The department would like to congratulate Arts Administration doctoral candidate Elise Kieffer on her recent accomplishment. Kieffer has recently received publication in the American Journal of Arts Management as the author of the article “Riding the Seesaw between Artist and Administrator.” In reflection of her work and accomplishment Kieffer states:
This article began in my doctoral seminar, Philosophical Structures. As we explored the different philosophies prevalent in western thought, I immediately was drawn to pragmatism. As someone who often feels myself torn between two selves, the artist and the administrator, it appealed to me as a way of navigating that space of difference. Throughout the semester I explored those themes and ultimately wrote this paper as a beginning exploration of how the philosophy could be useful in the field of arts administration. I first presented on the topic in April at the inaugural conference of Southeastern Arts Leadership Educators (SALE) and that experience and feedback enabled me to fine tune the message.
The analogy that I use throughout the paper is a seesaw. The artist sits on one side and the administrator sits on the other and they use one another’s strength to fulfill their missions. Using this analogy, pragmatism serves as the fulcrum on which the tension becomes potential and artist and administrator are able to maximize their relationship to the fulfillment of their mutual purpose: to create and promote the art product.
The unique nature of the arts administrator, in contrast to other nonprofit managers, is that often these tensions and dualities are striving within the same individual. I am the artist but I am also the administrator so I am warring within myself over priorities and methods. That is what “Riding the seesaw” is all about. We need the tension. It makes us stronger.