Arts for Everyone Is My Livelihood


The Swing

Jean-Honore Fragonard, The Swing, 1767 (Wallace Collection, London)

Suzanne’s Story
The Decisive Moment (with apologies to Henri Cartier-Bresson.) As the daughter of an art teacher, I grew up surrounded by art books. My childhood summers were spent pouring through them, marveling at the velvet cushioned swing featured in Fragonard’s The Swing (which differed substantially from the splinter-inducing apparatus in Lincoln’s Pioneer Park) and staring in guilty fascination at Christ’s thorn spiked green skin in Grunewald’s Isenheim Alterpiece, so I guess my decision to study art history in college was a predictable one.


Despite my exposure to so many artifacts of art and culture, my first glimpse of a 12th century cathedral at age 19 took my breath away. The enormous size of Notre Dame in Paris and the way it dominates the Îsle de la Cité was something that simply did not translate from books. The atmosphere inside the cathedral was unlike anything I had experienced before, where all five senses react to the space at the same time and your mind simply cannot grasp any more that the sheer sublimity of it. You realize at once that it is a rare event and that if you’re very lucky, you’ll experience it again someday.
I believe that everyone should be given a chance to experience such a rare and transcendental thing. In writing this I have come to the realization that the Nebraska Arts Council programs and projects that excite me the most are the ones that offer experiential opportunities. One can never predict what will constitute someone else’s decisive moment, but I think my job is making sure the path is clear to the possibility. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that.

About Suzanne

As Executive Director of the Nebraska Arts Council, Suzanne Wise is the agency’s CEO, and represents the Nebraska Arts Council at the state, regional and national levels in a variety of ways. She works with the Nebraska Arts Council board to implement agency goals and objectives and responds to the needs of the state’s arts community through Suzanne Wisefinancial support, services and advocacy. Suzanne also works with the Nebraska Cultural Endowment in developing financial resources for the arts and humanities. Suzanne’s career at the NAC began in 1988. She has served as the public art program administrator, and managed special initiatives and all grant programs except arts education for the agency. She has served on numerous boards both in Nebraska and nationally including Mid-America Arts Alliance, Kansas City; and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Washington, D.C. She holds an M.A. in art history from the University of Kansas with a specialization in 19th and 20th century American painting and photography, and a B.A. in art history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In her previous life, she held curatorial positions at Sheldon Art Museum, Joslyn Art Museum and Northwestern University’s Block Gallery and has taught at Creighton University and in the University of Nebraska system. She was awarded an Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from UNL’s Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Alumni Association Board of Directors in 1998.