Providence, RI...The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) today announced highlights of its much-anticipated 2017‒18 season of programming, featuring influential musicians, poets, artists and filmmakers. In addition, on October 11, the BAI will present a conversation about the world-premiere of a multi-media performance piece by artist Kelly Nipper co-commissioned by the BAI and New York-based Performa and developed at Brown with students. Prominent artists and presenters for the upcoming season include:

  • Musicians Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal;
  • Dancer/choreographer Ralph Lemon;
  • Visual artists Nick Cave, Melvin Edwards, Shirin Neshat, and Wangechi Mutu;
  • Singer/composer Meredith Monk;
  • Studio Museum in Harlem director and chief curator Thelma Golden;
  • Sound artist Alan Nakagawa;
  • Interactive performance artist Pamela Z;
  • Poet Anne Waldman; and
  • Indie pop-folk duo The Weepies, among many others.

BAI Faculty Director Butch Rovan said, “We are delighted to present a vibrant roster of programming that showcases a variety of boundary-pushing, innovative artistic practices across disciplines that embody the BAI and Brown ethos. These diverse programs further position Brown as a catalyst for the presentation of leading-edge art-making and stimulating discourse about key issues in contemporary culture. We are pleased to invite the campus and wider Providence community to experience all the BAI has to offer in the 2017‒18 academic year.”

The BAI comprises six academic departments and two programs: 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. In addition to BAI’s programming, each department develops a host of performances, exhibitions, lectures, events, readings, screenings and festivals throughout the year.

All programs take place in the Martinos Auditorium of the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts on Brown’s campus unless otherwise noted. All are open to the public, and nearly all are free; some require advance registration. Because programs are subject to change, for more information click here.

Highlights of the 2017‒18 season include:

Preview of world premiere of Terre Mécanique by Kelly Nipper: In Conversation
October 11, 2017, 6:00 pm, Studio 1

Artist Kelly Nipper is joined in conversation by designers from the MIT Self-Assembly Lab and Performa founding director and curator RoseLee Goldberg discussing the artist’s new multimedia performance developed during a BAI-sponsored summer 2017 residency at the Granoff Center. This work represents the inaugural co-commission of a three-year collaboration between the BAI and New York City-based Performa. Nipper worked with dancer Marissa Ruazol, MIT designers, Brown students and others to explore and combine video, photography, movement, Rapid Liquid Printing, and the design and production of choreographic objects. The work premieres November 9-11, 2017 at Performa 17 in New York City. For more information see also

Terre Mécanique by Kelly Nipper: In Process
September 6–24, 2017, Cohen Gallery

This presentation features new artwork by Kelly Nipper and provides a glimpse into the development of a new multimedia performance with collaborators from the MIT Self-Assembly Lab and others during a BAI-sponsored residency at the Granoff Center.

Terre Mécanique launches a three-year collaboration between the BAI and Performa, the leading organization dedicated to exploring live performance in contemporary visual art.

Anne Waldman: In Conversation
September 25, 2017, 5:30 pm

Internationally acclaimed poet Anne Waldman has been an active member of the “Outrider” experimental poetry community. Associated with the Beat and New York School movements, she co-founded with Allen Ginsberg the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO. Waldman is a BAI professor of the practice in Literary Arts this academic year.

Pamela Z: Solo Works for Voice, Electronics, and Video
September 29, 2017, 7:00 pm, Studio 1

Award-winning composer, performer and media artist Pamela Z performs solo works for voice, real-time electronic processing, wireless gesture controllers and interactive video. She uses cutting-edge sensor systems to process her voice with physical gestures, creating mesmerizing layers of sound. Pamela Z’s performances showcase her inventive vocal technique, which ranges from experimental vocalizations to operatic bel canto.

Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal: Songwriting Master Class and Performance
October 4, 2017, 7:00 pm

Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter and author Rosanne Cash leads a songwriting master class and performs from her repertoire, including the acclaimed 2014 album, The River & the Thread. Cash is joined by longtime collaborator and husband John Leventhal, who served as the album’s producer, arranger, co-writer and guitarist. Participating master class songwriters perform as well. Visit here for ticket details.

Nick Cave: In Conversation
Inaugural Warren and Allison Kanders Lecture
October 18, 2017, 5:30 pm

Nick Cave is an artist, educator and dancer whose work involves sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. He is known for his Soundsuits, wearable sculptural forms made from found objects that, when worn, disguise human differences, remove preconceptions, make noise and reveal movement. He will be joined onstage by Denise Markonish, curator at MASS MoCA.

Sound Ideas: Close Listening, Podcasting, and the New Radio
October 23‒24, 2017, various times, Studio 1

A two-day series of workshops, presentations and panel discussions that highlight the role of sonic media and the power of listening in the world of new radio and podcasting. Sound Ideas features Rhode Island Public Radio’s CEO and general manager Torey Malatia, podcaster Morra Aarons-Mele ’98, sound artist Alan Nakagawa, and a performance by Chris Hoff and Sam Harnett, hosts of the podcast The World According to Sound. Presented in collaboration with the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship. Visit here to register.

The Weepies: In Concert
November 3, 2017, 7:00 pm
FREE for students; $10 Brown faculty and staff; $20 general public

Indie pop-folk duo Deb Talan ‘90 and Steve Tannen of The Weepies are known for their inspired songwriting and perfectly blended harmonies. They have recorded five studio albums, and their songs have been licensed for film and TV. Their 2008 hit Can’t Go Back Now was a campaign song for President Obama. Talan returns to Brown with Tannen to lead a songwriting workshop in the afternoon followed by an evening concert. Visit here for ticket details.

Ralph Lemon: In Conversation
November 6, 2017, 4:00 pm

Choreographer, director, and visual artist Ralph Lemon is artistic director of Cross Performance, a company known for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary performances and presentations. He develops experimental works that are personally meaningful and socially and politically relevant. Lemon is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2015 National Medal of Arts bestowed by President Obama. He serves as a BAI professor of the practice in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies in 2017-18.

Shirin Neshat: In Conversation
Warren and Allison Kanders Lecture Series
November 8, 2017, 5:30 pm

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian-born artist based in New York City recognized for her influential work in film, video and photography. Her subjects reveal contrasts between Islam and the West, femininity and masculinity, antiquity and modernity, and the spaces between them. Her award-winning work has been presented in museums, biennials and film festivals internationally.

Exhibition of work by Melvin Edwards
November 11, 2017–February 11, 2018
David Winton Bell Gallery

Melvin Edwards is a pioneer in the history of contemporary African American art and sculpture. His work reflects his engagement with the history of race, labor, violence and themes of the African Diaspora. His sculptural series Lynch Fragments spans three periods: the early 1960s, when he responded to racial violence in the U.S.; the early 1970s, when his activism concerning the Vietnam War motivated him to return to the series; and from 1978 to the present, as he continues to explore a variety of themes.

Thelma Golden: In Conversation
Warren and Allison Kanders Lecture Series
February 7, 2018, 5:30 pm

Thelma Golden is the director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem. Previously, she was a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art where she organized the influential exhibition Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in American Art (1994). She is known for shaping artist-centered shows about race, identity, politics and culture. At the Studio Museum, she has grown its reputation as a hub for exchanging ideas about art and society.

Wangechi Mutu: In Conversation
Warren and Allison Kanders Lecture Series
March 14, 2018, 5:30 pm

Kenyan native Wangechi Mutu joins Performa curator and Walker Art Center curator-at-large Adrienne Edwards in conversation to explore the influence of traditional African craft and cultural heritage on the artist’s work and storytelling. Edwards’ curatorial focus examines artists of the African Diaspora and the Global South.

Polar Opposites: Creative Interventions in the Arctic and Antarctica: Symposium on Arts and Environment
April 6, 2018, Various spaces in the Granoff Center

As part of its three-year programming on Arts and Environment, the BAI convenes artists, scientists and technologists in a day-long symposium to creatively address issues around climate change in the polar regions. David Buckland, an artist, videographer, designer, curator, writer and founder/director of Cape Farewell, an organization that engages innovators to combat climate change, will deliver the keynote address. Participating Brown faculty include Amanda Lynch, professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences and director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society; and Ed Osborn, associate professor of visual art. Other speakers to be announced. Registration required.

Meredith Monk and Anne Waldman: In Performance
April 13, 2018, 7:00 pm, Studio 1

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films and installations. Recognized as one of the most influential artists of our time, she is a pioneer in what is now called extended vocal technique and interdisciplinary performance. Her groundbreaking exploration of voice as an instrument expands the boundaries of musical composition. Monk will perform with poet, playwright and activist Anne Waldman, a 2017-18 BAI professor of the practice.

Additional information about the BAI and arts department programming is available here.

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.

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

Media Contacts:
For additional information, Libby Mark or Heather Meltzer at Bow Bridge Communications, LLC, New York City; +1 347-460-5566;

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