John Rich, former director of the Guild Literary Complex, has left his position with the literary organization to assume the role of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Manager of Performance Programs.
Rich began his transition to the MCA on August 31, and will continue to work closely with the Guild Board of Directors throughout the fall to ensure a smooth departure and assist in looking for his replacement. “John has generously offered to help on a part-time basis for the next couple of months to make sure we are covered during the time it takes to find an excellent replacement,” Guild president Mike Puican said in an email interview. “At our last board meeting, we had an opportunity to express how much his work has benefited the Guild Complex and what a delight it has been to work with John.”
Rich’s transition from the literary arena to performance art stems from his longstanding interest in theater, dance, film and music, stemming from his collegiate years during which he co-founded a theater company, Grand Rapids’ Attention Deficit Drama. He cites performance art as having a great potential to influence his writing and other artistic work. “I have always held in high regard the work of the MCA, especially their performance programming… My interest and connection to performance is long and continuous,” Rich said via email. “Performance has been a through-line for my work, and is aligned with how I think with image, movement and text.”
Rich said he thinks in many ways this new position will echo some of his responsibilities he had as the GLC’s director. “I look forward to working in a context that integrates my creative interests through live art,” he wrote. “In many ways, this is comparable to the work I did at the Guild, where interdisciplinary was managed through a literary lens (our Applied Words series, for instance, which connects literature to non-literary disciplines, like architecture, technology, health, social justice, etc.)”
Reginald Gibbons, the Guild’s vice president, lauded Rich’s many contributions to the organization, including expansion of GLC’s influence across the city, establishing partnerships with other arts organizations throughout Chicago and creating several initiatives and programs to increase the group’s recognition in the national literary community. “He will be very much missed by all the board members and all those in the larger writing and arts community of Guild,” Gibbons wrote over email. “I loved working with him.”
It is the interpersonal connections Rich formed at Guild Literary Complex that he will miss most, he said. “My work at the Guild has been rewarding in great part because of the personal relationships I now have with so many fine artists, collaborators, audience members, and supporters,” Rich said. “Ultimately, it is the people of the Guild that I will miss most. My tenure at the Guild has been the most rewarding of my professional life… The Guild and the MCA have collaborated in the past, and there may be some more collaborations in the near future. We are all in the same work, the same family.” (Marissa Page)