Meet Segue Institute for Learning and David Wells

Twice a year RISCA awards grants in a number of categories. Over the next few months, we will be profiling the amazing artists and organizations that received grants at our April 1, 2017 deadline, two at a time.

SMS Segue student bioProject Grants in Education
Applicant Organization: Segue Institute for Learning
Project Coordinator: Angelo Garcia
Participating Artists: Rhode Island Latino Arts Council, Barry Morang, Victor Terry
Project: The Segue Institute for Learning is excited to offer a program that will showcase the resident stories of the smallest city in the smallest state of the country. Through interviews with residents, drawings and photography; program participants will create a gallery of the “stories of the Square Mile City” that reflect its incredible history. Square Mile Stories – A Community’s History is a public humanities, ethnographic performance project aimed at collecting and sharing the experiences of immigrant Central Falls, Rhode Island residents. Central Falls, Rhode Island is ideal for this project because it is comprised of a diverse immigrant population. Square Mile Stories – A Community’s History will consist of middle students, interviewing members of the Central Falls Community who immigrated to the U.S. The collection of these people stories will be compiled as collection of ethnographic pictorial, literary essays and theater compositions that will be shared and presented to the public throughout the month of October 2017.
About the School: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Segue Institute for Learning’s mission is to foster a community where students take ownership of their education. Scholars receive a rigorous academic experience that prepares them to excel in the high school and eventual college setting of their choice. We believe that all of our students are AT PROMISE, versus being labeled At Risk. Segue is a safe and nurturing environment which promotes diversity, encourages growth and allows students to view themselves as citizens of change in their homes and community.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProject Grants for Individuals
Artist: David Wells
Project: The feature length documentary film, “Echoing Histories”, takes the viewer on the creative journey of Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, a Rhode Island artist, immigrant, and woman of color.  Matthew has experienced the kind of racism and stereotyping increasingly directed at Americans who are immigrants and minorities. In response to that hate, she creates internationally exhibited art-work. That work echoes the journeys of the immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized people whose life experiences she portrays in her work.
Echoing Histories is anchored in the dialogues Matthew has with refugees displaced by the 1947 Partition of British India, an event which resulted in the births of today’s India and Pakistan.  Each interviewee’s horrific experience sounds worse than the last. The video plunges the viewer into the refugees’ trauma and Matthew’s role in echoing the histories of those survivors. The interviews (and accompanying portraits) became the project she calls “Open Wound,” referencing the unresolved nature of the India – Pakistan conflict.  At the emotional peak, Matthew explains how reliving so many stories of Partition’s trauma leaves her feeling like she has lived through a trauma similar to that of her collaborators. While the aging victims of India’s partition are the particular refugees that Matthew focuses her work upon, those refugees easily stand in for today’s Syrian refugees or any involuntarily displaced peoples.
Then, we learn of her own immigrant journey, which continues to be reflected in her work and career.  We learn about her experience as a transnational woman who is continually crossing boundaries between various cultures, including England, India and, most recently, the United States. From her early two-dimensional still image work, Lucknow_1“Memories of India”, to her most recent video projects, “Re-Generations”, Matthew’s work explores the connection between the past and present.  It highlights the ways that family photographs play an evocative role in shaping our identities and our memories.
Artist Bio: David H. Wells is an award winning freelance photographer/video maker using whatever technology he can to create visual narratives. He is based in Providence, Rhode Island, affiliated with Aurora Photos and is also a photo-educator. One editor described him as a “…specialist in intercultural communication and visual narratives that excel in their creative mastery of light, shadow and sound, stills and video.”
His project on the pesticide poisoning of California farm workers was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the years he has worked on assignment for such magazines as Fortune, Life, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Sunday New York Times, Time, etc. He also worked for corporations such as Consolidated Natural Gas and DuPont as well as for non-profits such as the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.