by Ysanel Torres, Public Art Fellow, City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism | JULY 17TH, 2017
On June 1st, 2017, Public Art in Providence came in the form of a table. We sat as a community, hands held and praying to whomever each one prays to, grateful for our culture and every day. We gave thanks as we gathered for this community dinner in Kennedy Plaza. Sitting to my right, current students from Sophia Academy, an independent, all girl middle school from which I graduated in 2010. To my left, a homeless person with concerns about their living situation, and sitting right across from us, two men from India who have been recording all of their experiences of Providence in a magical sketchbook. Meanwhile, vibrations of a woman’s soft, articulate voice swam through the air with prayers in a native language that was once valued more. We valued it today. Together.
Community Table on Thursday, June 1 at PVDFest 2017 | Photograph By Gina Rodriguez
The Mayor joined the table along with children, grandparents and students from all over our State. Local bus riders and tourists found their seats next to handicapped friends who also came with family. We all laughed and shared memories using our “talking sticks” that were made by students for storytelling. I used mine to share the moment. Not an old story from when I was younger or a story passed down by my ancestors, but a story that I’m creating now. A Providence Story.
This vessel that is a table temporarily united hundreds of people of all different
cultures, ages and lifestyles in order to give thanks and find peace within ourselves as we ate as a community.
I am honored to now be working with and learning from the Art, Culture + Tourism team, experienced consultants from Via Partnership and the Art in City Life Commission to develop a Public Art Master Plan for the City. We seek to make Public Art in Providence meaningful and accessible to all people of Providence in a way that’s unique to who we are and what we stand for. Public art isn’t just about the artist who made it or the artist who’s looking at it. It’s about the people who are absorbing. Like the community table, I am excited to see what new/modern mediums of Public Art come to life in our city.