Brown Arts

Nina Katchadourian | Advice from a Former Student (2010)

nina katchadourian Advice from a former student
Photo by Ian Alden Russell

Nina Katchadourian '89 

Advice from a Former Student, 2010

  • Audio recordings, infinite loop
  • Installed in the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center at Faunce House, near information desk

view of audio installation on wall
Photo by Ian Alden Russell

Advice from a Former Student is a sound work situated next to the information desk in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center in Faunce House. Renovated by Schwartz/Silver Architects, the Campus Center serves as a gathering place for the Brown community. The Public Art Committee solicited proposals from alumni artists for the student-centered space, and the submission of Nina Katchadourian, class of 1989, was chosen for its specificity to the students of the Brown community.

Katchadourian’s sound composition is intended to assist students as they navigate their college years. Marked by an abstract symbol of an ear, two mesh speakers installed in the wall play looped snippets of advice that were collected from Brown alumni, classes 1939 – 2010. For her audio samples, Katchadourian collected interviews during Commencement Weekend 2010 and in alumni clubs across the nation. She then edited these into shorter clips, 800 in total, ranging from five seconds to two minutes.

The guidance ranges from the humorous to the heartfelt in a powerful illustration of the diversity of the Brown community. Samples include: “Take a foreign language, it really wakes up the power of English.” “If you’re not having the ‘best time of your life’ right now in college, don’t sweat it. They’ll be plenty more good times to come, and you’re growing and learning more than you think you are.” “Brown University was the site of all my early lessons in unrequited love….” Through the montage, current students can benefit from the experiences of their predecessors. Katchadourian likens the installed speakers to an oracle dispensing a steady stream of wisdom.

Nationally recognized conceptual and multimedia artist, Katchadourian works in sculpture, photography, video, paper, mixed media, and sound. Intellect and humor are often the driving forces behind her work. Notable exhibitions include a solo show of video installations at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and a survey of her work entitled Opener 11: Nina Katchadourian: All Forms of Distraction at the Tang Museum of Skidmore College. Katchadourian’s work has also been included in exhibitions at the Sculpture Center, Wave Hill, the New Museum, and MoMA PS1 in New York.

student listening to audio installation in wall
Photo by Ian Alden Russell

two students listening to audio installation in wall
Nina Katchadourian Advice from a Former Student 2010