‘Raid the Archive: The de Menil Years at Rice’ exhibit now on display at Rice University

Opening reception takes place Oct. 12

A new exhibit at Rice University, “Raid the Archive: The de Menil Years at Rice,” calls attention to the important role Houston art patrons John and Dominique de Menil played in the founding of the university’s Media Center and the Rice Museum.

The exhibit is on display through Nov. 9 in the Rice Media Center’s Visual and Dramatic Arts Main Gallery, near campus Entrance 8, at the intersection of Stockton Drive and University Boulevard. The opening reception will be at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12.

In 1969, the de Menils founded the Media Center and the Rice Museum (known as the “Art Barn”), which were an integral part of the arts on campus then and continue to play a significant and inspirational role today, exhibit organizers said.

Curated by Rice visual arts professor John Sparagana and graduate student Katia Zavistovski, the exhibition comprises a selection of films, photography, exhibition posters, correspondence and other ephemera culled from the Menil archive – much of which has never been exhibited publicly. The materials assembled in the exhibition provide a rare look at the pioneering projects and people involved in the early years of the arts at Rice. 

The exhibit features a companion film series and panel discussions. The film series will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Media Center’s Rice Cinema film auditorium. It will feature screenings of films associated with de Menil patronage and cinematic documents of de Menil activity at Rice. The film program will have a dual focus on the art of installation and on the filmmakers. The two buildings, the two missions and the two approaches are laid out in the art exhibitions and films that were part of the everyday creative life at the Media Center. This series will offer a window on a creative time that can serve as a model for the future, according to organizers.

Two panel discussions will take place Oct. 14 in the Rice Cinema film auditorium. The panelists all played a central role at the Rice Museum or Media Center during the de Menil years or have a vital connection to that period. 

The 1 p.m. panel will focus on the history of the Rice Museum and feature William Camfield, Rice’s Joseph and Joanna Nazro Mullen Professor Emeritus of Art History; Helen Fosdick, founding director of the Dia Art Foundation; arts patron and preservation activist Suzanne Deal Booth; and conceptual artist Mel Chin.

The 3:30 p.m. discussion will examine de Menil era Media Center experimentation, production and presentation. Panelists will be Gerald O’Grady, founding director of the Rice Media Center; Thomas McEvilley, Rice lecturer emeritus in art and art history and critic; Tish Stringer, documentary filmmaker and Rice Visual and Dramatic Arts Film Program manager; and Edward Hugetz, documentary filmmaker and University of Houston associate vice president for planning.

All events are free and open to the public. For a campus map and parking information, visit http://rice.edu/parking.      

For more information about the exhibit and Rice’s Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, visit http://arts.rice.edu/.   

About Jeff Falk