Kent Kleinman appointed faculty director of the Brown Arts Institute

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Kleinman received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Since the 1990s, Kleinman has engaged in scholarly work primarily focused on 20th Century European modernity. He is the recipient of two Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grants, four Graham Foundation grants, a Rudy Bruner Award, and two Architect’s Journal Top 10 Books of the Year. Design Intelligence has twice named Kleinman one of its top 25 Most Admired Educators in the past decade.

Kleinman said what fascinated him about BAI, and Brown as a whole, was their treatment of the arts as a fundamental research method.

“Text-based and symbolic-logic-based science are critical to gaining new insights, but there is another way to study the human condition and that’s through art,” he said. “A performance, a choreographed dance, a score, a mark on a piece of paper – these can also be research units that ask fundamental questions about being human. We are dealing with big issues related to the human condition – issues of social justice, sustainability – and so it is helpful to get perspectives not only from scientists and humanities scholars but also from artists.”

Kleinman said the structure of the BAI also appealed to him. The Institute brings together individual academic arts departments under one roof, facilitating collaboration between disciplines and paving the way for unique courses, research projects, and creative endeavors. He said he hopes to build on Brown grantees’ natural tendency to collaborate, not just across disciplines but across campus boundaries. Brown and RISD already work closely together on dual undergraduate and graduate programs, and their community members regularly join forces to found student organizations, curate exhibitions, and launch creative projects.

“Having come to know RISD well over the past several years, I can say with confidence that the two institutions share a common creative spirit but bring distinct strengths,” Kleinman said. “Improving this existing relationship so it can thrive benefits everyone, including the surrounding communities.”

Working closely with Hoffman to direct the Brown Arts Institute, Kleinman will report directly to Locke and participate in fundraising and new faculty initiatives and hiring, as well as the development of all academic programs. He will play a central role in outreach to advance Brown’s strategic goal of becoming the university of choice for talented, diverse faculty and students seeking excellence in creative production, performance, scholarship and education across all arts.

Kleinman succeeds Thalia Field, who will complete her tenure as BAI faculty director this summer and return to her full-time role as Brown Professor of Creative Writing.

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