June 7, 2020
updated on June 13, 2020
We are posting here an apology in addition to the statement of apology we offered to artist Shaun Leonardo in March 2020 referencing the cancellation of his exhibition The Breath of Empty Space which was to be shown in moCa's summer season. I would like to acknowledge our failure in working through the challenges this exhibition presented together with Mr. Leonardo. In doing so, we failed the artist, we breached his trust, and we failed ourselves. We received feedback from a few voices in the activist community who advised that this presentation at moCa could stir trauma, leading to pain and harm. This was echoed by moCa staff members. In responding to this feedback, regretfully we did not engage Mr. Leonardo in creating space for dialogue and debate. We did not expand the conversation within our community. We prevented ourselves and our community from having the difficult and urgent conversations that contemporary art seeks to advance. Our actions impacted Mr. Leonardo, the curator John Chaich, and many others negatively. We are sorry. As has been made clear these past weeks, the time has come to confront racism with unflinching honesty. The work of anti-racism involves taking responsibility and supporting risk. We did not do this. We failed. We are learning now. We do not shy away from this failure. We are resolved to do better and to be held accountable for our needed improvement.
Jill Snyder, Kohl Executive Director, moCa Cleveland
Apology sent to Shaun Leonardo