June 14, 2023
Dear Members of the Yale Community,
I write to announce the formation of the Yale Committee for Art Recognizing Enslavement (CARE). The committee will work with members of the campus and New Haven communities to commission works of art and related programming to address Yale’s historical roles and associations with slavery and the slave trade as well as the legacy of that history. Inclusive programming that fosters reflection, remembrance, discussion, learning, and healing will be essential for each project. The committee will solicit input widely from across the university and its home city to ensure that these artistic interventions, in various locations, will make a productive and meaningful difference in our shared communities.
Since October 2020, the Yale and Slavery Working Group, chaired by Sterling Professor of History David Blight, has been studying Yale’s historical roles and associations with slavery, the slave trade, and abolition. Members of the group have been sharing their progress regularly through online events, and the university has established initiatives in response to the findings.
More remains to be done, and as part of this work, the Committee on Art in Public Spaces (CAPS) studied projects undertaken by other universities to honor the lives of the enslaved through physical reminders and related programming. Members of CAPS gathered insights from the architects and leaders of those projects, sought guidance from experts in the New Haven community, and made recommendations to me based on their findings. CAPS recommended prioritizing the creation of an open and inclusive process that leads to an ongoing commitment to active remembering, reflection, and healing. Moreover, it stressed the importance of implementing thoughtful, sustained, collective educational programs that involve a broad cross-section of the campus and local community. I am grateful to members of CAPS for their thoughtful work and formed CARE based on their recommendations.
CARE will be co-chaired by Kymberly Pinder, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the School of Art and professor of art and art history; Adriane Jefferson, director of arts and cultural affairs for the City of New Haven; Michael Morand, director for community engagement for the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library; and Charles Warner Jr., district behavior specialist for New Haven Public Schools and member of the Board of Directors of the Amistad Committee. Members of CARE include Yale faculty and staff and colleagues from New Haven:
- Kwadwo Adae, artist from the New Haven community
- Kevin Beasley, sculptor and alumnus of Yale School of Art
- Crystal Feimster, associate professor in the departments of African American Studies and History and the programs of American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- Roderick Ferguson, William Robertson Coe Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and professor of American Studies
- Chevelle Irvin, culinary support center logistics team lead for Yale Hospitality
- Matthew Makomenaw, assistant dean of Yale College and director of the Native American Cultural Center
- Keely Orgeman, Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery
- Alan Plattus, professor of Architecture at the Yale School of Architecture
- James Rawlings, chief executive officer and president for Michelle’s House Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, former president of the Greater New Haven Branch of the NAACP, and former trustee of the National Board of the NAACP
- Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky, executive director of the New Haven Museum
In the fall semester, I will ask student government groups to nominate students to be part of the committee.
If you would like to share with the committee and me your thoughts on art and programming that address Yale’s historical roles and associations with slavery and the slave trade, I encourage you to use this webform. We look forward to learning from your recommendations and perspectives and to updating you about the committee’s work.
With best regards,
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology