The participating artists in Action Verbs > Action Words are boycotting PAFA’s 119th Annual Student Exhibition. These recent graduate students condemn the recent actions and words that have come from the institution’s current administration. The administration and Board of Trustees have failed to adequately respond to our demand letter. Instead, they continue to hide behind ineffective “listening sessions” where students are asked to perform emotional labor in perpetuity. These meetings do not absolve the institution of making immediate, real and lasting systemic change. Without these necessary changes, PAFA perpetuates a toxic environment that is not safe for nor supportive of our BIPOC community. It is our moral obligation to no longer contextualize our work within this institution – an institution that: refuses to publicly support the defunding of the police; perpetuates and profits from white supremacy; and, therefore, demonstrates a lack of true solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and human rights crisis.
Where one shows their artwork is equally important to the work itself. Therefore, we are deeply grateful for the swift solidarity and support from Philadelphia’s AUTOMAT, Grizzly Grizzly, Practice and Pink Noise Projects. Upon hearing about the boycott, these artist-run galleries immediately reached out to donate their spaces. Their actions exemplify the kind of arts community we hope to foster – wherein being resolute in one’s morals will always be stronger than the spineless, antiquated, financially-motivated agenda of any institution. As PAFA continues to fail to meet the essential changes that this moment demands it contributes to its own irrelevance.