Hold Tight to Your Moral Compass

In a nation divided, with vitriol littering our media outlets, it’s imperative to hold tight to your moral compass.

When clearly defined, your moral compass guides you through difficult decision-making by keeping you true to yourself and your values. At Studio/E, we call this Desire. Though it is critical to follow your moral compass, it isn’t always easy. Take the Director and President of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), Kaywin Feldman, for example. Kaywin has never known a more challenging time to be the leader of an arts institution — a role she has played for more than two decades. But she says she relies on her moral compass when making the difficult decisions she’s confronted with daily.

One such decision was whether or not to host an exhibition that could appear politically driven. Mia was approached by a woman named Valerie Castile, who had become the recipient of many pieces of art after the fatal shooting of her son, Philando Castile, in 2016. Artists across the community had sent the Castile family works of art as a way to find comfort and healing. So touched was Valerie by this generosity that she wanted to share it back with the community via the museum.

After much debate and discussion, Kaywin and her team decided to host the exhibition. ‘Art and Healing’ opens June 16, 2018 and features sculptures, posters, paintings and more from the people of the community. The work, Kaywin says, is touching. It’s about love, suffering and healing.

When first discussing the ‘Art and Healing’ exhibition, several people expressed concerns to Kaywin about Mia appearing to take a stand on such a polarizing issue. Kaywin argued that there is no issue to take a stand on because Mia cares about human beings — and this issue is about human beings. Mia’s values are diversity, equity, inclusion and access, and this tragedy violated them. The shooting of Philando Castile happened in Mia’s community, and it is in line with the museum’s values to be a part of this important public discussion. “If it helps people to process and heal,” Kaywin says, “it is the most important thing we could do.”

Leading an institution in an age-old industry which needs to reinvent itself to stay relevant is difficult, but Kaywin holds tight to her moral compass to help guide her.

“I can’t be the leader here without knowing what I believe in, standing up for it, and making sure our work reflects the values of the institution. It’s tough, but I won’t back down on it.”

Kaywin’s decision to go ahead with this exhibition despite the potential backlash is a great example of the power of following your moral compass. As members of her community, we commend her for her bravery.

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Are you clear on your moral compass? If not, take five minutes to list out what matters to you. Identify themes, choose those most important to you, then write down what you have defined as your moral compass.

Find more stories about Studio/E members following their moral compass, or their Desire, here.

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