Sites and Stories Explored
In 2019, as a part of our Sites and Stories Explored Through Scholarship and Art project, PPS will unveil five new artistic works that explore hidden and layered narratives of several endangered historic sites in Providence. We selected five artists and artist teams to create new works related to five sites on our 2018 Most Endangered Properties list. Each artist will begin their process this year through discussion with a local scholar and a walking tour that engages the community. The works will provoke conversations about the meaning of place, what happens when a site tells more than one story, and what kind of reparative work can ensue when a site erases some of its narratives in favor of others.
Since 1994, PPS has used the Most Endangered Properties program to engage the public in thinking about the future of significant historic buildings, landscapes, structures, and neighborhoods. With “Sites and Stories,” we aim to expand this engagement through the work of committed Rhode Island-based artists, involving the community in the re-building of narratives around the human beings who inhabited these important properties.
This project is supported by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and private funders. PPS is currently seeking additional funding to support the project.
Walking tours with the artists are being scheduled for September and October. Registration is now open for the first two tours!
Rebecca Noon and Jed Hancock-Brainerd will research the female workers who held jobs at the Earnscliffe Woolen Mill/Paragon Worsted Co. located at 25 & 39 Manton Avenue. Noon and Hancock-Brainerd will create a song and performance based on and dedicated to these “unsung” women. Community members will be engaged to perform as a chorus in or near the Paragon Mill buildings.
Megan and Murray McMillan will create an immersive cinematic experience at the Earnscliffe Woolen Mill/Paragon Worsted Co. featuring choreography for performers based on the history of the site and the adjacent Woonasquatucket River.
Deborah Spears Moorehead will first perform research on the Colonial, Industrial, and Contemporary uses of Providence waterways. Her work will result in a mural that addresses several aspects of water usage, including how bodies of water can sustain differing cultures. Her research and production will involve both the State House Lawn and Parcel 1A, two landscapes that relate directly to the Woonasquatucket, Mosshasuck and Providence’s Rivers.
David Wells will create a video that will engage the residents of the area now to share their voices about the Broad Street neighborhood along with those who worshiped at the now vacant Broad Street Synagogue. The intersection of these two communities is core to his project. The video will consist of two kinds of visual storytelling creating informative accounts of place, thereby expanding the collective understanding of those who breathed life into these spaces.
Walker Mettling will create a handmade hardcover artist book focusing on Knight Memorial Library. He will start with documentation and research of the now inactive reference storage stacks, the horse-drenched reliefs banding the main room, and the stained glass symbols set into the windows of the smaller quiet rooms. His work will be influenced by how the library and the neighborhood have interacted in the past and how they do today.
This project is made possible by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.