Frederick J. Aldrich III '19, Freedom of Worship, 2019

Dear MECA Community,

There are few words that can adequately express the dismay, and ultimately the despair, so many felt watching the assault on the Capitol building in Washington, DC this week. The chaos and fear were palpable as the rioters breached the halls of Congress. It is a day I think most of us will never forget because it rocked the very foundation of our democracy.

It is hard to predict what will happen in the next few weeks. But I have confidence that the citizens of this country will stand up against anarchy, and that we will ultimately look back on this bleak moment as a turning point for our democracy.

Fortunately, our democratic process remains steadfast, and we are already back on firmer footing. The presidential transition will happen on January 20, 2021; hopefully it will be a peaceful process that will restore order and confidence in our government and our democracy. But as a country, we have many extraordinary challenges to face going forward.

This year at MECA, I have watched our community of students and educators work together to face the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have adapted to the world around us and we have made plans to create and maintain a safe arts oasis here.

Through this period of time, our core values have sustained us and I have confidence that they will continue to guide us as we work to rebuild faith in our American democracy. A few years ago, MECA's students reimagined Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms paintings celebrating freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The paintings, inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's State of the Union speech, have been conversation starters for Americans for eighty years. Now it may be time to consider a renewed commitment to four additional freedoms - freedom from racial prejudice, freedom from inequality, freedom from gender discrimination and sexism, and freedom from white supremacism.

As artists and citizens, I have faith that we can lead the charge to create a fairer, more just America, one that is committed to social change, racial justice, and inclusion. By working to affirm our values here at MECA, we will serve the greater good. As we prepare to honor Martin Luther King Jr. later this month, I am inspired by his admonition that "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." We are measured, he advised, "not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where we stand in times of challenge and controversy." In these challenging times, I encourage the MECA community to redouble our commitment to each other, to our creative work, to our shared humanity, and to our democracy. The times demand nothing less.

Sincerely,

Laura Freid
President

Hannah Stritch '19, Freedom of Speech, 2019