IGNITE series to welcome world-class artists, showcase Brown’s diverse arts scholarship

Launching with the opening of the Lindemann Performing Arts Center in October 2023, the IGNITE series will include performances, exhibitions and events that demonstrate how art can be a powerful vehicle for change.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — To celebrate the Fall 2023 opening of The Lindemann Performing Arts Center at Brown University, the Brown Arts Institute will host world-class artists, never-before-seen performances, thought-provoking exhibitions and multi-disciplinary symposia as part of the new arts series IGNITE. Presented in collaboration with campus and regional partners, the series will showcase boundary-pushing projects that demonstrate how art can be a powerful vehicle for social change.

Ignite series logoThe University will celebrate the opening of The Lindemann in October 2023, with the IGNITE series launching that month and continuing through the end of 2024. The series will feature projects generated by visiting artists from New England, across the U.S. and beyond, and highlight the rigorous scholarship and artistic talent within Brown’s own departments, all while inviting members of the Brown and Providence communities to collaborate with artists as they research and develop projects. The series aims to open a transformative new chapter for the arts at Brown by bringing students, faculty, staff and community members into the creative process, according to BAI Artistic Director Avery Willis Hoffman.

Hoffman explained that the IGNITE Series, with its diverse lineup of guest artists, public events and art forms, will demonstrate the endless possibilities afforded by the new performing arts center and additional arts venues in the University’s Perelman Arts District.

“A truly one-of-a-kind performing arts center demands one-of-a-kind programming that breaks down walls between artists and scholars and challenges the status quo,” Hoffman said. “The IGNITE series is designed to inspire people to dream bigger, together, whether they are artists innovating across and beyond their disciplines, scholars committed to solving complex social problems, or citizens interested in seeing the world differently.”

The Lindemann was designed expressly to inspire such innovative artmaking, Hoffman said. Designed by New York architecture firm REX, the building’s state-of-the-art main performance hall can transform into any of five vastly different stage and audience configurations — ranging from a 530-seat symphony orchestra hall, to a 275-seat proscenium theater, to an immersive surround-sound cube for experimental media performance. Beyond the main hall, a suite of studios, rehearsal spaces and intimate performance venues that have been custom designed for theater, music and dance will serve as academic resources for students and faculty. A transparent “clearstory” that intersects the building offers those outside the center a view of performances, rehearsals and arts research, inviting the community to witness and engage in the creation of art within the building.

Welcoming artistic innovators

Hoffman said the IGNITE series is anchored by six large-scale collaborative residencies by highly respected international artists who work across artistic mediums to share unique insights into pressing issues such as systemic racism, economic inequality and climate change. All six are part of the institute’s Artistic Innovators Collective, a fluid think tank of about 40 artists from across the globe who regularly engage with Brown community members in a variety of ways — pushing the boundaries of discipline, teaching, working, experimenting, taking risks and undertaking rigorous and long-term creative exchanges with campus and surrounding communities. 

Throughout the Spring 2023 semester, the artist and activist Carrie Mae Weems — perhaps best known for her photographic “Kitchen Table Series,” which reflects her everyday experiences as a Black woman — taught a BAI course in which she worked with students, BAI staff and scholars across campus to create “Varying Shades of Brown,” a project focused on the history of violence in the U.S. New and existing work by Weems will be exhibited across campus in Spring 2023, including at The Lindemann, the David Winton Bell Gallery, the Cohen Gallery and other public spaces.

The draftsman, performer and filmmaker William Kentridge and his Centre for the Less Good Idea will engage in a collaborative residency through Spring 2024, bringing to campus a critically lauded performance that upends traditional accounts of colonial history. He will also lead cross-campus conversations about the value of revisiting and reinterpreting images from the past, and his center will collaborate with students and scholars on experimental new works. Kentridge has won acclaim for his animated films that probe social and political issues in his native South Africa, including apartheid.

“ A truly one-of-a-kind performing arts center demands one-of-a-kind programming that breaks down walls between artists and scholars and challenges the status quo. ”

Avery Willis Hoffman Artistic Director, Brown Arts Institute

Spring 2024 will also bring to campus the artist and activist Tanya Tagaq, the genre-bending music ensemble Kronos Quartet and an Inuit women’s choir for a visually engaging set of programs and concerts highlighting Indigenous culture and Indigenous peoples’ close ties to the land.

From Summer 2023 to Summer 2024, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, artist Chachi Carvalho will partner with BAI on “Local Traffic,” a project that aims to forge long-term connections between students, faculty, surrounding communities and a global network of artists and producers. Offerings will include a mini conference on international hip-hop and art, community pop-up events on and off campus, a sound-testing project for The Lindemann, and a celebratory event for building laborers and their families.

Through a Spring 2024 course, Kym Moore, a Brown professor of theater arts and performance studies, will develop “Do Eye Know You?” with students and collaborators from her Antigravity Performance Project. Moore will invite the Brown and local communities into the development of a multidimensional performance project that travels from 13th-century France to civil rights-era Selma, Alabama, to realms of existence beyond the third dimension. The project will premiere in Fall 2024 in The Lindemann.

As part of the inaugural programs for IGNITE, BAI will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City with a collaborative project led by Caridad “La Bruja” De La Luz, a world-renowned spoken word artist. La Bruja will curate a spoken word festival in Fall 2024 featuring students, local poets and notable spoken word artists from across the country and globe.

Sparking academic creativity

In addition to its residencies, IGNITE will include performances, exhibitions and talks that showcase the rigorous arts research and artistic talent within Brown’s own arts departments.

“Arts scholars at Brown are among the most innovative thinkers and makers in the world,” said BAI Faculty Director Kent Kleinman. “The Lindemann’s radically flexible spaces will not only invite new possibilities for their creative practices, enhancing their rigorous, boundary-pushing scholarship — they will also provide new ways for members of the Brown and Providence communities to witness their artmaking and research as it unfolds, offering a window into how scholars use creative expression to confront complex global problems.”

Do Eye Know You?


Through a Spring 2024 course, Brown Professor Kym Moore will work with students and others to develop a multidimensional performance project.

The Rites and Reason Theatre within the Department of Africana Studies, one of the oldest Black theaters in the U.S., plans to present a reimagined performance of the 1975 play “Providence Garden Blues” by the theater’s late founder, George Houston Bass. The play explores the lives of a thriving middle-class Black community that was displaced from Providence’s East Side by post-World War II redevelopment.

In a partnership between artists and scientists that demonstrates Brown’s characteristic cross-disciplinary scholarship, the Department of Literary Arts will host a cluster of events exploring the theme of sustaining life on Earth, focused primarily on the waterways and watershed of Providence.

And the Department of Music will bring three acclaimed guest artists to College Hill for performance-based residencies that explore ways in which music forms community and explores humans’ relationship with their physical and spiritual environments.

Other department-led programs will include a series of conversations on the role of light in art and architectural history, a conference on media ecologies and infrastructures, a two-day gathering showcasing the ways in which Brown’s Theatre Arts and Performance Studies department integrates practice and theory in its curriculum, and a Jewelry District exhibition featuring work from Brown faculty, staff and students and local artists.

Training the next generation of artists

Throughout the IGNITE series and beyond, students at Brown will have plentiful opportunities to interact and collaborate with artists as they research and develop creative projects — providing crucial hands-on experience as they explore creative career options.

A series of BAI Artist@Work courses, developed to equip students with a variety of skills that prepare them to join the artistic workforce, will give students the opportunity to learn alongside arts practitioners as they brainstorm, create and refine their work. Among those practitioners is Weems, as well as other boundary-pushing artists such as composer William Brittelle, playwright and director Murielle Borst-Tarrant and choreographer and performer Okwui Okpokwasili, who have all joined Brown as visiting professors of the practice.

Hoffman said those artists and others in BAI’s Artistic Innovators Collective will continue to meet regularly in the years to come, seeking fresh ways to support, amplify and add new dimensions to creative practices at Brown and in the wider community.

“The IGNITE series marks the beginning of The Lindemann’s long life,” Hoffman said. “The Artistic Innovators Collective will endure to ensure The Lindemann’s future is equally exciting. With the support of the collective, BAI will continue to push boundaries, showcase innovative, cross-disciplinary creativity and confront the most pressing social issues of our time through a variety of programming opportunities.”

Details of IGNITE Artistic Innovator projects

Full descriptions of each Artistic Innovator project, beginning in Fall 2023 and concluding in Fall 2024, are below. More information about the IGNITE series, The Lindemann and the Perelman Arts District is available on the Brown Arts website.

Carrie Mae Weems: “Varying Shades of Brown” (November to December 2023)

Building on past collaborations, esteemed artist Carrie Mae Weems and Avery Willis Hoffman (artistic director of the Brown Arts Institute) have spent the past few years deepening a complex and evolving conversation around the artist’s career-long reflection on the history of violence in America. “Varying Shades of Brown,” an ambitious biennial-esque project, will activate Brown’s campus throughout Fall 2023, featuring new and existing works for The Lindemann, David Winton Bell Gallery, Cohen Gallery and other sites across Brown’s public spaces and public art program. Weems’ hallmark convening series continues for a fourth iteration on campus; highlights include collaborations with artists, activists, community organizers, students and Brown faculty.

William Kentridge and the Centre for the Less Good Idea (Spring 2024)

Embracing the central methodologies of the Centre for the Less Good Idea — collaborative making, free-spirited engagement with materials, the act of allowing oneself to be led by image, sound and impulse — William Kentridge and members of the center invite participants from across the Brown community to join in surfacing, rupturing, re-reading and activating the heavy histories and enduring realities. The center asks: “How do we begin to look at an image collectively? What are the ways in which a visual archive — entrenched in the heavy histories — begins to speak?” In provoking and surfacing the narratives embedded in these archives, it is music, performance, improvisation and collaboration that can become vital tools for re-reading images in a contemporary way. The collaborative residency includes the center’s presentation of the acclaimed “Houseboy” in The Lindemann. Developed at The Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, South Africa, and directed by William Kentridge, “Houseboy” is based on the 1956 novel by Cameroonian diplomat Ferdinand Oyono.

Tanya Tagaq (Spring 2024)

Artist and activist Tanya Tagaq engages with Brown communities through a number of ongoing projects that express her deep engagement with the land and advocacy for Indigenous peoples. Tagaq’s collaborative residency includes an extension of her filmmaking collaboration with director Chelsea McMullan (filming in Nunavut and a screening of “Ever Deadly,” 2022); a reading of her bestselling novel “Split Tooth” (2018); performances of collaborative music-making and new commissions with Kronos Quartet and Inuit throat singers; and the sharing of an immersive animation of the land in different seasons, co-created with digital artist Driftnote.

Chachi Carvalho: “Local Traffic” (Summer 2024)

“Local Traffic,” a partnership between Pawtucket, Rhode Island, artist Chachi Carvalho, local artists and curators, and the BAI, aims to durationally enrich The Lindemann Performing Arts Center with activations by a diverse talent of artists working to establish long-term connections between students, faculty, surrounding communities and a global network of artists and producers. Programming includes informal Cypher Formations to shape future programming, pro”fresh”ional development conversations and workshops, and community pop-up events on campus and in surrounding communities. Public events include Sound Check (a Lindemann sound-testing project), Labor of Love (a celebratory event for building laborers and their families), and Global Cafe (an International Hip-Hop and Art Mini-Conference).

Kym Moore and Antigravity Performance Project: “Do Eye Know You?” (Fall 2024)

Kym Moore, a professor of theatre arts and performance studies at Brown, embarks on a collaborative residency with her renowned Antigravity Performance Project, inviting students and Brown communities into the iterative processes of genre-pushing project creation, from concept to production. “Do Eye Know You?” takes the viewer/audience into a multidimensional world that imagines a shared past between two archetypal figures: Sienna (an African American woman) and Jason (a white man) living in present-day Harlem. While their initial encounter begins with a conflict regarding gentrification, it also becomes the catalyst for a journey that takes them into past lives spanning 13th-century France, the Civil Rights Era in Selma, Alabama, and realms of existence beyond third-dimensional reality.

Caridad “La Bruja” De La Luz (Fall 2024)

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City, the BAI is collaborating with Caridad De La Luz, a world-renowned spoken word artist known as “La Bruja” and executive director of the Nuyorican, to curate a spoken word festival during the opening year of the new Lindemann Performing Arts Center. The festival will feature students, local poets and notable spoken word artists from around the country and beyond.