Collaborating with CAA: Committee on Diversity Practice’s Resource Directory

As a classroom tool, the CAA Committee on Diversity Practice’s Resource Directory provides an innovative way to teach students about the use of primary source documents and online image databases. Recently in Mariola’s introduction to art course, “Reading Images,” students were required to group objects together that shared a similar style. The listing of images and documents of art and culture available in the Resource Directory can offer a starting point for students without any background in art history to discover online databases and collections that could be instrumental in their own research. The Directory reflects the strengths of those who have contributed to it, but as a result areas in need of input and collaboration remain weaker and less visible. For example, Staci Gem Scheiwiller provided an extensive list of resources on Middle Eastern and Islamic Arts, while the Asian Art category needs attention and improvement with the help of new collaborators.

These collaborations are at the core of the Resource Directory, as this is an open-ended, open-access digital repository. In our age of fluctuating digital networks of knowledge, the established history of this initiative warrants ongoing curation. This Resource Directory is the result of a specific moment when multicultural studies and digital technologies were emerging as dual disciplines. In 1995, at the organization’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas CAA’s Committee on Cultural Diversity and the Education Committee collaborated on a panel, “Toward a Culturally Inclusive Art Community and Art History,” which was chaired by Michi Itami and Moira Roth and featured three panelists, Sutapa Biswas, Theresa Harlan, and Lucy R. Lippard.

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[Nancy Macko. “Queen is Mother,” “Snake Goddess,” and “Disappear” from Honey Teachings: In the Mother Tongue of the Bees (2015)]

The result of that session was a bibliography for a culturally inclusive art history, which is the founding document of the current Resource Directory. The artists and art historians who initially contributed to this project (and whose names follow each entry) were: Sutapa Biswas, Lynette Bosch, William Charland, Kenneth Sean Golden, Theresa Harlan, Michi Itami, Mame Jackson, Arturo Lindsay, Lucy R. Lippard, Nancy Macko, Moira Roth, W. Jackson Rushing, and Victor Alejandro Sorrell. Introducing students to the history of the Directory also offers wonderful opportunities to teach the art historiography of diversity studies.

Over the past twenty years, the initial bibliography has grown into a rich resource that is practical for the integration of diversity into the fine arts and art history pedagogies. The CDP Resource Directory currently consists of three sections that support classroom activities and curricula, contain images and documents of art and culture, and provide lesson plans, syllabi, and recommended practices.

The Directory also seeks to provide sample syllabi on teaching diversity in the classroom. CDP welcomes submissions for syllabi that address diversity from multiple areas of specialization. The collection, archiving, and display of sample teaching documents would establish CAA as an essential site for education, community, and history. In this way, the CAA website becomes integral to the lives of its members beyond an annual weekend conference, and moves into the classroom as an instructional tool for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. In order to grow this open-access resource and make it more visible and useful to instructors across various visual disciplines, the committee is actively encouraging submissions that can be sent via this link.

AHTR has also become a significant site dedicated to expanding the subjects of art history through the promotion of new forms of pedagogy, reflections on classroom experiences, and challenges to the discipline. CAA similarly recognizes the need to expand, diversify and internationalize the arts. A close collaboration between these two groups could propel the research and education of the arts into the 21st century, including a much more inclusive community of professionals and an open access network of knowledge gathering, production and analysis.

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