PORTALES is an art exhibit presenting the variety of ways that artists and organizers in Rhode Island have strengthened our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement against racial injustice. In moments of difficulty, we can see how art can turn into ‘community portals’ that help us envision better futures. The exhibit is a sample of works by RI-based artists who work in various mediums -photography, mixed media, painting, dance, video and who have a practice of community organizing and/or are in relationship to grassroots community groups that center justice, equity, and access.
This exhibit is the culmination of a broader research project titled ‘Arts for Community Portals,’ led by an interdisciplinary team of faculty from Providence College. The research focuses on the power of art, humanities, and culture to connect communities and spark change during the COVID-19 pandemic and is informed by the experiences of some of the exhibiting artists. In the spirit of using art, humanities, and culture to process the pandemic and imagine new futures, the PORTALES group will host a story circle event on October 6, from 6-8pm at the WaterFire Arts Center. Registration to participate in the story circle will open later in September. Watch the WaterFire website: www.waterfire.org/portales for details.
This project was developed thanks to a $15,000 research grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), matching funds by Providence College’s School of Arts and Sciences as well as support from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (Humanities Council). Additional partners include Blue Cross & Blue Shield RI, WaterFire Arts Center, and Studio Loba.
“Artists are documentarians, and we continue to have done that. I think really at the heart of it, it’s about keeping people excited for what’s next. We have gifts to envision in a different way. And I think our job is really just to share that and invite people into it to help shape it. It’s not just about our vision. It’s about creating space for people to add to a collective vision.” – Anjel Newmann, Artist
“Artists have been encountering difficulty for years, it becomes material for us to create. Artists were challenged, but it was rerouted into creativity, artwork, creative response, focusing the energy on policymakers. The arts were functioning as a license for us to do more meaningful work, it was art for arts sake, it gave us the opportunity to come together and do meaningful things.” – Eric Sung, Project Director
“Place keeping projects center more on the memories of the place in our community and start from there…How do we unearth and weave memories together to preserve it and build stronger? It’s not about making a place out of nowhere; it’s building with other people that have been doing work for a long time.” – Shey Rivera Ríos, artist and co-curator
The WaterFire Arts Center store + gallery hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Thursday, 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.*
Shey Rivera Ríos
Partners: National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Providence College, Studio Loba, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Blue Cross & Blue Shield RI, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and WaterFire Arts Center