Arts & Environment 2017-2020
The strategic plan for the arts at Brown calls for three-year programmatic themes designed to address important contemporary questions that engage faculty and students from diverse departments, as well as the greater Providence community and the general public. Programs are also intended to contribute to ongoing interchange among internationally-recognized artists, thought leaders and scholars beyond Brown. Within each theme, the BAI sponsors research, symposia, courses, exhibitions, performances, festivals, institutional collaborations and more.
In association with its March 2017 public launch, the BAI unveiled its inaugural theme of Arts & Environment. Intended for broad interpretation, thematic programming addresses topics as varied as natural and manmade landscapes, constructed environments, media ecologies, global connections, climate concerns and the like.
The first convening of the Brown Arts Initiative, re|ACT: symposium on arts and environment, brought together over 20 cutting-edge international artists, scholars and designers to showcase the latest arts practices and research that reacts to and engages with the environment. In addition to two keynotes — by Natalie Jeremijenko and Mierle Laderman Ukeles — and five panels, the program included an exhibition, installations, concerts and a staged reading.
The second convening, in April 2018, engaged artists, scientists and researchers addressing issues that impact the polar regions, especially climate change. Polar Opposites: Creative Interventions in the Arctic and Antarctica featured panel discussions, exhibitions, installations and film screenings, plus a keynote by David Buckland, an artist talk and concert. It was part of a larger university initiative entitled WeatherProof: Arts, Humanities and Sciences Explore the Environment, which brought together five programs at Brown examining pressing environmental issues.
The third symposium, Terra: Art | Land | Justice, in September 2019, reflects on humanity's relationship to land through a cultural and social justice lens. Activist artists and scholars, a designer, curator, poet/farmer, chef and local food provider discuss issues of nurturance, sustenance, access, respite and intervention. Related programs feature exhibitions, film screenings and a pop up food market.