Rhonda Garelick, New Dean of ADHT, Combines Politics, Style, and Aesthetics in Her Work

On the surface, it wouldn’t seem like the gray streak in Tulsi Gabbard’s hair, Sean Spicer’s role on Dancing With the Stars, Burt Reynold’s status as a sex symbol, and the White House Christmas decorations under the Trump Administration would have anything in common. 

But for Rhonda Garelick, Dean of the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons School of Design, each topic can be used to explain a broader cultural theme, something she regularly does in her column, “Reading the Signs,” in New York Magazine’s The Cut.

Garelick, whose work investigates the connections between fashion, politics, aesthetics, and performance, joined Parsons last spring as a professor in ADHT, and recently became Dean of the school this past summer. 

“I had always dreamed of working at The New School, whose history and mission really resonate with me,” she says. “ADHT is a deeply interdisciplinary school, and the opportunity to be Dean offered an exciting opportunity to help lead a wonderful school, work with talented and diverse faculty and students, and also contribute to The New School in general.”

Garelick’s cultural criticism has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, Vanity Fair, and more. She is a Guggenheim fellow, and has received awards from the NEA, the NEH, the Getty Research Institute, among others. She was most recently a Professor of Performing Arts and English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she founded and directed the Interdisciplinary Arts Symposium, and has also taught at Princeton, Columbia University, the CUNY Graduate Center, Yale, and NYU.

With a deep background in interdisciplinary teaching, scholarship, and practice, Garelick is excited to lead ADHT into the future. She plans to strengthen existing programs, promote new ones, and create collaborations with programs in the New School for Social Research and the College of Performing Arts.

“My work in fashion history, literature, visual art, and performance studies all help me understand the many vectors of work being done, not only in ADHT but across Parsons and The New School,” says Garelick. “My work combines scholarly publications with more journalistic writing, so I have a sense of how different forms of scholarly and creative work done at a university can be “translated” into more popular formats and offered up to a larger community for bigger, more exciting conversations. As Dean I see my role partly as one of communicating, both within and among the university’s different schools and without, to the outer world.”