by Allison Barry, 2019 ArtCorps Supervisor

This summer I have had the privilege of working with Providence’s Art, Culture + Tourism (AC+T) team to create a new public art program, ArtCorps. ArtCorps started as an idea by AC +T and the Partnership for Providence Parks with a mission to activate public spaces (especially parks) across Providence with art that inspires, sparks imagination, honors cultures, and ultimately strengthens and creates community.

Programs like ArtCorps are more than just an idea and need a dedicated team to come to life and achieve its goals of building community and connections through public art installations, and this is where the ArtMakers come in! I have had the honor of supervising ArtCorps’ ArtMakers, a team of eight creative, artful, energetic, talented, and inspiring young adults who were hired and trained at the start of the summer by Mayor Elorza’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). ArtCorps has also had the support of Mayoral fellow Erin McCarthy, who has been alongside the Team with every paint stroke and dance step.

Together, this team of youth ArtMakers has offered public art making experiences and the tools needed by the people of Providence to discover the artist within themselves! Each of our artists are passionate about the process of creating and living with art. They each bring their own special talents to our program and our art making has therefore included myriad art forms: jewelry; sculpture; paintings on faces, streets, sidewalks,paper, cardboard and other canvasses; and even dance parties! Our Art Makers have served as trained artist facilitators and have invited the public in ALL 25 NEIGHBORHOODS in Providence to come together with them and participate in art making and ultimately, community building.

One of my favorite memories from this summer was the Mayor’s Cookout at West End Recreation Center. ArtCorps joined in the festivities and brought their giant Twister game, expertise in face painting, dance moves, and contagious, non-stop energy which helped buoy the event! ArtCorps shared the park with the Rec staff who grilled and served a sumptuous BBQ dinner to the entire community and hosted the ever-popular Midnight Summer Basketball League, and the Partnership for PVD Parks who brought Blender Bike Madness (BBM) and jumbo lawn games to the celebration along with the incredibly talented performers of Mike Rollins & Co! It was a beautiful way to see the incredible partnerships throughout the city working together to bring energy and love to one neighborhood park.

After the event, ArtCorps circled up to discuss the night and I was moved to hear many of the ArtMakers express how much they enjoyed their interactions with the community and how their art making was part of a bigger feeling of togetherness. Throughout the entire summer, we have found that collective dedication to creating art builds a strong ArtCorps and more connected communities.

Working with ArtCorps has been an incredible experience! I have enjoyed watching this team of young adults transform people and places throughout PVD with their creativity and compassion. Working with each and everyone of them has made me realize the importance of the individuals behind any project and how it is truly talented and dedicated people who make successful programs come to life. Moreover, now that the summer is coming to an end, I have witnessed that these ArtMakers are not only creators and innovators, but have grown into mentors and change makers within this city. I have loved seeing them develop and realize their powerful abilities to bring out the artist in all of us in Providence! ArtCorps is now in the heart of art making in Providence!

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