Rhode Island Council for the Humanities hosts its annual Celebration of the Humanities each October to mark National Arts & Humanities Month. The event celebrates the people and projects that make Rhode Island a vital place to live and recognizes the work of extraordinary members of Rhode Island’s public humanities community. Proceeds from the event support culture, history, education, and civic engagement in our state.
The first ever virtual Celebration will take place Thursday, October 15, 2020. The unique digital program with this year’s honorees will bring the Celebration straight into homes, offices, and classrooms and will offer opportunities to explore fascinating humanities projects that address societal problems and progress.
Opportunities for sponsorships, digital and print program ads, and tickets will be available later in July. Proceeds benefit public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.
HONORARY CHAIRS’ AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE HUMANITIES
Dr. Joyce L. Stevos, Educator and Civic Leader
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates career achievements that demonstrate humanities excellence, reflect the Council’s mission and core values, and enrich public life in Rhode Island. Dr. Joyce Stevos is a Rhode Island native and graduate of Classical High School, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island. An adjunct professor in Educational Studies at Rhode Island College, Stevos was a teacher and administrator in the Providence Public Schools where she was a leader in implementing the study of Black History, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and law-related education. After retirement, she served as a consultant with Trinity Restoration, Inc. to develop and incorporate the Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts Charter School that opened in 2009. Stevos has served on the boards of several community organizations including as an incorporator and officer of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. She is a member and past Regent of the Narragansett-Cooke-Gaspee Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and is presently a board member of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame and the Heritage Harbor Foundation.
TOM ROBERTS PRIZE FOR CREATIVE ACHIEVEMENT IN THE HUMANITIES
Mary Beth Meehan, Pulitzer nominated Photographer, Educator, and Writer
The Tom Roberts Prize celebrates creativity in topics, disciplines, and formats that extend the field of the humanities. This year’s Prize honors Mary Beth Meehan, a photographer, writer, and educator with degrees from Amherst College and the University of Missouri who has spent more than two decades embedding herself in communities across the United States and creating long-term documentary projects. Her work combines image, text, and large-scale public installation to question notions of identity, visibility and equity in communities. Meehan’s portrait banners activate public spaces and spark conversations among the people who inhabit them. Her “Seen/Unseen” portrait series in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, encourages viewers to see both differences and commonality and places people at the center of the experience of the city. Meehan’s “Seeing Newnan” project in Georgia sparked a nationwide dialogue about immigration when it was featured on the front page of the Sunday New York Times in January 2020. Meehan has exhibited her work, given lectures, and held academic residencies nationally and internationally. She was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize and has spent over a decade teaching students in bilingual classrooms at the International Charter School in Pawtucket to creatively explore their own cultural identities. Her first book, Silicon Valley and the New America, with Fred Turner, is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press.
INNOVATION IN THE HUMANITIES AWARD
Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative
Recognizing the innovative implementation of the humanities by an organization or a collaborative partnership between organizations to achieve a specific goal, this year’s Award is presented to the Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative (PCVI). Veterans in this free college program explore history, philosophy, art and literature, from the Ancient Greeks to the present, aided by professors from University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, the University of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as with guest scholars, filmmakers, and actors and directors from Trinity Repertory Company. PCVI also works closely with Operation Stand Down Rhode Island. Dr. Mark Santow, Associate Professor and Chair of History at UMass-Dartmouth and a Providence School Board member, directs the program.
Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the course is open to all veterans regardless of discharge status, age, or education; all materials are provided free of charge, and child care and transportation are available for those who need it. Those who complete the course are eligible to earn up to 6 credits from Bard College, which they can transfer to any university in the country. The PCVI is part of the national Clemente Course in the Humanities, which provides a transformative educational experience for adults facing economic hardship and adverse circumstances through free college humanities courses that empower students to further their education and careers, become effective advocates for themselves and their families, and engage actively in the cultural and political lives of their communities.
PUBLIC HUMANITIES SCHOLAR AWARD
Janaya Kizzie, Archivist, Librarian, Artist, and Writer
The Scholar Award recognizes outstanding public humanities work in teaching and scholarship that advances the civic and cultural life of Rhode Island. This year’s Award honors Janaya Kizzie for her unflinching dedication to equity, access, and engagement in the public humanities in institutions and digital spaces. Kizzie earned her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing and History at Bard College. Following work as an archives assistant at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University, Kizzie was awarded a PRISM scholarship to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Rhode Island, focused on library services and information literacy for underserved populations. She then assisted in the establishment of archives at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Citizens Bank, and Concord Free Public Library. In 2018, Kizzie organized the AS220 Collection at Providence Public Library. In 2019, Kizzie was named the Rhode Island Arts and Culture Research Fellow hosted by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, creating and editing hundreds of Wikipedia entries on Rhode Island artists, cultural producers, and writers and conducting workshops on the use of Wikipedia and digital environments to enhance cultural awareness. This year, Kizzie began a new role as Events Coordinator at the Providence Public Library, focusing on engaging the public with the library’s extensive collections and resources. As an artist and writer, Kizze was co-director of Frequency Writers in 2015-2016 and has exhibited her work at FringePVD, the RISD Museum, and Creature Conserve’s Urban Wildlife Exhibit.
Details about 2020 sponsorship opportunities and tickets will be available soon. Contact Rachael Jeffers at email@example.com with questions.
Sponsorship Opportunities and Tickets
Proceeds of the Celebration of the Humanities benefit public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. Sponsorship information will be available soon. Special thanks to our 2019 sponsors listed below: