September 20, 2023

On Sept. 1, 2022, Texas A&M University officially launched its new School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts (PVFA). Uniting three foundational disciplines previously housed separately across the university—visualization, performance studies and dance science—the school aims to be more than the average arts program. University leaders envision a bustling academic community marrying arts, science and technology, endowing students with the interdisciplinary acumen to succeed in any field where creativity is appreciated and enabling researchers to explore unique interactions between applied science and human expression.  

Before taking the reins as the school’s inaugural interim dean, Tim McLaughlin ’90 ’94 graduated from Texas A&M’s visualization program when it first began as a graduate program in the School of Architecture. After enjoying a remarkable career crafting special effects for films like “War of the Worlds,” “Jumanji” and “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” McLaughlin returned to Aggieland in 2007 to head the program which had then grown into a full-fledged department. Now that visualization has become a pivotal component of PVFA, McLaughlin has embraced the opportunity to help establish the fledgling but ambitious school as a destination for creatives.


His first priority: building state-of-the-art facilities for the visual and performing arts to act as a cultural gateway to campus. “The facilities are critical,” McLaughlin stated. “Right now, we’re all scattered across campus.” When built, the Center for Learning, Arts and Innovation will provide dedicated spaces for studying, performances and exhibitions. “And those spaces wouldn’t just serve our students, but our broader Brazos Valley community.” Beyond securing physical space, the school’s central programs all plan to grow in size and scope under their new banner. There’s a renaissance underway in Aggieland, and though it’s still in early stages, PVFA’s faculty leaders are ready to bring it to light.

Performance Studies 

Dr. Kim Kattari 

At its heart, society revolves around performance. From the moment you wake up, you take on a series of roles based on your relationships, occupation, identity and culture. Parents perform parenting, workers perform working and people publicly perform as themselves. Awareness of this paradigm can be unsettling, but Dr. Kim Kattari believes there’s value in recognizing how all the world’s a stage. “We teach our students to be conscious of how they present themselves in different contexts so they can perform in creative and innovative ways,” she explained.