The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.
Letter from our President & CEO, Winter 2021
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.
President & CEO
Letter from our President & CEO, Fall 2020
I arrived at the Terra Foundation for American Art on September 1, 2020, deeply inspired by the foundation’s past accomplishments and ready to delve into the important work ahead of us. I look forward to sharing more about our future directions in the coming months as I speak with and learn from our partners and communities here in Chicago, nationally, and internationally.
With the urgent and necessary calls for change within our arts and cultural institutions, I am committed to prioritizing equity and inclusion within the foundation’s work and to our role in evolving the field of American art at large. As part of our ongoing response to the myriad challenges of the present moment, I am pleased to announce the second phase of relief funding for US museums, bringing the foundation’s total commitment to $8.5 million over the next two years. This initiative, Re-envisioning Permanent Collections, continues to assist with the financial challenges art institutions are facing while also recognizes the urgency of addressing inequities in the presentation and discussion of American art.
The initiative supports more expansive conceptions of American art that reflect richer and more diverse histories through new engagements with museums’ permanent collections in order to reveal the full multiplicity of artworks and voices that shape the artistic and cultural heritage of the United States. Importantly, our commitment to addressing racial, ethnic, and gender inequities in American art extends beyond artistic content and encompasses the support of opportunities for new, more inclusive models of research, interpretation, and collaborative engagement.
Guidelines for funding are available online. The next letter of inquiry deadline for Re-envisioning Permanent Collections is November 1, 2021.
President & CEO