Letter from our President & CEO, Winter 2021

Dear Friends,

During my first year at the Terra Foundation, I have had the honor of speaking with and learning from so many of you—our partners and community members in Chicago, across the US, and around the world. I am pleased to share some further reflections about the direction of the foundation and our commitment to building a more equitable future for American art together.

Recognizing the current and historical inequities in the ways American art is presented and understood, we have adopted a new vision for our program portfolio. At the core of this vision is a commitment to supporting and sharing more expansive histories of American art. To enact this, we are focusing on projects that are guided by inclusive and equitable research and on initiatives that center artists and scholars who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC).

We are actively reviewing and revisioning our current programs and generating new approaches that will support questioning, broadening, and complicating stories of American art. Essential to this ongoing effort is collaboration, and we are engaging a range of partners worldwide in this process to ensure that we are listening to and reflecting a spectrum of communities and voices.

Shifting the foundation’s organizational culture and internal processes also plays a key role in our work. We have sought to develop shared language and values that center equity and mutual understanding. We are establishing new review processes for grant proposals, developing additional opportunities for community engagement, and adopting models for power sharing and participatory grantmaking. Within all of our work, we are listening, learning, and practicing humility. We recognize that our internal and external priorities must work in tandem to achieve real change.

As a learning organization, we also know that we cannot do this work alone and that establishing new partnerships and pathways for feedback and dialogue is crucial. This is an iterative process, and our programs and approaches will continue to evolve as we form new relationships, as our partners’ needs change, and as we continue to learn and grow.

We invite you to contact us at any time as you seek out support for your programs and projects. We are here to listen, learn, and collaborate so that together we can create richer, more inclusive narratives of American art.

Sincerely,

Sharon Corwin
President & CEO