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Brown Arts Initiative Announces Spring 2019 Programming Highlights to be Presented at Brown University

The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI), together with its member departments and programs at Brown University, today announced highlights of its spring 2019 season. Showcasing a multiplicity of disciplines, programming will feature influential artists, curators, filmmakers, musicians, designers and writers who will present their work, ideas and perspectives frequently addressing critical issues of the day. New this season is a yearlong series The Sensory exploring the senses through a range of media. Students’ work will be presented in exhibitions, festivals and performances. Unless otherwise noted, all programs are free and open to the public.

Among the prominent artists and presenters for the upcoming season are:
• Artist and activist Tania Bruguera,
• Architect Joshua Ramus,
• Artist and educator Christine Sun Kim,
• Musicians and songwriters Tank and the Bangas,
• Filmmaker Isaac Julien,
• Photographers Bill Jacobson and Jimmy Fike,
• Singer-songwriter and guitarist Dar Williams,
• Poets Cecilia Vicuña and Alice Notely,
• Members of the feminist, activist artists group the Guerilla Girls, and
• Whitney Museum of American Art director Adam Weinberg; among many others.

On May 23‒25, 2019, the Department of Africana Studies’ Rites and Reason Theatre will present WalkOut!, a one-act play commemorating an event in 1968 when 95 black students at Brown walked out of classes to advocate for increased black student enrollment. Black Lavender Experience is a series of performances and workshops with LGBT+ artists of color held at various times April 9‒13. These Rites and Reason Theatre programs take place in Churchill House (155 Angell Street)
Other annual events include the French Film Festival February 21‒March 1; Cinema Ritrovato (Italian) film festival March 14‒17; and Festival of Dance May 2‒5.

BAI Faculty Director Butch Rovan said, “Our spring season encompasses a wide variety of artistic disciplines and practices that contribute to contemporary society. We look forward to facilitating critical dialogue on the arts by sharing their ideas and insights with our students, faculty, staff and the greater Providence community.”

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

Highlights of the spring 2019 season include:

Interrupt V
February 8–9, 2019, various times
Martinos Auditorium and other Granoff Center sites

Interrupt V is a two-day festival of language-driven digital art. Celebrating the intersection of writing and new media, it involves readings, exhibitions, performances and video screenings, along with symposia investigating “interruption” in poetry and language-based contemporary art and performance. Invited artists include Claire Donato, Ian Hatcher, Judd Morrisey, Anna Moschovakis, Keith and Mendi Obadike, Sondra Perry and others.

Joshua Ramus: In Conversation
February 13, 5:30 pm
Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

Joshua Ramus is founding principal of REX, an internationally acclaimed architecture and design firm based in New York City. Signature projects include the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center in Istanbul and the Seattle Central Library. REX is currently designing the new performing arts center at Brown.

Kukuruz Quartet | Julius Eastman & New Works
February 15, 7:00 pm
Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

The Kukuruz Quartet (from Zurich) presents rarely played compositions by Julius Eastman with new works by Brown-affiliated artists Erik DeLuca, Alexander Dupuis, Seamus Hubbard Flynn, Kristina Warren and Marcel Zaes.

Christine Sun Kim: In Performance
March 6, 7:00 pm
Studio 1, Granoff Center

Artist and educator Christine Sun Kim uses drawing and sound in performance to investigate her relationship with spoken language and the aural environment. Kim discusses her quirky, playful and rule-bending work, which she has exhibited and performed at White Space Beijing, London’s Carroll/Fletcher gallery, Shanghai Biennale, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 in New York.

Tania Bruguera: In Conversation
March 11, 5:30 pm, registration required
Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

Installation and performance artist Tania Bruguera works with people to expose, critique and change the institutional structures and political dynamics that impact the lives of the most vulnerable individuals in societies across the globe. “All of my work is a social experiment,” she told viewers of her recent project at the Tate Modern in London, “and my biggest inspiration is injustice.” She is serving as a BAI professor of the practice in spring 2019.

Bill Jacobson: Artist Talk
March 12, 5:30 pm
List Art Building, Room 120 (64 College Street)

Photographer and Brown alum Bill Jacobson ’77 is best recognized for his ghostly, out-of-focus images of people. Begun during the height of the AIDS epidemic, his images evoke both loss and the futility of capturing true human likenesses in portraiture and memory. In recent years, Jacobson has investigated geometry and space in natural and man-made settings.

Dar Williams: In Concert
BAI Songwriting Series Workshop
March 13, 12:00–2:00 pm
Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

Community is at the heart of singer-songwriter and guitarist Dar Williams’ music. She “sings about things that are part of the human condition,” writes Melissa Cynova in, telling stories with candor and humor. Williams will be leading a BAI Songwriting Series workshop which is open to select participants by audition and to everyone else as audience members.

BAI Songwriting Series performance by Dar Williams: 7:00 pm; free for students, $10 Brown faculty and staff, $20 general public

Cecilia Vicuña: Artist Talk
March 13, 5:00 pm, List Art Building, Room 120 (64 College Street)
March 14, 5:30 pm, McCormack Family Theater (70 Brown Street)
Poetry reading and conversation

Poet, artist, filmmaker and activist Cecilia Vicuña makes work that addresses issues of our time, including ecological destruction, human rights and cultural homogenization. Her multi-dimensional works often begin as poems revealing images that morph into film, song, sculpture and performance.

Sensescapes of the Topkapı Palace in Ottoman Istanbul
March 14, 5:30 pm, List Art Building, Room 110 (64 College Street)

Nina Macaraig of Koç University in Istanbul presents a talk on Ottoman architectural history—in particular, the Topkapı Palace, bathhouses and soup kitchens—as well as sensory aspects of the built environment in Ottoman Istanbul. Her lecture is part of a year-long series called The Sensory.

Isaac Julien: In Conversation
Warren and Allison Kanders Lecture Series
March 20, 5:30 pm, registration required
Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

Isaac Julien is best known for his multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporating different artistic disciplines to create a unique poetic and visual language. His docu-drama Looking for Langston (1989) about Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance began a multi-faceted practice often inspired by contemporary events. A native of London, he was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2017.

Your Ocean, My Ocean
Presented with University of California, Irvine Emergent Media + Design Program
April 1–2, 7:00 pm, registration required
Studio 1, Granoff Center

Your Ocean, My Ocean is an experimental intermedia performance about environmentalism, climate justice and community engagement. Created by a transdisciplinary group of artists and designers, the work features live performance; multi-channel video that responds to the precarious beauty of ocean ecosystems; and crowd-sourced social media that enables audiences to submit their own images, short videos and text messages.

Tank and the Bangas: In Concert
BAI Songwriting Series
April 3, 12:00–2:00 pm
Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

New Orleans-based band Tank and the Bangas combines rock, gospel, funk, folk, soul, hip-hop and spoken word to create a signature sound. The band’s sound—drum, bass, synthesizer, saxophone and flute—complements the infectious energy of lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball. In 2017, the band won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest, which brought much deserved recognition for Tank’s distinctive style. Tank and the Bangas will be leading a BAI Songwriting Series workshop which is open to select participants by audition and to everyone else as audience members.

BAI Songwriting Series performance by Tank and the Bangas: 7:00 pm; free for students, $10 Brown faculty and staff, $20 general public

Guerilla Girls: Artist Talk
April 3, 5:00 pm, List Art Building, Room 120 (64 College Street)

Formed in New York City in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of feminist activist artists devoted to fighting sexism and racism in the art world. Through exhibitions, projects, protests and other activities around the world, the group seeks to address gender and racial inequality in politics, art, film and other forms of popular culture. They wear gorilla masks in public forums to conceal their identities.

Wild Edible Botanicals
April 4‒June 14; reception: April 18, 5:30 pm
Atrium Gallery, Granoff Center

Since 2008, Jimmy Fike has been creating a photographic archive depicting America’s rich trove of wild edible flora. The project has taken him to 15 different states to amass a collection of over 140 specimens. His botanical images function as reliable guides for foraging. They also ask the viewer to contemplate evolution and humans’ relationship to the plant kingdom.

Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson: The Only Show in Town
April 6‒May 26; artist talk and reception: April 5, 5:30 pm, David Winton Bell Gallery, List Art Building (64 College Street)

Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson’s socially engaged projects explore contemporary relationships between human and non-human animals in the contexts of history, culture and the environment. The exhibition comprises works made in response to the plight of the saltmarsh sparrow. Its sole habitat along a narrow and depleting margin of North America’s east coast, the species is marked for extinction by the year 2050.

Adam Weinberg: In Conversation
Warren and Allison Kanders Lecture Series
April 17, 5:30 pm, registration required
Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center

Adam D. Weinberg has served as director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York since 2003. During his tenure, the Museum has presented hundreds of acclaimed exhibitions and educational programs, expanded its permanent collection and, in 2015, opened its Renzo Piano-designed building in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Weinberg shares his up-close view of the art world from his nearly four decades as a museum curator and director.

Alice Notley: Poetry Reading and Conversation
April 18, 5:30 pm, McCormack Family Theatre (70 Brown Street)

Alice Notley reads from her work and discusses her life in letters. With a career spanning a half century, Notley has been identified as part of the second generation of New York School poets, while also questioning this designation. With over 25 books published, Notley has received numerous honors, including the Griffin International Poetry Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

Neurodiversity and the Practice of World-Making: An Interdisciplinary Symposium
May 2–3, various times, Lyman Hall (83 Waterman Street)

This two-day interdisciplinary symposium features performances, lectures, roundtable discussions and workshops exploring the emerging concepts of neurodiversity and neurodivergence—terms originally developed by autistic activists and mental health self-advocates seeking to destigmatize autism and other forms of mental, neurological and cognitive disability and difference.

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, 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. 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.

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.

More information:

Tank and the Bangas. Photo © Gus Bennett.