Environment: Everything in nature is connected, and humans are part of nature.

Recognizing this, Black Earth Institute draws attention to natural patterns and processes, to the ways that human activities impact them, and to the ways artists can articulate environmental realities and challenges.

In keeping with this commitment, BEI:

  • Promotes, supports, and recognizes the expression of these interconnections, values and rights through the works of its Fellows, Scholars and others.
  • Recognizes and rejoices in the connection of the physical environment to spiritual realities.
  • Brings together artists and scientists to enhance each other’s contributions and understandings of environmental responsibilities.
  • Acknowledges urban, rural and wild environments, with their challenges and potentials.
  • Works to enhance and encourage sustainability in its facilities and programs, as well as in and through the contributions of its members.
  • Encourages awareness of energy costs in its programming and in the programming that it supports.
  • Supports the food security movement, including commitment to local foods in its programs.
  • Recognizes that food, pollution, energy and all environmental issues have class, gender, racial/ethnic, regional and international elements in their impacts and resolutions.

Social Justice: We can neither set history aside nor transcend it; we must deal with the facts of history and their consequences.

Recognizing this, BEI encourages and supports, in all of its programs and activities, awareness of issues of social justice. This means attention to areas of discrimination, including that of gender, race, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, and economic status; and of the search for equality and peace throughout the world. Our values and work include helping to create a society that is based on fulfilling people’s needs and aspirations rather than enriching a privileged few.

In keeping with this commitment, BEI:

  • Seeks out Fellows, Scholars and board members who represent the diversity of America’s population.
  • Hosts at least one International Fellow each term to further awareness of global issues.
  • Avoids language and imagery that is insulting to those of the world’s population who have been belittled.
  • Recognizes that environmental and social justice issues are intimately connected.
  • Supports the artist’s right to challenge power structures, including political, cultural, and religious ones.
  • Connects artists with thinkers and activists that encourage creation of socially responsive art.
  • Encourages and supports the work of our members and others that support these values.

Spirituality: Something beyond the individual human—call it divinity, spirit, ancestor, earth, or another term— exists and inspires the best in humanity.

Recognizing the power of this force, but also that religion has been as much a divisive as an inspiring force in human history, BEI encourages inclusive spirituality that builds bridges rather than walls between people and cultures.

In keeping with this commitment, BEI:

  • Encourages artists to include mythic, religious, and other spiritual traditions and motifs in their work.
  • Seeks to include artists and scholars of various spiritual traditions.
  • Supports communities of spirit that engage issues of environment and social justice.
  • Articulates artistic traditions that encourage spiritual expression.
  • Creates space for discussion of measures of artistic success beyond the commercial and academic.
  • Seeks models of inclusive spirituality within the history of art.

BEI Commitments