Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Public Art in Providence

At the close of last semester, I was able to participate in one of my favorite final projects I've ever done! For LIS 446: Art Documentation with Ann Graf we were tasked with cataloging three instances of public art in a location of our choosing. I partnered up with my good pal Willa, and we decided to explore Providence. I took the commuter rail from Boston (how does Willa do it every time we have class?) to Providence on a frigid but sunny day, and we set off to observe and take pictures of the works we had selected. 

The first piece we chose was Dear Urban Females (2019) by AGONZA. It is located on the back of the Weybossett Facade if you want to take a look for yourself! 

AGONZA is the truly rad woman and artist of color responsible for this piece, which was created as a tribute to strong urban women of all backgrounds. Dear Urban Females is a self-portrait of sorts. AGONZA was born in Providence, but spent her formative years in the Dominican Republic and has many cultural influences, so each panel features an earring with a different national flag. The center panel has the Black power fist combined with the feminine symbol, highlighting the intersectional identity of the artist and themes of the piece. 

Here is a close up image of the work, as well as a snippet from our record. We went really specific on the subject matter, using the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus as our controlled vocabulary. 

I was ecstatic to be able to get in contact with AGONZA after reaching out to her on Facebook. She provided me with additional information to insure that our records were correct and true to her vision for the work. Our discussion bought additional subjects, such as PTSD and mental health to light. I was already won over as a fan, but chatting with AGONZA cemented that status for life.

The next piece we chose to feature was Still Here (2018) by Gaia. As you can see by the photo, Still Here is MASSIVE. The piece is located on Custom House Street facing the Blackstone Canal, and takes up the side of the entire 5 story building.  

This work calls attention to the Indigenous history and people of Rhode Island. We loved that this piece is so large that it is literally incapable of being ignored. Still Here was created in collaboration with the Tomaquag Museum, and features Narragansett woman and educator Lynsea Montanari holding a portrait of Princess Redwing (the founder of the museum) to celebrate Indigenous resilience. It was fun trying to identify all of the flora and fauna in the piece, as well as figure out if they were properly represented in our available vocabularies. 

 

I took this pretty comical (to me, at least) photo of Willa and I attempting to measure the width of Still Here with a not quite 25 foot measuring tape. From there, we employed MATH in order to estimate how many feet tall the piece was.

 

The final piece we chose was The Revolution Starts with the Earth (2019) by Jess X. Snow. Jess X. Snow is a queer woman of color and a RISD grad!

This piece was inspired by the thesis work of Gavriel Cupita-Zorn on connections between oppressed populations, and brings the conflicts of the US/Mexico border and the Israel/Palestine border into conversation. The work is surrounded by a chain link fence, which mediates the viewing and may further enhance a viewer's experience of the piece. The two women pictures are Vanessa Flores-Maldonado and Amira, who both work as activists based in Providence and New Orleans Respectively. 

This project was so fun to work on that Willa and I have made plans to expand our public art cataloging in the future! I hope everyone has had a great new year so far and that you find something that makes you as excited as this project makes me!