Brown Arts Initiatve Welcomes Ralph Lemon, Sebastian Ruth and Anne Waldman as Professors of the Practice for 2017-18 Academic Year


Providence, RI…For the 2017‒18 academic year, Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) at Brown University welcomes choreographer and writer Ralph Lemon, musician Sebastian Ruth, and poet Anne Waldman as Professors of the Practice. Established by the BAI in September 2016, and made possible by endowed gifts, Professor of the Practice (PoP) positions bring distinguished artists of all genres and other arts practitioners and professionals to the University to further enrich the Brown experience.

BAI Faculty Director and Professor of Music Joseph Butch Rovan said, “We are thrilled to welcome these talented, multi-faceted artists to the Brown campus. Given their respective bodies of work, we are confident they will enthusiastically support our mission to make Brown a national leader in experimental arts practice and scholarship.

BAI Managing Director Anne Bergeron said, “When developing the BAI, students expressed a keen interest in having access to working artists and exploring contemporary issues through the arts. The practices of this year’s PoPs dovetail with BAI’s interdisciplinary philosophy and complement the efforts of full-time faculty to meaningfully integrate the arts into the Brown curriculum.”

In addition to teaching, BAI PoPs contribute to thematic programming, resource center capabilities, and other extra-departmental needs. Lemon and Waldman have also participated in BAI-organized programs this fall that are free and open to the public. PoPs are provided with support, space, research funds, and the opportunity to work with students, other faculty, and staff across the University and the Providence arts community while advancing their own research and practice.

Ruth, along with writer, photographer, and filmmaker RaMell Ross, served as one of the BAI’s first PoPs in the 2016-17 academic year.

About Ralph Lemon

Ralph Lemon is a choreographer, director, writer, and installation artist who also serves as artistic director of Cross Performance, Inc., based in New York City. He develops intellectually rigorous and experimental performances that are as socially and politically resonant as they are personal. These include the multimedia collaboration How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? (2010); a commission for the Lyon Opera Ballet, Rescuing the Princess (2009); and the epic cycle The Geography Trilogy (1997‒2004).

His honors include the Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), a Creative Capital Award (2000), a United States Artists Fellowship (2006), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award (2012) and a National Medal of Arts bestowed by President Barack Obama in 2015. He has been artist-in-residence at the Krannert Center and Temple University. In 2009, he was an Institute for Diversity in the Arts Fellow at Stanford University. In Fall 2011, he was a Visiting Critic with the Yale University School of Art, Sculpture Department. He organized Some Sweet Day, a three-week dance series at the Museum of Modern Art (2012), and then served as a 2013-14 Wallis Annenberg Curatorial Fellow at the museum.

Lemon’s course at the BAI explores the physical, aesthetic, and performative relationship of the body to students’ cultural cosmologies and the creative process generally.

About Sebastian Ruth

Sebastian Ruth is a professional musician and educator committed to exploring connections between the arts and social change. A graduate of Brown University, he is the founder and artistic director of Community MusicWorks (CMW), a nationally recognized organization that connects professional musicians with urban youth and families in Providence, RI.

In 2010, CMW received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, and Ruth received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate from Brown University and was named by Strings Magazine as among the 25 most influential people in the string music world. Ruth served as a BAI PoP in music for the 2016‒17 academic year and, for 2017‒18, he will be a BAI PoP in music in collaboration with Brown’s Swearer Center for Public Service.

Ruth’s course examines the artist’s role in the world including an inquiry into a set of ideas in the philosophy of aesthetics and activism and developing social practice as an artist; the role of education; and musical and artistic initiatives focused on positive social impact.

About Anne Waldman

The author of more than 40 collections of poetry and poetics, Anne Waldman is an active member of the Outrider experimental poetry movement, and has been connected to the Beat movement and the second generation of the New York School. In 1974, with Allen Ginsberg, Waldman founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO. She co-founded the Poetry Is News collective with writer/scholar Ammiel Alcalay in 2002. Her work as a cultural activist and her practice of Tibetan Buddhism are deeply connected to her poetry. Her commitment to poetry extends beyond her own work to her support of alternative poetry communities. Waldman has collaborated extensively with visual artists, musicians, and dancers, and she regularly performs internationally.

Among her honors are grants from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has had residencies at the Civitella Ranieri Center, the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice, and Rockefeller Center’s Bellagio Center, and has received the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award. She has twice won the International Poetry Championship Bout in Taos, NM. In 1975-76, she was poet in residence with Bob Dylan’s concert tour, the Rolling Thunder Revue. Among her numerous publications are the much admired Fast Speaking Woman (1974), Marriage: A Sentence (2000), and the multi-volume Iovis project (1992, 1993, 1997). Waldman has also edited several anthologies, including The Beat Book (1996).

Waldman’s course immerses students in a range of possibilities as writers, artists, thinkers, and performers. They engage in multi-genre reading, writing experiments, image, video, voice, and instrumentation to create hybrid projects, either individually or collaboratively.

About the Brown Arts Initiative

The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) at Brown University seeks to cultivate creative expression and foster an interdisciplinary environment where faculty and students learn from one another and from artists and scholars in a wide range of fields across the campus and around the world. A consortium of six arts departments and two programs that encompass the performing, literary and visual arts, the BAI works collaboratively to enhance curricular and co-curricular offerings, directly engage students with prominent artists working in all genres and media, and supports a diverse program of concerts, performances, exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and symposia each year. The BAI takes full advantage of the University’s Open Curriculum and builds on Brown’s reputation as a destination for arts exploration, contributing to cultural enterprise through the integration of theory, practice, and scholarship with an emphasis on innovation and discovery that results from rigorous artmaking and experimentation. arts.brown.edu   

The BAI comprises and integrates History of Art and Architecture; Literary Arts; Modern Culture and Media; Music; Theatre Arts and Performance Studies; Visual Art; the David Winton Bell Gallery; and Rites and Reason Theatre/Africana Studies. 

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