Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, the City of Providence’s Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT) Department, curator Marybeth Meehan, and awarded local artists today announced the installation of five large-scale portraits within Providence’s Downtown neighborhood. The project, titled “Who We Are Now,” will reflect the City’s vibrant, multicultural community, as well as highlight the power of photography to inspire change in perspective.
“These brilliant portraits allow us to see our neighbors and each other in a new light,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “I want to thank the five local artists who contributed their work to this project. We are the Creative Capital, and we will continue finding ways to turn our city into a canvas for art.”
Fifteen local photographers were invited to submit work for consideration and five images were chosen for the exhibition by curators Marybeth Meehan, José Ramirez, and David Santilli. The large-scale banner reproductions of the photographs will be on display in Downtown Providence through December of 2023.
“Representation matters, and these portraits reflect the true diversity of our constituency here in Providence,” said Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1). “I am thrilled that these artists’ work will be on display in our Downtown neighborhood for community members and visitors to take in, connect with, and appreciate.”
“I am so proud to see this important project come to fruition,” said Lizzie Araujo, Director of Art, Culture + Tourism at the City of Providence. “The wealth of artistic talent we have in this City can always be tapped in new ways, and this installation harnesses the power of portraiture in a way that reduces silos and brings us closer together.”
The title and prompt for the installation, “Who We Are Now,” asks the artists, and ultimately the viewer, to consider the topic of identity in 2022. It is comprised of portraits by five local artists: Kannetha Brown, Eli De Faria, Jeny Hernandez-Watson, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley, and Abenda Sohn. According to artist statements provided as part of the project, the awarded portraits tackle subjects such as cultural pride, resistance, survival, joy, and unity in diversity.
“The five photographs that we have chosen to display in downtown Providence are each, in their own way, beautiful, deep, intimate, and moving, and represent important perspectives on our Rhode Island community,” said curator Marybeth Meehan. “We can’t wait for viewers in the cityscape to be drawn in through the eyes of these talented artists.”
“I made this image in 2020, during a period of intense unrest and police violence against Black men in the U.S. Being a person of color I was so numb, always sad and depressed,” said awarded artist Eli De Faria. “It’s important to put forward something that is lighter and more tender. What I hope for is that people can start to change their way of how they perceive Black men and their families. They’re tender humans too.”
The City of Providence’s Art, Culture + Tourism Department ensures the continued development of a vibrant and creative city by integrating arts and culture into community life while showcasing Providence as an international cultural destination. ACT commissions public art and produces public programming in all 25 of the City’s neighborhoods, facilitates education partnerships in schools and libraries, and produces multiple flagship festivals, an annual arts and humanities lecture, and other dynamic public programs while stewarding a small portfolio of grants.