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Jennifer Rissler

posted by CAA — Dec 06, 2018


I have dedicated my 20-year professional career to educate, to support, and to advance artists and cultural production in the visual arts at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), where I serve currently as Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. A small, independent fine arts college founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art. SFAI’s core philosophy is one of fostering creativity and critical thinking in an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary environment. This mission statement informs my approach to and work within the visual arts generally, and I believe CAA shares a similar ethos, one that should be advanced to ensure its organizational longevity and relevancy for its members. That, in brief, is my main motivation for joining the Board of Directors.

As reflected on my CV, I serve this professional and personal mission through many board positions with non-profit organizations –including the Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME and Oakwood Arts/P35 in Richmond, VA. Both organizations, although distinct from one another in several ways, exist and were founded to advance creativity and artists’ roles in our society. Both are sustained by a shared belief in this value proposition, which places education at the fore. Higher education, specifically liberal and visual arts education, is increasingly under attack by a dangerous national rhetoric which aims to assault intellectualism, critical and creative thinking. Our roles – as arts administrators, scholars, and practitioners — therefore is exceedingly important against such a cultural context. Advocacy, which is a platform I believe CAA can steward in a more impactful manner, becomes even more urgent.

Currently, it is my desire to return serving a membership organization. As President Emerita of ArtTable, Inc., a non-profit membership organization dedicated to advancing women’s leadership in the visual arts, I’m familiar with the challenges inherent in stewarding organizational initiatives toward member responsiveness. I am excited by the prospect of serving a member-based organization dedicated to advancing scholarship of and advocacy for art and design. Toward that end, I believe unequivocally in Executive Director Hunter O’Hanian’s recent statement, “We must be a leader in the national conversation about the future of art history and studio arts education; indeed, we can work to strengthen all humanities departments in colleges and universities.” Organizations as august as CAA must be responsive to its membership base, cognizant of the ever-shifting landscape of higher education, while balancing the tensions of its founding mission and ethos with the pressure to remain relevant. I have a proven track record of stewarding initiatives in response to a diverse membership base, as my tenure with ArtTable demonstrates. Specifically, I led a strategic planning process that gave more autonomy to its members outside of the tri-state area (ArtTable’s offices are in midtown Manhattan), enhanced programming that addressed prescient issues facing women leaders in the visual arts, and expanded our mentoring initiatives to support emerging leaders in the field. I deduce from many conversations with members of CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts (which I chair currently) a shared desire to expand CAA programming along similar vectors. That is a task I am ready for, and I would welcome the opportunity to serve CAA members.

Download Jennifer Rissler’s Resume

Filed under: Board of Directors, Governance