Thalia Field ’88 MFA ’95, Adele Kellenberg Seaver professor of creative writing, was inaugurated as the new faculty director for the Brown Arts Initiative on Jan. 1, according to an announcement from Provost Richard Locke P’18.
After serving as the interim director since July 1, she officially replaced Professor of Music Joseph “Butch” Rovan, who will no longer continue as faculty director of the BAI after his return from sabbatical leave. Field’s promotion follows other changes at the BAI, as Anne Bergeron resigned from her former position as managing director of the BAI.
“After four fantastic years helping to birth the Brown Arts Initiative I have stepped down from my post to attend graduate school and pursue a few other projects,” Bergeron wrote in an email to The Herald. Bergeron’s role will be enveloped into the roles of existing and new staff members, Field wrote in an email to The Herald.
Field has been a professor in the University’s literary arts department since 2000 and has helped create the department’s graduate Digital and Cross-Disciplinary track, which combines writing with other mediums of art, Locke wrote. She has been involved with the BAI from its conception, as she chaired the Strategic Planning committee that helped transition the Creative Arts Council into the BAI in 2016.
“I have an intimate investment in the success of the BAI and in its role on campus,” Field said. Accepting the position “seemed like the right opportunity and the right moment to advance some of what I think is important about the BAI, like its role in supporting faculty and student work that is collaborative and interdisciplinary and super experimental,” she added.
Field acted as interim director for the BAI when the BAI executive committee, a group of faculty representatives from the six departments and two programs in the arts, searched for Rovan’s replacement. During her time as the interim director, Field worked with Brown Motion Pictures and Ivy Film Festival to coordinate their spring events, she wrote in an email to The Herald.
Locke commended Field for her “distinct perspective of Brown” as both an alum and a professor at the University. She brings a “requisite depth of knowledge, skills and experience to assume this position at this pivotal juncture,” Locke wrote. Field “emerged as the right choice” for faculty director because of her capability in “taking vision and giving it purpose and moving (the BAI) forward,” said Chira Delsesto, the associate director of the BAI.
Delsesto remarked that the committee is currently “heavily involved in planning the next three-year theme and what the programming for that looks like.” According to Delsesto, the three-year themes are one of the ways the BAI organizes its three guiding principles: “experimental, collaborative and engaged.” She added that another key focus for the BAI this semester will be future plans for the Performing Arts Center, which is expected to be completed in 2022.
As an artist that “works between and against genre in a certain way,” Field hopes to continue the interdisciplinary conversations the BAI enables within the University. One specific initiative she has planned for this semester is to broaden the ways both undergraduate and graduate students can get involved in the BAI. “I want to make the building more available to student work … there will be new and augmented ways for students to be involved here.”
Field’s ultimate hope for the BAI, this semester and beyond, is to continue the creativity and exploration it has been a part of encouraging.
“I want to make this (a) place for the unthinkable, the totally unexpected ... I want to really invite students to come here, dream big and make crazy work,” she said.