Since I haven't enjoyed the offerings at the Miller in the longest time, and also suspect that Pittsburgh's main art venues are more artworld-centric than engaged with the Western PA community, I can't say that this development in itself alarms me. Curators come through and burnish their resumes all the time, and it seems like Ms. Suparak has enjoyed a fairly long stint that will look good on her CV. At any rate, I wish her the best. However, any change can be problematic, and the sounds coming out of CMU are not at all reassuring. Pitt's University Gallery once offered frequent glimpses into the unusual and avant-garde, but has in recent years been forced by budget considerations to make do on a lot less. CMU's stated intentions in this case are even more disconcerting; it seems like they actively want to pull out of the art scene altogether and turn inward, into a campus-only venue. That cannot be a good thing.
Everyone associated with the CMA, from folks on the payroll to the community at large, should be outraged, not only by the museum's unilateral action of gutting adult education, but by the incoherent and intelligence-insulting public statements issued by the CMA. What is horrifying is that the people in charge don't seem to have even a coherent philosophy of art and education. They are going to "rethink" the program by killing it? They will be "freed up" to "reenvision" their offerings without even soliciting the ideas of the instructors and students who have supported the program over the years? Perfecting the artistic vision of the public is not necessarily the best way to fulfill the museum's mission of perfecting the artistic vision of the public? They are going to "replace" workshops with more already-existing lectures? (I happen to both lecture on art history and instruct hands-on workshops; I know the difference, and the same cognitive outcomes cannot be achieved with a lecture as with the experience of drawing in the galleries.) Their gobbledygook doesn't even rise to the level of creative Orwellian double-speak, and these are the people to whom have been entrusted the administration of our museum. These people do not need more office space; they need careers in some different line of work.
Marilyn Russell's statement that the museum's mission is about training visitors to worship their sacred relics more deeply, not to enhance the public's creative perception, has got to be the most dumbfoundingly ass-backwards remark I've ever heard from someone working in the humanities. The whole purpose of the museum and the display of those works is to perfect the public's artistic vision. Clearly, the wrong people were fired.
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