Museum Chief Snubs Mississippi

JACKSON, MS.- Dr. Tracy Fitzpatrick, Director of the Neuberger Museum of Art, and Thomas J. Schwarz, President of Purchase College, SUNY, will not attend the opening of the Museum's traveling exhibition here 'When Modern Was Contemporary'.

This is in opposition to the anti-Gay discriminatory bill signed into law yesterday by Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant.

The Neuberger exhibition features a retrospective of Louise Fishman, and opens this week at the Mississippi Museum of Art {AKFiles: 3 April 2016}.

Dr. Fitzpatrick's statement:

"At the Neuberger Museum of Art, we are delighted that the residents of Mississippi will be afforded the extraordinary opportunity to view works by some of America’s most important 20th century artists from our collection in When Modern Was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection.

This exhibition reflects the ways in which our founding patron, Roy R. Neuberger, supported living artists irrespective of their backgrounds and beliefs, and valued open dialogue through a mix of ideas – even those that were controversial and unpopular, an approach that is in opposition to Mississippi’s new, sweeping, discriminatory anti-gay and transgender legislation.

As an academic art museum our role is to educate diverse audiences in and through the visual arts by presenting a variety of media and cultural perspectives, and works by artists from diverse backgrounds and convictions.

While I hope that the presence of the works by such a diverse group of artists in When Modern Was Contemporary will help create dialogue around these issues, in view of Mississippi’s new discriminatory law it is with great regret that I must decline the Mississippi Museum of Art’s kind invitation to celebrate with them on the occasion of the opening of the Neuberger exhibition.

In keeping with its values, the Neuberger Museum hopes that its newly opened exhibition, Louise Fishman: A Retrospective, will also contribute to this dialogue in a meaningful way. The exhibition is the first career survey of this important American artist who has long fought for the meaningful recognition that we believe has eluded her and many women artists because of sexism and anti-gay bias.

Hopefully, both the Louise Fishman exhibition and When Modern Was Contemporary will stimulate comment and thoughtful dialogue as many in the nation struggle to achieve a greater climate of acceptance and equality. Many of the programs associated with the Louise Fishman exhibition will focus on LGBTQ issues."

Purchase College President, Thomas J. Schwarz:

"Purchase College, as an inclusive and diverse community, stands with Governor Cuomo, the American Association of Museum Directors, and the American Association of Academic Art Museums and Galleries, in denouncing this law.

We strongly support Dr. Fitzpatrick’s decision to stay in New York rather than attend the opening exhibition festivities in Mississippi, as regularly scheduled. This law is a step back in time, out of keeping with the values of Purchase College or the Museum."

Religious Liberty Act

HB1523', “The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act" allows individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, and in their communities. Following Kansas and North Carolina, Mississippi becomes the third state this legislative session to sign into law an explicitly anti-LGBT bill.

Under this new law, religion could be used by most any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others.

Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person -- even if the organization receives government funding.

It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension.

It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor's beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.