UH Arts Leadership: Leadership Profile: Ryan N. Dennis

Full interview by Justina Hall


What was your inspiration to lead in the arts?

While in the African American studies program at the University of Houston, I spent a lot of time considering what building a community would look like which led to my work with The Menil Collection. Kristina Van Dyke, who was the Curator of Collections at The Menil, spoke at one of my seminar classes and talked about curation in a way I hadn't heard before. Kristina discussed the influences of the de Menil’s on the city of Houston and the importance of their advocacy within the Civil Rights movement that led me to be curious but also, the way she spoke about her role at the Museum was extremely inspiring for me. By the end of the next day I’d called Kristina’s office and emailed her to discuss the possibilities of obtaining an internship within the curatorial department. I was extremely persistent and would not take no for an answer, a fact Kristina continues to remind me of even after all of these years.