On Sunday I tuned into a webinar featuring a former colleague from my art college days talking about his lifelong art making life. It was hosted by a university art museum and delivered on its promise of being well done and in depth. But before the talk started, the moderator began with a speech which I saw as a disclaimer, though I am not sure of its original intent. She explained that the university was built on land formerly inhabited by an indigenous group who had been dispossessed of the land in the mid 1800’s. She went on to say that descendants of that people still lived in the state.
After the webinar I remembered how much I had loved working with the featured artist and felt renewed gratitude for my twenty-five years teaching among artists. But this morning I began to ponder that opening talk by the moderator. It had nothing to do with my friend, by the way. He neither works for the university nor does he live on that land. It was a history lesson which may or not be told before every university talk. But to what end, I wonder. For some reason on this morning in Oregon the moderator felt the need to tell us the history of the land under the school hosting the webinar. I continue to question why.
I don’t want to get into a rancorous discussion about this, but I am curious about other times any of my readers have encountered this kind of announcement. Do you have any insight about its value?