The College of Visual Arts and Design - Foundations Program within the University of North Texas hosts artists and scholars from all over the world to speak to their diverse student body. It is important that the individuals who are brought in are diverse and align with the student demographics to create a holistic approach to education. My colleague and I were tasked to research the Foundations Programs history of visiting artist demographics and present the data to the college.
Does the College of Visual Arts and Design - Foundations Program Visiting Artists represent and align with the demographics of the students within the program?
How might the demographics of the visiting artists influence the Foundations Program students?
How might the process of inviting visiting artists change to improve the diversity and inclusion?
The current demographics of the University of North Texas were easy to come by. Fig 1 shows that majority of the student population are female. Just under half are white, and almost a quarter of the population identify as Hispanic due to the geographic location of the university.
The areas of study in Fig 2. show the areas of art practices within the College of Visual Arts and Design which include Design, Studio Art, Art History, and Art Education, each with concentrations. 22% of the students enrolled in Foundations courses are majoring in Studio, while the just under 50% are majoring in a Design concentration.
Between 2008 and 2012 little to no data was readily available. Many of the visiting artists and scholars names were not recorded nor much documentation was available to pull statistics from. We were able to scour the internet including early posts on Instagram and Blogger, as well as the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/. Lastly we used short interviews with faculty and staff who were employed in the college at that time to fill in any gaps we had left. Due to the limited and unconfirmable records, we are aware this time period resulted in incomplete data. After 2012, in house records of posters, fliers, financial statements were easily available to pull data from allowing us to recreate this data more accurately.
We determined there to be 130 confirmed artists who visited between 2008 and 2012.
We wanted to catalogue each individual by their art practice which aligned with the departments within the college, then by each concentration.
For each individual we needed to visit their personal websites, Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter and other social media. We read their blog posts, resumes, artist statements and interviews to acquire accurate data on how the self identify in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, and the type of work they do and their profession.
The initial data showed that majority of the speakers catered to the Studio Arts area mostly, Drawing & Painting. We noted some additional categories outside of the areas specific to the college including Film and Entrepreneurship. Several Studio concentrations were not represented from the data we collected. The profession became an interesting portion where we noticed a substantial number of educators.
1. Women are under-represented, with less than 43% (57 our of 130) of the visiting artists identifying as women. By comparison the student body at UNT is 53% women. (See Fig 5)
2. White individuals are over-represented, with 88% (115 out of 130) of the visiting artists identifying as white. By comparison only 48% of the student body at UNT are white. (See Fig 6)
3. Minorities are underrepresented, with only 6% (8 out of 130) Visiting Artists identifying as Black/African American and 3% (4 out of 130) identify as Latino/Hispanic. By comparison 14% of the student body at UNT are 22% of the student body at UNT are Hispanic.
4. Studio practices are disproportionately represented, especially Drawing and Painting. (See Fig 7 and 8)
5. Educators are over-represented with 57% of the visiting artists earning (if not all) of their income from education. By comparison only 7% of Foundations students are majoring in Art Education. (See Fig 9)
We determined that the Foundations Programs current list of visiting artists do not align with the demographics of the students within it's program, the college or university. We believe that all areas of diversity need to be adjusted to accurately represent the student population.
Most notably are the race/ethnicity and professions. Students need to see successful minority individuals as well as professions outside education. The goal is to create art professionals who can seek gainful employment outside of academia.
In order to make these changes they first must identify how they are acquiring their visiting artist recommendations and modify the selection process. It is also advices they identify the artists demographics during the screening process, prior to inviting the artist to campus.