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Kinney named director of arts initiatives

Leila Kinney
Leila Kinney

Leila Kinney will become director of arts initiatives, effective Oct. 1, Associate Provost Philip S. Khoury announced today. 

Currently working as administrator for academic programs in comparative media studies, Kinney will work with the associate provost, the Office of the Arts, the MIT Museum, the List Visual Arts Center and the Creative Arts Council to advance the arts agenda at MIT in the areas of strategic planning, communications, resource development and cross-school collaborations.

"Leila Kinney already commands the respect and admiration of the many faculty and staff in the MIT arts community who collaborated with her when she was a faculty member and most recently as a member of the Creative Arts Council," Khoury said. "I am delighted she accepted to become director of arts initiatives, and I look forward to working closely with her for the higher good of MIT's outstanding arts institutions and programs."

Kinney is an art historian with experience in both the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT. In her current position, Kinney coordinates a thriving graduate, postdoctoral and visiting scholars program and guided the recent approval by the Institute of the bachelor of science degree in comparative media, the first interdisciplinary undergraduate degree established at the Institute.

Previously on the faculty in the history, theory and criticism section of the Department of Architecture, she specialized in modern art, with an emphasis on media in transition, arts institutions and artists' engagement with mass culture. Her publications have focused on early modernist painters, world fairs, hybrid artistic genres and new visual technologies in the 19th century. 

She also taught in the Program in Women's Studies and served on search committees for the Visual Arts Program and the List Visual Arts Center. For the College Art Association, Kinney worked on new media communications; she established their first web site, co-founded their electronic reviews journal and facilitated their advocacy for fair use of digital imagery.

"MIT offers unparalleled circumstances for artistic discovery and creativity," Kinney said. "Where else can one find creations such as a Sol LeWitt floor in the physics building, a sonic chandelier in the music library, a digitally controlled water pavilion and an electronic archive of Shakespeare performances alongside exquisite performances of both classical and original music, dance and theater by renowned faculty and over 50 student groups? MIT students are famously gifted in science, technology, engineering and math, and at the same time extraordinarily active in the arts. It is a distinctive aesthetic environment."

Kinney received a BA from Agnes Scott College with highest honors in English literature and art history and an MA from Yale University in history of art. She succeeds Lori Gross, who became associate provost for the arts and culture at Harvard University in July. 

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 10, 2008 (download PDF).

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