3 key questions about Schack’s postponed photo exhibition

EVERETT – “Indigenous Peoples: Photos from the End of the Earth” was scheduled to premiere at the Schack Art Center in August. But questions about cultural sensitivity led to delaying personal exposure.

Then the Daily Herald discovered another problem with photographer Bob Fink’s window display: the artist’s past. As a psychiatrist, he was charged with sexual misconduct with a patient. Fink denied that it was professional misconduct, but due to the allegations he is no longer licensed to practice in two countries.

Herald reporters Sara Bruestle and Rachel Riley looked into the problem by interviewing Schack executives and the Everett-based photographer, while unearthing records of Fink’s career as a psychiatrist.

Here are three questions that our report raises:

Can you separate the art from the artist?

Fink, who was selected as Schack’s Artist of the Year, was fired from a job in the government health sector in New Zealand in 2016, amid allegations of misconduct in the United States. United.

Schack executive director Judy Tuohy said Schack’s management was unaware of Fink’s sordid past in late July, when they postponed the show. Art class instructors have to pass a background check, but otherwise the Schack doesn’t “look into people’s past,” Tuohy said.

However, said Tuohy, Schack’s management still hope to move forward with Fink as Artist of the Year.

When artists represent people of color, who decides if the art is appropriate for public display?

White artists depicting people of color have come under increased scrutiny in the 21st century.

Fink’s collection features photos of isolated tribes in Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Namibia, Ethiopia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

Bernardo Ruiz, a racial equity consultant who advised the Schack on the exhibit, asked the Schack – among other considerations – if the photographer was an anthropologist “knowing how to work with tribes in a way that preserves their sovereignty and their rights. dignity “.

Fink is not an anthropologist. He’s a former psychiatrist. He said the Schack team had not told him about Ruiz’s recommendations. He said he meets most, if not all, of the criteria for showing respect to Indigenous peoples. He thinks his work should be exhibited.

Did the Schack handle the situation correctly?

The Schack Art Center, based in downtown Everett, hosts gallery exhibitions, art classes, and artist studios. It is headed by 16 members of the board of directors and an executive director.

Shortly before Fink’s storefront opened, Schack’s management told him he couldn’t present it as he had planned due to questions about the content. At the time, Tuohy said, the art center was unaware that Fink had been charged with sexual misconduct in 2016.

Do you have any thoughts you would like to share for inclusion in a possible future story? Email them to [email protected] Put “Schack” in the subject line and include your full name and region of residence.

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