the racism, past and present, within our disciplines and institutions, and to foregrounding the voices, contributions, and leadership of those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

The time for change is now. In August 2020, the full-time faculty of the Department of History of Art and Architecture committed to immediately advancing the following actions in order to begin to address long-standing injustices and inequities:

Educate Ourselves

  • Complete anti-racism training, and work with the university to identify further training opportunities in diversity, equity, and inclusion for the future.

Listen To and Support Our Students

  • Invite and welcome undergraduate and graduate students to monthly department meetings.

  • Establish clear and safe means by which students may report discrimination and bias incidents to the department and to the university.

  • Devote departmental funding to address inequities caused by the financial requirements of our courses and programs:

  • Minimize costs for materials and required activities in all of our courses and programs, with particular attention to students enrolled in architectural studio courses that carry an elevated financial burden;

  • Commit monetary undergraduate student research awards to foster opportunities for students to engage in anti-racist projects, and to help center BIPOC creators, designers, and scholars.

Promote Anti-Racist Research Models

  • Deliberately prioritize points of inquiry and research methodologies that have been erased or obscured by canon-based and Eurocentric models of the history of art and architecture. We will use our Constellations model to reinforce and boost such approaches.

Change How and What We Teach

  • Revise and expand our pedagogical approaches, course offerings, and curricula so that they are fully in accord with anti-racist principles. This involves both foregrounding BIPOC creators, designers, and scholars, and confronting the racist legacies of our discipline, the institutions we inhabit, and our practices.

Recruit and Retain Diverse Members of Our Community

  • Recruit, hire, mentor, and retain BIPOC faculty and staff.

  • Recruit, mentor, and retain BIPOC students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Join Collective Actions in Our Institution and Community

  • Actively support and contribute to institutional initiatives in diversity, equity, and inclusion at Pitt and in Pittsburgh:

  • Through the activities of the University Art Gallery (see the June 2020 statement from UAG Director Sylvia Rhor here);

  • By committing to the plan for action and supporting the efforts of the Design Justice Initiative at Pitt;

  • In our collaborations with Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh partners;

  • By offering departmental support and resources for efforts to undertake a school-wide cluster hire in Race, Representation, and Systemic Anti-Black Racism;

  • By taking part in a collaborative effort to adopt a formal statement that recognizes Indigenous Peoples as the traditional stewards of the land on which university buildings sit, including the Frick Fine Arts Building, and acknowledges the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

Steps have already been made to advance each of these priorities.