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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Statement

Department of Art & Art History, May 2021


1. Mission

In the firm belief that creative expression is a universal experience to which all human beings should have equal access, the Department of Art & Art History at William & Mary encourages everyone, regardless of background, to explore art and architecture through studio practice and historical inquiry. Consistent with stated policies of William & Mary’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, our department is committed to creating a university community representative and inclusive of individuals with different backgrounds, talents, and skills. In Art & Art History, we want to help ensure that William & Mary will be a place where all faculty, staff, and students feel supported and affirmed.  Accordingly, we also actively oppose racism, sexism, gender bias, classism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination that produce barriers to education and creative expression.  We strive to promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our daily departmental operations and acknowledge that this is critical, ongoing, and complicated work that requires sensitivity and nuance.  We welcome your input and advice about how we might continue to improve.  Please feel free to reach out to our Department Chair, Alan C. Braddock (, or the Associate Chair, Nikki Santiago (, with any comments you wish to share.

2. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Art & Art History – Past and Present

People have created art in various forms everywhere human beings have lived for tens of thousands of years, indicating an innate and universal capacity for imagination and aesthetic practice.  Only asymmetries of power, politics, and institutional access have created exclusionary barriers to artistic expression.  In the Western world, certain institutions—art academies, museums, universities, and disciplines such as art history—established powerful systems of knowledge and professionalization that privileged elite European people and traditions while marginalizing others.  Typifying this entrenched bias, H.W. Janson’s History of Art (first published in 1962) served as a standard textbook in American collegiate art history courses for decades, even though it described much non-Western art as “primitive” and included no art by women until the third edition of 1986.  Since then, a veritable explosion of new artistic creativity and scholarship in art history, much of it by people of historically marginalized groups—women, lower-income people, people of color, LGBTQ people, neurodiverse people—has dramatically diversified the field while recovering much past art that was previously ignored or overlooked.  Growing economic inequality and persistent bias in various forms during this same period have prompted ongoing critiques.

The Department of Art & Art History actively promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion through its curriculum, programs, hiring practices, and other initiatives, which our standing Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) advocates and documents.