It has come to my attention that some students are offended by student artwork on display in Boston University College of Fine Arts. The artwork is the result of a sophomore graphic design class assignment called the “public awareness project.” The project, which Professor Yael Ort-Dinoor has assigned for years, asks students to take a current issue and create a visual response to it. The assignment is not meant to offend, but rather to create a design challenge. Not all students chose the Hong Kong protests, but many did.
The artwork does not reflect Boston University’s or the College’s point of view. The artwork is an expression of these young artists. The subsequent discussion illuminates a few key points about art’s role in society and its place in a university. Art is neither created nor experienced in isolation. Art is informed by the world we are living in. It can be a powerful catalyst in political, cultural, and social discourse. To support these young artists, we must continue to foster a safe environment in which students can participate in academic exercises that stretch their abilities. A College of Fine Arts education is not just about artistic rigor, but also intellectual rigor. The spirit of Professor Ort-Dinoor’s assignment, to practice art in the context of global issues, is present throughout the graphic design department, the School of Visual Arts, and the College of Fine Arts.
I applaud our faculty for challenging students to design in the context of complex issues. And I applaud the student designers as well as the student that came forth, all of whom expressed their opinions. We celebrate freedom of speech, which allows your expression and conversation to exist without restraint. We respect and appreciate all of your voices, and encourage you to share your perspective, always. You have started a dialogue, and that, more than anything, illustrates the impact of art.
~ Dean Benjamín Juárez, Boston University College of Fine Arts