Bruce Hainley Joins Rice University as Chair of Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts

by Glasstire August 27, 2021

Noted writer, arts critic and educator Bruce Hainley is joining the faculty at Rice University in Houston as the new chair of the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA). Hainley, a contributing editor for Artforum magazine, currently serves as the Chair of Graduate Art at the ArtCenter College of Design (Pasadena, CA.) Hainley also was editor of Gary Indiana’s Vile Days: The Village Voice Art Columns 1985-1988, and was a finalist in the National Poetry Series for his 2006 book Foul Mouth. In 2003 he wrote Art—A Sex Book with filmmaker John Waters. Beginning January 2022, Hainley will oversee VADA, which features courses in film, photography, studio art and theater. 

John Sparagana, the current department chair, says of his successor, “Bruce Hainley is an extraordinary individual whose expansive and incisive mind has illuminated the art world with his writing, art criticism, curation and teaching for the last three decades. It is not an exaggeration to say that Bruce’s perceptions — his thinking, his writing — have shifted the existing paradigm, or generated new paradigms within the art field.”

VADA is scheduled to move from various buildings across campus, including the late Rice Media Center, into one brand-new VADA building at the entrance to the university’s Arts Corridor. Hainley states, “with the planning of a new building as well as new and diverse hires, VADA will be poised not only to offer the arts as a complement to other kinds of innovative pursuits at Rice… but also to facilitate even further dialogue and collaboration with the dynamic community of artists, designers and cultural producers in Greater Houston and beyond.”

More about the years-long process and Hainley’s involvement (from Rice University’s Office of Public Affairs): 

“[This] process will culminate in fresh spaces for studio art, photography, printmaking, cinema screenings, graduate studios, faculty offices, student art space and much more, all under one roof. Dean of Humanities Kathleen Canning notes that Hainleys international reputation will foster the advancement that the School of Humanities and VADA faculty seek for the department. Roughly a quarter of all Rice undergrads take VADA courses each semester, and demand for classes continues to grow across all majors.”


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HOWARD SHERMAN August 27, 2021 - 13:39

For Houston to have only one or two M.F.A. programs has always felt a bit anemic. Maybe this new guy will wrestle one into existence at Rice?

Denise A Madan October 3, 2021 - 14:35

I say Rice is very fortunate to have Bruce Hainley as their new chair. Mr. Hainley is passionate about the art world and those fortunate enough to be in his company will surely grow and learn


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