Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School Students, Mayor Jorge Elorza Dedicate New Trinity Square Public Art
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and community partners joined together to dedicate new public artwork at the corner of Broad and Somerset Streets titled “What Is Your Story.” The installation was created by Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School students who worked to understand the history of Trinity Square, stories of their community and of their fellow high school peers.
“Providence is the Creative Capital and you can truly feel that in every neighborhood throughout our city,” said Mayor Elorza. “I’m particularly excited for this installation and the work that our students have done to create artwork that reflects their community while enhancing our public spaces.”
Last summer, a group of students from Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School came together at the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island to create new public artwork for Trinity Square. With the support of teaching artist Anna Snyder, they convened each Thursday afternoon for group discussions and community visits.
“Public art is a perfect vehicle for student learning, especially at the high school level. The public art process requires students to research and engage with community, as well as think deeply about public space and policy that affects their everyday lives,” said Anna Snyder. “This work engages students’ intellect and empowers them for future civic engagement. Our project was student-driven, and the result is a permanent and public record of their voices and an educated and engaged young citizenry.”
Marta Martinez of Rhode Island Latino Arts partnered with the group to create an open project space where its members could share opinions and debate how they might integrate their own thoughts and feelings, as well as those of the people who live and work in and around Trinity Square, into a new artwork for the public space. These sessions also included a series of field trips to Grace Church Cemetery, D.A.R.E. (Direct Action for Rights and Equality), a tour of the murals and public sculptures on Broad Street and Downtown and a visit to AS220.
When the 2017-2018 school year began, students participating in the project displayed a model of the public art site and showcased examples of public art in the hallways of their school. Throughout the school year they solicited personal stories of consequence that shaped their artwork, asking their classmates to each share one of their life’s greatest joys and its greatest challenges. Responses were written anonymously on index cards and put into a box placed alongside the site model.
Anna Snyder then led the group in a series of rapid art making exercises to help them respond to their peer’s submissions and translate them into something visual using stencils. With a conceptual design for the project in hand, the students took a trip to the Steel Yard where they learned how the steel that would be used to fabricate their piece would be cut into intricate shapes; they also received feedback on the work they had proposed.
When asked about the final artwork, student Olga Francisco noted, “There’s different points of view; you might see it as a good thing, I might see it as a bad thing. There’s different ways of seeing art.”
The artwork was installed by the Steel Yard and this project was made possible by an Artplace America grant for Illuminating Trinity, creative placemaking funding from LISC RI, the City of Providence, and through the generosity of Empire Loan.
About the “What Is Your Story” Partnership:
The Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT): ACT 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. The Department envisions a Providence that is a global destination for arts, humanities, and design, where neighbors celebrate diverse cultural and artistic experiences, and where all residents and visitors feel that a relationship to arts practice, making, and culture is a part of their everyday lives.
Artplace America: Artplace America was a ten-year collaboration among a number of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions that worked to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities.
LISC Rhode Island: LISC Rhode Island forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity via communication with residents, partners, and local leaders. They work to create great places to live, work, visit, do business, and raise families.
Rhode Island Latino Arts: Rhode Island Latino Arts is Rhode Island’s leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development and cultivation of Latino arts, including the art, culture, history and heritage of Rhode Island Latinos.
The Steel Yard: The Steel Yard fosters creative and economic opportunities, by providing workspace, tools, training and education, while forging lasting links to a local tradition of craftsmanship.