For nearly 100 years, the literary and human rights organization PEN America has promoted the free expression of ideas, information, and beliefs through literature from around the world and has protected the authors of these works when they are threatened with violence, censorship, legal harassment, resource denial and other forms of persecution. In recent years it has extended the reach of its advocacy efforts into the field of visual arts, coming to the defense of artists who have been attacked for critiquing the dominant culture, bearing witness to inhumanity, and/or seeking to bring about change in repressive power systems.
“The terrific range of project proposals we receive each year speaks to the mobile and porous disciplinary boundaries of contemporary art practice, and to the rich and inventive ways writers approach art today. They are alert to the urgent need to expand the conventions of art history and criticism with ideas from other discourses, such as black studies, transnational and diaspora studies, gender and women’s studies, and LGBT studies. The work of lesser known and overlooked artists and art communities continues to be mined, with writers articulating new ways to counter the striking imbalances of race, class and gender that continue to affect the arts and the culture industry.”