Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Art and Design

Man painting human eye on mural

Though the School of Art and Design has long considered itself a diverse, inclusive institution, the Black Lives Matter movement this summer served as a catalyst to urgently reexamine our diversity and inclusion efforts and to make some immediate changes to that end.

In June 2020, the school held a virtual diversity and inclusion town hall meeting which highlighted the voices of our faculty and students of color. It was very enlightening and emphasized the work that still needs to be done to make the School of Art and Design a more welcoming, representative community of students, faculty, and staff.

From this meeting, the School of Art and Design opened the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to anyone interested to be part of it and its numbers grew dramatically to include 20 dedicated and passionate staff, faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students who are actively working toward goals that will shift our teaching practices, curricula, and school culture to be anti-racist and decentralize whiteness.

Recent Diversity and Inclusion Accomplishments

SDSU School of Art + Design DI Initiative in the Media Sharing our Message with Local Media

Annie Buckley, director and professor at the SDSU School of Art and Design, SDSU’s Vice President for Faculty and Staff Diversity, Jennifer Imazeki, and Sabrina Davidson, student assistant/diversity and inclusion committee member, appeared recently on Cloudcast Media’s Drew Schlosberg’s Spotlight on the Community radio show to discuss the critical need to embrace and support inclusivity and diversity on college campuses. 

Murals on Campus

The School of Art and Design added two new murals to our Art North building in summer 2020 which are both in alignment with the school’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. Undergraduate Sabrina Davidson and alumna Avia Rose Ramm focused on themes of diversity, equality, and representation by depicting historical and contemporary issues and practitioners.

Amplify Artist Series

In alignment with our Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, the School of Art and Design launched a spring artist series, Amplify: Guest Artist Series, organized by professor Eva Struble. The series brings 12 notable artists and designers of color from various fields to our virtual learning platform. Presenters discussed their work, their process, and their experiences as artists of color making work and engaging communities. Presentations were free and open to the public.

Please email the School of Art and Design office at mara.parker@sdsu.edu to obtain Zoom links and passcodes.

Outreach to Broaden Student Diversity

The School of Art and Design believes representation matters. We created a new Outreach Program with diversity and inclusion at the core. This innovative outreach program is designed and led by a collaborative team of students, faculty, and staff. Initially, we are reaching out to Title I high schools and community colleges in our area to seek insight into what these students want to know, what would support them in going to college, and share experiences. We want to expand the University experience to students in our local community that might not feel, based on societal expectations and socioeconomic pressures, that this is their path.  Post-event surveys from the first workshops indicated that students and teachers found the forums to be very engaging and helpful. The School of Art and Design plans to expand its outreach efforts in 2021 and beyond to include additional Title I high schools and community colleges.

Equity for Committee Members

Equity is important to the values and process of the School of Art and Design. We recognize that institutional structures set up a situation where tenure-track and staff members were funded for DI committee work while lecturers and students were not. As an intervention, we sought outside funding to support all members in this vital work.

Student Workers

The School of Art + Design developed five new, paid student assistant positions that will run through the academic year. These positions, one undergraduate and four graduate students are supporting the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative and helping to launch a new Outreach program that is aimed at reaching local students in marginalized communities as well as first generation college students. 

Healing Art Workshops

As a part of the School of Art and Design Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, Prison Arts Collective will offer a series of workshops on art and healing in fall 2020 to inspire and support the full SDSU community and beyond during this difficult time.

SDSU School of Art and Design’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee continues to work towards achieving its goals. To read more about the school’s DI efforts, please see the Art+Design+DI Initiative 2020

The School of Art and Design is grateful to the Jack Webb and Joan Schlossman Fund for Art and Social Justice and the Michele Schlecht Visiting Artist Fund for supporting this initiative.