Founder and Executive Director for the CORAI Project Andrea Iaroc, ’08 has a knack for making resources for art history more accessible to minorities.
The Art + Art History alumna implemented the project last year to help equalize the access to resources of young or beginning art historians who self-identify as People of Color. However, it is crucial that they actively work to change the Western and Eurocentric foundations of art history to make it more global and inclusive.
“Art history’s methodologies, theories, and general practice have been shaped by Western European perspectives, which do not apply nor represent the global community,” says Iaroc.
“To have a better understanding of human art creation through time, we need to give voices to those who were not part of the field in the beginning: women, people of lower socio-economic status, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and/or anyone who did not belong to the ‘White’/ patriarchal construct,” Iaroc says.
The project provides grants of $500 exclusively in the state of Washington in the spring and fall. It is heavily supported by private donors and in-kind donations.
Iaroc says she sought the professional help of financial advisors, non-profit professionals, and social justice advocates in her immediate community to understand and ascertain the viability of the project, its impact on the art historian community, its place in Seattle’s arts & culture, and how to best stand by CORAI’s values of inclusion, equity, and altruism.
“The community of art historians, art enthusiasts, artists, and non-profit buffs we belong to have been generous with their donations, which enabled us to create the first two springboard grants and support our operations,” she says.
Iaroc’s art historical focus is on contemporary art that deals with cultural hybridity and identity. She says she fell in love with art history as a senior at Miami Coral Park High School thanks to her professor Peggy Falagan. At FIU, she developed a thesis on Jewish Art Iconography with Professor of Art History Dr. Carol Damian.
Iaroc is also currently Facilities Assistant and Chair of the Equity and Inclusion Committee at The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington.
She says CORAI helps younger/beginner art historians due to a lack of funding by larger grantmaking foundations. Also, art historians are not the recipients of grants at the same rate of visual artists or other humanities practitioners.
“I felt a need to create a grant program that did not require a doctorate, five publications, and 15+ years of a career, but that it recognized instead the power of youth or the beginner’s vision — say that of an 80-year-old recent graduate,” she says.