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Want Cool Art for Your Office? Don’t Do This.


A Texas artist who teaches at one of our colleges posted this email exchange on Facebook recently:

Subject: Art For Office


My name is [redacted] I’m an Alumni of [redacted]. My company just recently added a new floor that we need art for.
We are looking for a program that will allow us to use their art, and rotate them out periodically and in turn, we donate to the program.
You would be responsible for everything from choosing the appropriate pieces, to putting them up on the wall.
Please let me know if this is something your program offers.


Subject: Re: Art For Office

Thank you so much for your inquiry, [redacted].

My recommendation would be that you come to our annual studio art exhibition (opening March 22) and select the pieces that make sense for your floor. However, in lieu of donating to the program, I would advocate for the students by encouraging you to buy the piece that you like the most from that selection, and support the arts by actual purchases. It would encourage the students to keep putting their best works forward, and when you select the next round of art, to make a single purchase from, it would be something that we could all look forward to.

Thank you for your consideration.


Subject: Re: Art For Office


Thank you so much for your response. We are no [sic] looking to buy the pieces because we want to rotate them. Because of this, we will not be able to move forward.


Subject: Re: Art For Office

No problem. Good luck.

In the comments on the post, the artist summed it up better than we can:

Condition student artists to believe that exposure and decoration is the only value of their work, while scoffing at the idea of paying for art. “We want you to come hang it, rotate it out, and get a tax break for it by giving money to your institution instead.” I think this entire phrase is in the Oxford definition of exploitation.


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1 Response

  1. Suzanne

    Kudos to the artist educator on their handling of the situation. I am a retired art faculty and department chair. Over the years, I experienced these kinds of exchanges on numerous occasions. There were also regular requests for donations of artwork by students and faculty; an equally problematic subject.

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