CalArts’ Commitment to Creative Expression

A message to the CalArts community from President Ravi Rajan, Provost Tracie Costantino, and Dean of Art Steve Lam

Dear Fellow CalArtians,

Throughout its history, CalArts has maintained a clear and unequivocal commitment to creating space for creative expression free of censorship or repression. Our mission is predicated on fostering an environment where challenging discourse can thrive, and different viewpoints and perspectives can be expressed and discussed with thoughtfulness, empathy, and rigor. The Institute’s commitment in this regard is unwavering, and we will defend it unequivocally. 

We write to remind you of this today because two recent articles related to Infrastructures, the post-grad exhibition of work by 2023 MFA graduates from the School of Art currently on view at UTA Artist Space, have caused some to question this commitment. The articles, published this week in Hyperallergic and ARTnews, implied that CalArts prevented several of the artists in the exhibition from referencing Gaza or Palestine in their artist statements. This was not the case, and both publications subsequently updated their headlines to correct this misperception. 

Let us be clear: CalArts will always defend the right of artists to make independent choices and decisions regarding the content of their work, the exhibition of their work, and what they say about their work. On this we will stand firm regardless of an artist’s position on challenging issues, and we will defend that right for each of you. 

We hope this message provides some context that goes beyond the scope of these brief articles, and we encourage everyone to dig deeper into the complexities of our ongoing educational mission, which is focused on ​​experimentation, critical engagement, and creative freedom. We have great respect for both the artists whose work is included in Infrastructures, and those who chose to withdraw. 

Below you will find information about several upcoming opportunities to directly engage with these important topics on our campus.


Ravi Rajan, President

Tracie Costantino, Provost

Steven Lam, Dean of Art

Infrastructures: An exhibition by the CalArts MFA Class of 2023, Infrastructures brings together the work of CalArts graduates from the MFA 2023 cohort in the Art, Art & Technology, and Photography & Media programs and includes painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and video. Through Feb. 3 at UTA Artist Space.

School of Art Town Hall: Dean Steve Lam will host an opportunity for current students, faculty, and staff to clarify the facts around the situation and consider ways to focus our energies together as a community. Thursday, Feb. 1, 6 pm at John Baldessari Studios Building (JBSB).

Visiting Artist Lecture Series: Dorit Cypis (Art MFA 77)
Artist, alumnx, activist, organizer, and People’s Lab founder Dorit Cypis will offer a talk on her work, relational practice, and story. Thursday, Feb. 15 at 4:30 in F200.

The Armenian Diaspora: an update on the crisis affecting Armenians and the impact on American Armenians
CalArts’ IDEA Office presents a forum on the current crisis involving the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh within the context of how the preservation of art and activism can make an impact. Thursday, Feb. 1, 5 pm in the CalArts Library, Computer Lab. RSVP.  

CalArts censorship policy