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Art and Anti-Racism Initiative

The Art and Anti-Racism Initiative (AARI) provides students with the opportunity to explore topics concerning art and social justice that they might not otherwise cover in their courses. Students pursue this research through one-credit Independent Study Projects (ISP). They must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Frida Kahlo Self-Portrait with the Portrait of Doctor Farill 1951
Kent Monkman, The Rise and Fall of Civilization, 2019

Topics and Coursework

Potential topics to address include the following:

  • Artists engaging with the Black Lives Matter Movement
  • LGBTQIA+ artists
  • Indigenous artists (historical and/or contemporary)
  • Debates over the removal of racist monuments
  • The (under) representation of black and/or women artists in the history of art and museum collections
  • Representations of political injustice in the work of Muslim artists
  • Art created as social activism, such as images of incarcerated refugees
  • Representations of disability

Students formulate ideas they wish to pursue. Then, they locate a full-time faculty member from the Department of Art and Art History Department to serve as a Faculty Mentor. Students meet at least four times during the semester with their Faculty Mentor and with other students pursuing AARI topics to discuss their research and projects. Students generally produce essays, such as introductions to exhibition catalogs and plans for exhibitions. At the end of the semester, each student gives a short presentation, open to the public, on their work.

Signing Up for AARI

To sign up for an AARI Independent Study Project, students work with their Faculty Mentor to complete paperwork for a standard Independent Study Project. Proposals must clearly articulate an area of inquiry with a presentation component. Students must also meet the deadline to register and secure approval from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Course Credit

Students will earn one (1) credit for their work. The cost of the credit is included in MMC’s full-time tuition as a 16th credit.

Students may complete as many AARI Independent Study Projects as they like up to 6 credits, so long as they work on different topics each time. Students may use three (3) AARI Independent Study Projects toward their  Art History major requirements (one three-credit Art History Elective); an additional three (3) credits may be used toward General Education requirements. If they are Art majors, they may use AARI credits only toward their General Education requirements.

AARI Independent Study Projects are a great way to test out ideas to pursue in future courses, including the Senior Art History Seminar. They can also help to prepare you for an exciting career as a museum curator. Ultimately, through AARI projects, students can shed new light on overlooked artists; they can help to counter negative or racist stereotypes, and they can nourish inspiration for future change.


Questions? Contact Prof. Adrienne Baxter Bell, Professor of Art History, at