From the Board


Chair of the Board of Trustees

An artist, photographer, cultural activist, and graduate of SFAI (MFA 84'), Graham has been a board member since July 2020 and was an Adjunct Professor at SFAI in 2002 and 2016. He is a Pew Fellow and Professor of Art in Photography at Pennsylvania State University, former Executive Director of The PhotoAlliance in San Francisco, and a former board member of the San Francisco Artists Alumni (SFAA).

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Recognizing Juneteenth

Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday.

June 19, 2021

Healing even the deepest wounds begins with acknowledgment. Citing the horror and the festering truth that we have lived with as a society for centuries is a step toward that healing. The willingness to continue the conversation that started decades ago during the civil rights movement initiates a level of reciprocity necessary in paving the road to understanding. At the federal level, the formal establishment of a moment or day when we might reflect on laws that held fellow human beings bound in servitude to other humans and to ultimately celebrate the revocation of that law is a moment that millions of people have waited hundreds of years for.

One hundred fifty-eight years ago, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the abolishment of the enslavement of black people in the United States. Two years later, on June 19, the enslaved black community of Galveston, Texas, learned of the abolition. One hundred fifty-six years later, we arrive at the point of conciliation. To be sure, this monument is welcome and will be celebrated. However, we all remain aware that laws or holidays or festivals, or parades only serve to raise and sustain awareness. Substantive societal change occurs within the confines of the human heart. This is the point at which we must continue to collaborate for our future.


―Lonnie Graham, SFAI Board Chair

Supporting Racial Justice

A response to the guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd

April 20, 2021

What kind of prejudice is defined by the level of fear of a child with a packet of sweets. Or a boy with a cell phone. Or a man with his hands raised in surrender. Or a woman asleep in her bed.

When we as a society have evolved beyond murderous fear, when the conviction of a murderer is something other than a rarified exception, when reason and compassion precede impulse and rage, we will begin to make progress toward a just society.


―Lonnie Graham, SFAI Board Chair

Standing Against Intolerance

On behalf of the SFAI community

March 19, 2021

We reach out and reinforce the relationships we have with our friends and families with assurances of solidarity. We stand together and march. We speak out against the pitiful inadequacy that exists within us. For a few moments or a few weeks, sometimes months or even by presidential decree, we are motivated toward a resolution. In the exceptional case, things may change. But that change can seem as slow as evolution. This is the heart of the matter. There is no doubt that the thinking and rational human has evolved beyond the primal impulse of tribalism. Fear and misunderstanding, and irrational impulses still exist among us.

With each loss, we grieve. Illogical acts evade our common understanding. But as our society continues to reveal aspects of itself as something less than inclusive and more than fearful, we can not, and we should not be satisfied with solidarity. It becomes our responsibility to stand together and face tyranny, fear and prejudice, and intolerance. We must take the responsibility to evolve toward empathy.

Until we take a step toward activating our society against intolerance, we will continue to grieve for those of us in communities of every creed who suffer at the hands of violence.

Care for our communities. Stand against hate.


―Lonnie Graham, SFAI Board Chair