October 01, 2021
By Jordan Berkovitz
With a new academic year at the Cleveland Institute of Art comes faculty transitions and additions. Notable changes include Jared Bendis being named chair of Game Design; Nicole Condon-Shih being named chair of Foundation; and Elizabeth Rauh, PhD joining CIA as the Art History faculty-in-residence.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Rauh join CIA this year, as her background and expertise in Islamic art and Middle Eastern visual culture, along with her decolonized approach to art history pedagogy, will bring an expanded and essential perspective to our academic portfolio,” says Kathryn Heidemann, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs + Chief Operating Officer. “Likewise, although Condon-Shih and Bendis are not new to CIA, in their new roles as chairs, they have already begun to make great strides with respect to curriculum development, strategic alignment and continuous improvement in support of student success.”
Bendis, a 2004 CIA alum, specializes in game design, virtual reality, photography, and interactive and new media. Outside of CIA, he serves as Creative New Media Officer for Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library; owns/co-owns two app development firms; and appears on Ideastream Public Media’s The Sound of Ideas.
“I’ve been teaching here at CIA in the Game Design program since 2013 and it’s been a real joy to prepare these students to enter this booming industry,” Bendis says. “As chair, I look forward to being able to guide our students on their creative and academic journey and help them (and CIA) make a mark on the industry. There is an enormous opportunity for our students and the school.”
Condon-Shih began teaching at CIA in 2016. She became the Foundation chair following the retirement of longtime chair Petra Soesemann. Condon-Shih is an interdisciplinary artist who explores the intersection of art and science in a research-based creative practice, focusing her research toward an innovative first-year curriculum.
“My first priority is to build strong communication between Foundation, Liberal Arts and major departments in an effort to build bridges,” Condon-Shih says. “I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to strengthen the overall first-year experience for students. Together, we will define future priorities and innovate new structures for a robust Foundation education in today’s shifting pedagogical landscape.”
Rauh is an art historian of modern and contemporary arts of Iran, Iraq and Western Asia. Her work examines artist engagements with Islamic heritage, popular image practices and technologies in Shi`i Islam, and arts of the 20th century “Shi`i Left.” She also researches the ecological art practices in the history of the Persian Gulf.
“I am excited to bring my research field and other global and less well-known histories of modern and contemporary art practices into the course curriculum,” Rauh says. “One of my aims this year in exploring histories of art and visuality is to cultivate critical thinking in and about the classroom. I look forward to learning more from CIA’s students, faculty and staff, and from the broader Cleveland arts community, what creative issues are most relevant and urgent as we navigate the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and this political moment in history.”
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