threewallsSALON: Rethinking Arts Administration

threewallsSALON: Rethinking Arts Administration

Tuesday 04/26/2011, 7pm

This event is over.

Free & open to the public



119 N. Peoria St #2c

Tuesday, April 26, 7:00 p.m.

Almost paradoxically, the blending together of roles in the art world has accompanied the specialization of arts-related careers. As the last gathering in the @work SALON series, we will wrap up with a look at that always hard-to-define role, the arts administrator, in the context of the discussions we’ve had throughout the series.

Are we observing a conflicted moment for arts administrators? Why are arts administrators forced into a demanding fluidity that requires a never-ending accumulation of skills in order to support the flexibility and creativity that is now encouraged (in fact, demanded) of other positions in the arts? It is “support,” after all, that arts administrators are understood to be good for. So, where does this leave the arts administrator? If the so-called “educational turn” is generating new possibilities for artists, curators, critics and educators that include an increased self-reflexivity and transparency, how can arts administrators not follow suit? How can we define or describe this profession, which encompasses so many specialized roles? And why can’t anyone think of a better name than “arts administrators”?

Arts administrators don’t work in isolation, and frequently collaborate with (or step into) many of the other roles that have been discussed in this series. So isn’t it just as important for administrators to critically embrace (or reject) these changes in ways that push for an increasing dynamism in the arts?

This discussion will be lead by invited guests Rebecca Keller (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Faheem Majeed (South Side Community Art Center), Erin Nixon (Noble and Superior Projects), Daniel Tucker (, andAdam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook (Plausible Artworlds).


Rebecca Keller’s career has encompassed experience as an artist, educator, curator, and writer, and she has worked extensively with museums and arts institutions, as both a curator/educator and an exhibiting artist. Her recent work involves making site generated installations and interventions at historic sites,and posits historic research as creative work. These art projects and public programming at historic sites are done under umbrella title “Excavating History.” She views both her teaching and her writing as part of her art practice. Her writing includes essays for museums, art magazines and journals, and she is currently working on a book about “Excavating History”, which highlights the way these projects expand the stories told at historic sites. She has received numerous honors and awards, including a Fulbright and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has exhibited widely and conducted participatory public projects in the U.S., Europe, and Brazil. She was awarded the Joan Jakobsen Scholarship for writers of unusual promise for the Wesleyan University Writers Conference in 2009, and the Bill Baker Award at the Antioch Writer’s conference in 2010. She will be pursuing research-driven and site-generated writing and art projects at Ragdale this summer.


Faheem Majeed is the executive director and curator of the South Side Community Art Center. He has curated the exhibitions of numerous artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Dr. David Driskell, Charles White, travis, Yashua Klos, Jonathan Green, and Theaster Gates. Majeed takes pride in collaborating with numerous organizations and artists. Majeed received his BFA from Howard University and his MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). While at UIC he received both the Lincoln and DFI Fellowships and was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. He was also one of twenty-four students selected to take part in New Insight at Art Chicago. Majeed also teaches at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago State.


Erin Nixon is currently completing a Master’s in Arts Administration & Policy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She received her B.A. in Art History from the University of Missouri in 2008. Since 2009, she has co-curated a monthly program of exhibitions and events at Noble & Superior Projects. In addition to curating site-specific projects at the gallery, she has disseminated a continuing series of (free) unlimited editions from exhibiting artists and self-published a quarterly zine highlighting alternative venues in Chicago. Also working as a researcher, she has conducted research on arts policy issues in the state of Illinois to be used in arts advocacy efforts for Arts Alliance Illinois and developed visitor-centered pedagogies for educational programming at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. She is currently writing her Master’s thesis, “Autonomous Practices: Current Revolutions in Socially Engaged Art,” an inquiry into collective aesthetic practices situated outside of the mainstream art world.


Daniel Tucker has worked as a cultural and political organizer in Chicago for the last decade, initiating a number of large-scale local projects and events. From 2005-2010 he edited AREA Chicago the print/online publication dedicated to researching and networking local social and cultural movements in Chicago. He has also worked outside of Chicago as a facilitator for Creative Time, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts and the National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture. His collaborative projects have been exhibited internationally and his writings have appeared in numerous forums ranging from Art Agenda to Proximity. He has lectured widely about the intersections of art and politics. His recent book of interviews with activist farmers throughout the US, Farm Together Now, was just published by Chronicle Books (with co-author Amy Franceschini) and he is currently pursuing an election-season public art project called Visions for Chicago and a new ongoing interview project about transformative experiences with art and politics in Chicago.


Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook work with Basekamp, a non-commercial organization of people researching and co-developing interdisciplinary, self-organized art projects with other individuals and groups in various authorship-blurring configurations for the past decade. In 2010, Basekamp focused on Plausible Artworlds, a project to collect and share knowledge about alternative models of creative practice. From alternative economies and open source culture to secessions and other social experiments, Plausible Artworlds is a platform for research and participation with artworlds that present a distinct alternative to mainstream culture.

The aim of the project is to bring awareness to the potential of these artworlds as viable “cultural ecosystems” that provide both pedagogical and practical solutions to a range of emergent socio-cultural challenges.

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