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CSU Long Beach Museum Director Kimberli Meyer To Appeal Her Dismissal

Kimberli Meyer, the former executive director of California State University, Long Beach’s University Art Museum, plans to appeal her September 11 dismissal, reports ARTnews. The firing came six days before the opening of lauren woods’s “American MONUMENT,” a project that Meyer initiated with woods and collaborators to address white supremacy, police violence, and anti-blackness. “When I asked them why they said, ‘Well you’re an at-will employee so we don’t have to tell you why,’” Meyer said of her dismissal. “So it’s a big question mark to me. [Departmental leadership] came in and I had to leave my office on the spot.” 

An open letter calling for Meyer’s reinstatement is now circulating online. “In light of the spate of firings of significant women in the arts over the past year, Meyer’s dismissal casts multipronged doubt on the current trajectory of art and civic institutions,” the letter states. “Not only does it point to a suppression of critical artistic production, it also reveals the ongoing vulnerability of arts professionals, primarily women and people of color, deemed outspoken and demanding in regards to curatorial content as well as personnel.”

“MONUMENTS” comprises twenty-five record players that emit sounds related to the police-involved deaths of African Americans. The work’s audio includes the final voicemail of Sandra Bland to a friend before her death in prison in 2015; sound from the police bodycam footage from the shooting of Alton Sterling in 2016; as well as audio from the Facebook Live recording of Philando Castille’s death one day later.

In response to Meyer’s termination, woods silenced the central sound installation on the show’s opening on Sunday and postponed all event engagements for the “MONUMENTS” project. She also released a statement on her blog, writing that the gallery has “kneecapped a project that is focusing on black lives and police brutality. They have  killed a leadership initiative whose focus was to not only address white supremacy but to disrupt it. They have rejected the invitation for collective authorship.”

The university has not disclosed details on Meyer’s departure, but a statement by the College of the Arts dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette reads, “While I cannot comment on personnel matters, I can say this decision was part of a longer-term process."