Melissa Gwyn submitted a proposal for a panel to participate in the College Art Association annual conference in 2020. She asked the art department to share her proposal with current and former students of the arts. Here's is an edited version of her submission:
2020: Insight or Blindness
2020 is an elegant number that connotes balance and excellent vision, but this election year it may as well be a palindrome because people on the extreme right and left seem to mirror one another. Not that long ago left-wing artists and educators were the defenders of free speech. In the early 90s we marched in opposition to extreme right-wing senators and Christian fundamentalists who eventually succeeded in removing federal funding for art that was deemed immoral or controversial. Given that recent history, how did republicans become the party most likely to defend the first amendment? When extreme left orthodoxy posits that free speech is merely a guise for hate speech does every single artist on the left agree? Isn’t it getting repetitive and unhelpful when artists limit their criticism to the obvious lunacy and misanthropy of the current administration? This panel will feature the work of artists on the left who create strong and maybe even beautiful works of art that offer candid and compelling criticism of the left. If you are an artist or curator concerned that 2020 will be a year in which selective blindness and self-censorship on the left will help usher in four more years of Trump, Melissa will want to see your work. She's currently working on a means to receive artist images and statements that she will feature on a website. Additionally, If her proposal is accepted by the CAA she will select artists, curators and educators to participate on the panel.