Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Bob Dilworth

DilworthStudio8 - Bob DilworthBob Dilworth is a mixed-media artist living in Providence and Professor of Art at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. In addition to teaching painting, drawing, design, and African American Art History, he is also Director of Africana Studies.  His current works on canvas, paper and textiles tackle issues of race, culture, ethnicity, family, heritage, and ancestry through metaphor and allegory as observed and portrayed through household prints and patterns. They employ an aesthetic gesture toward moments in history that run parallel to current times, often intersecting and exploring hidden and deeper meanings of his experience as an African American.

We asked him a few questions about his life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: Give us a brief overview of your day yesterday- what did you do in both your personal and professional life.
BD: Home neglect is the biggest issue these days. Because the entire house is now a working studio I’ve given up on keeping it clean. Maintenance centers on moving art material from one room to another. My vacuum cleaner has dust allergies, my broom has cobwebs and my dustpan eloped with a strange utensil that I’d been keeping under the kitchen sink.

RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?DilworthStudio3 - Bob Dilworth
BD: RI is the most go-to place on the east coast. Except for when you want a real NY hotdog.

RISCA: What is one thing, personal or professional, that you want to accomplish in the next year?
BD: A small voice in my head says, “Acquire lots of money, a big house by the Atlantic ocean, and plenty of rich friends who are not familiar with the word NO.” But a louder voice screams, “Don’t say that!!!”

DilworthStudio4 - Bob DilworthRISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?
BD: I do what I do because insanity, that often presents itself as an avant-garde Gertrude Stein wearing pink trousers and yellow ballet shoes, is the only alternative. Staying sane inspires me. I’m driven by having an anxiety-free life. I create because life is short and I still have so many more trousers and ballet shoes to make.

RISCA: What Rhode Island artists and/or arts organizations most inspire you and why?
BD: I’m inspired by anyone who likes sugar, shoes, soap, beer, fried foods and broccoli. I’m inspired by organizations that promote good posture and defend the rights of guinea pigs.

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Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Meredith Stern

mush6 - Meredith SternMeredith Stern is a ceramicist and printmaker living in Providence. She is a member of the international group The Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. She is RISCA’s 2019 drawing & printmaking fellow.

We asked her a few questions about her life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: Give us a brief overview of your day yesterday- what did you do in both your personal and professional life.

MS: My typical work day in the winter begins by bringing wood inside for our woodstove and drinking coffee. I usually spend some time answering emails and managing other administrative issues. I’ll cook a lunch at home and then work on creating new work. Sometimes this means cutting up old prints and creating collages from them, other times it means drawing a new print onto a slab of linoleum or printing an image onto paper. I pick up our child from daycare in the afternoon and I often invite one of his friends over. Once my husband finishes work at 6, we have dinner as a family – usually cooking at home- and sometimes go on an adventure together. A walk outside, going to the playground, or when the weather is lovely, working in our backyard garden.

RISCA: How did you end up in Rhode Island?

MS: I visited Rhode Island in August of 2005 to visit some friends and we drove to the Fannie Simonowsky - Meredith Sternbeach and I fell in love with the salty air and the feel of the sand between my toes. I had been living in New Orleans for 7 years and there were no nearby places to swim in clean water. I was enthralled with the fact that we could get to the ocean in Rhode Island in less than one hour, so I decided to move in with my friends for a couple months. That visit turned into me now living her for 14 years.

RISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?

MS: I am inspired by people and our need to communicate and to connect with each other. Artistic expression can allow people to connect through non-word based language which allows for subtlety, for emotions, for dreams to be shared through sound, texture, color, or touch. I think art can be many things to many people – it can communicate what is present but also who and what we can be. Art can allow us to think differently, to explore different possibilities, and to explore how our society can change and how we can be better. Much of my art explores history, social movements, family connections, and mutual aid and cooperation.

RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?

MS: I think our society as a whole needs to work to undo institutional inequality, specifically racism, sexism, transphobia; which means so does the arts communities. Nationally, white men have been over represented, celebrated, and rewarded in museums, galleries, etc. It’s essential that we acknowledge our historic biases, and work to correct it. This can include many efforts, including retelling art history from the perspective of those who have historically been marginalized or ignored. We can Justseeds InstallationPIttsburghBiennial2 - Meredith Sternhighlight artists and hire administrators in our museums, galleries, and other cultural centers who reflects the diversity of perspectives of people living in our city of various ethnicities and genders.  Another example is a custom that has been being adopted by cultural and educational institutions of land acknowledgements of the indigenous inhabitants of the land. I’ve seen this done in the University of Connecticut, and I’d like to see institutions in Rhode Island adopting this practice as well. There’s a lot of work to do to address systemic inequality, these are just a couple examples.

RISCA: What is the biggest challenge for you in your art life?

MF: Time. I used to spend 10 – 12 hours locked in my studio 5-6 days a week. Now we have a three-year-old and I have less time and need to budget my time better. I have less time to wander through the stacks at the library or get lost in the woods by myself. I think I am more efficient with my time, but sometimes miss the ability to lose myself in a book or random adventure for a day or two.

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Libby Slader

Libby-Slader-Photo-Mrs.-Duchovny.jpegLibby Slader is the founder of Libby Slader Interior Design, Inc., an award winning design firm that specializes in hospitality and corporate office environments. She is also a Co-Founder of DESIGNxRI, a non-profit organization that promotes and galvanizes the design community in Rhode Island. Currently, she serves as the Chairman of the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts, a position she has held for 3 years.

We asked her a few questions about her life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: What do you love about the art community/scene in Rhode Island?

LS: The creative scene in Rhode Island, both within the arts and design communities, are so connected. There are opportunities to connect, collaborate and inspire each other. Whether that’s with individuals, organizations or institutions, the energy around those sectors keeps evolving and growing.

RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?

LS: I’m a native Rhode Islander. I left the state for a long time, after high school, but because of my family, I decided that “home” was the best place for me.

RISCA: What is one thing, personal or professional, that you or your organization want to accomplish in the next year?

LS: I feel that the arts, culture and design sectors have been working towards recognition as a formidable, important and relevant force in the economy of Rhode Island. I would love to see more resources and opportunities to grow these sectors from the state level. Increased funding from the legislature for grants to these organizations would be key to keeping this momentum moving forward.

RISCA: What are you the most excited about right now in your art practice/work as an arts and culture administrator?

LS: This fall, RISCA will be hosting the “Leadership Institute” for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) in Providence. This conference brings the executive directors, chairs, and council members of state and US territory arts agencies together and we will get to highlight all the amazing work that RISCA and the state have been doing. We’ll also be able to show off our fantastic state and arts ecosystem to the senior staff at the National Endowment for the Arts, including the chairman.

RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?

LS: As a small business owner and a creative person, I understand that the “business” part is not always taught in art and design schools. Having resources available to develop skills for artists and designers around business development, marketing and finances, etc. would be invaluable. It’s not sexy, but it’s necessary.

RISCA: What is the biggest challenge for you in your art life?

LS: Educating people on the value of art, design and culture in their everyday lives.

You can follow her design work on Instagram and Facebook.

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Harrison Grigsby

HopePINK3-Harrison-Grigsby.jpgHarrison Grigsby, aka Jon Hope, is a multidisciplinary hip hop artist and educator. He teaches at Roger Williams University, focusing on hip hop and urban culture and art, and the intersection with community development. He is the 2019 RISCA Fellow in Music Composition.

We asked him a few questions about his life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: What do you love about the art community/scene in Rhode Island?

HG: I love the counter stories and the counterculture here that is slowly but surely getting louder with their voice. There are so many stories that weren’t being heard and now we are creating our own outlets, spaces, and opportunities for those stories to be told. That’s a dope feeling.

RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?

HG: I was born and raised in Providence. I’ve had the opportunity to live in other major cities (ATL, Brooklyn, Richmond) but there is something about the cultural melting pot that is Providence and the niche things that you can engage in in short proximity. The Liberians, Dominicans, Haitians, Southeast Asians, Nigerians, and more communities are all neighbors with something to contribute – especially food!

RISCA: What is one thing, personal or professional, that you or (if applicable) your organization want to accomplish in the next year?

HG: I want to share my art and my voice on a larger scale. Rhode Island has given me the support and confidence to scale up and share it with the world. Furthermore, I would like Hip Hop culture to have a stronger presence in the academic space. This is why I started the Hope Scholars Initiative – to leverage Hip Hop’s impact to engage students in a much more sensible way when it comes education.

RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?

HG: We need to invest in our own. I see so many events being curated under the guise of Rhode Island/Providence centric art but it’s out of towners or transplants who are predominantly featured. Furthermore, we need to properly compensate and value the homegrown artistry and artists. The more that we celebrate HOMEGROWN through adequate showcasing and compensation, the more we will truly thrive.

RISCA: What is the biggest challenge for you in your art life?

HG: The biggest challenge is honestly securing adequate funding. I want to increase visibility and continue to connect with allies and organizations who value the impact of Hip Hop culture. There’s still a community of people who see Hip Hop still as a novelty or other. They’re in for an enlightenment because Hip Hop is going to be here whether they accept it or not. That’s always the spirit and energy that we rely on.

You can follow Jon Hope on instagram, twitter, and facebook. Check out his single, Eat!

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Elizabeth Duffy

beth2017-elizabeth-duffy.jpgElizabeth Duffy is a multidisciplinary artist whose current work explores the subject of incarceration and its intersection with domestic life. Her work is influenced by feminist art, interior decoration and craft, and the complicated ideals of home. She is the 2019 RISCA Fellow in Three Dimensional Art, and Merit Fellow in Craft.

We asked her a few questions about her life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

 

RISCA: What do you love about the art community/scene in Rhode Island?

ED: I love how Rhode Island embraces artists who live here. I 1rhodelslandinstallationsm - elizabeth duffylove that space is affordable, so you can have a decent studio (with a window!) to make work. I came here from New York City 13 years ago, and I’ve felt the resources and engaged community here have really helped me find new directions in my work. I’m fascinated by the long history of making in Rhode Island, and the way those spaces and tools are being reused to make art. Anything feels possible in Rhode Island.

RISCA: What are you the most excited about right now in your art practice?

ED: I’ve been so inspired by the myriad historic spaces in and around Rhode Island. I love historic house museums and sites and these have motivated me to explore the role of place in my work more deeply.

Duffy_3-Unraveling-Chase-Bank-Prison-Funding-project-elizabeth-duffy.jpgRISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?

ED: I’m in awe of the majestic beauty that surrounds us here in Rhode Island–its natural beauty and its architecture is inspiring. I’m also driven to make work about social justice issues & I want my work to reflect the fury in our national conversation, past and present.

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Dr. David Neves

NevesPhoto1 - David Neves

Dr. David Neves is the Director of Youth Wind Ensembles for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School and coordinator of music education at the University of Rhode Island. In June, 2017, Dr. Neves retired from his position as Director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Needham Public Schools, Needham, Massachusetts, completing 41 years of full time work in public school music education. Prior to Needham, Dr. Neves served 29 years as a Music Teacher, Supervisor and Director of Bands in Scituate, Rhode Island.

We asked him a few questions about his life and art-making in Rhode Island for our new series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: Give us a brief overview of your day yesterday- what did you do in both your personal and professional life.

DN: My typical day begins with a daily walk and exercise program to clear my mind, work on my body (which needs a LOT of work) and generally get energized for the work. Being retired from full-time work enables me to spend my time doing what I love to do on my own terms. Currently, that means spending about 2 hours a day playing my horns (saxophone, clarinet, flute), 1 to 2 hours reviewing /studying scores for Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble (RIPYWE) rehearsals and future concert repertoire, and then on to work for my position as URI Coordinator of Music Education. This might include reviewing student teacher reflections, videos of teaching, prepping for upcoming seminar lectures, and researching topics and trends in music education. I also, at times, am preparing for workshops, clinics, and other supportive meetings I take on with local music teachers, school bands, and music programs, who reach out for advice. I also am able to keep up with professional readings on music education and our musical culture in general. Finally, in addition to my conducting, playing, and clinicing, I have a few private saxophone students who I adore that I teach weekly. In addition to the pure joy of teaching them, it keeps me engaged with many of the same challenges that my URI student teachers deal with in their placements. So, in a nutshell, I spend my days only doing what I absolutely love to do: teach music, play music, support music educators, promote music education as a vital part of every single student’s education, and keep myself growing musically and intellectually — while still having the extra time for the most important joys of life, my family–my wife Janice, my daughters Kristin, Jennifer and Amanda, and of course my two insanely wonderful grandsons, Alex and William!

RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?

DN: My parents, both immigrants from Portugal, chose to make RI their home, and thus mine. The rich mixture of our Portuguese heritage with the potpourri of the entire American melting pot is easily accessible, and always visible in our state. I guess I am a bit of a “home body” having been born here, grown up here, gone to school nearby (Boston), and then with my professional life primarily here and in nearby Massachusetts. Though I’ve never called any other place home, I’ve traveled enough, and seen enough to know that RI is still where I always want to come back to – my heritage and history is here, and I love being able to relive it and be reminded of how lucky I’ve been every single day. AND, at the same time, being so relatively “close” to other incredible cultural centers, including Boston, NYC, Canada and even Western Europe makes it a great place to call my home base.

RISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?

DN: I can’t imagine a world without it – and I know the power of music to transform lives for the better – the more music, the more joy and beauty in the world! I cannot thank enough my parents for mandating that I start taking lessons on my saxophone when I was 8, and “making” me practice! Neither of them were musicians in any way yet, for some reason, they just knew it was a super great thing to make their kids do! Thanks Mom and Dad!!

RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?

DN: We need to change the pervasive concept that so many adults, including some of our own artist/musicians and most educational leaders, have: that high level music experiences are just for those who are especially gifted and talented, or have an ingrained personal desire for it. Music is no different then math: some people figure it out more easily and quickly then others, but EVERYONE has the ability to be musically expressive in some way, and our educational institutions need to make it a priority for all students through college. This will eventually transform all adults into much more collegial, connected, expressive, sensitive, empathetic human beings whose lives will be enhanced and transformed via intimate involvement with the beauty of the arts. RI started down a great path back in the early 2000s, when we “mandated” that all students needed to demonstrate proficiency in one of the arts in order to graduate. We need to revisit that and make it authentic again for all students.

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Chris Dalpe

dalpe makeupChris Dalpe is the Communications and Events Manager at The Steel Yard by day (and also evenings and weekends) and super engaged in creating and supporting other creatives by night (and daytime and weekends). He’s been in Providence for five years, with no plans to ever leave.

We asked him a few questions about his life and art making in Rhode Island for our new series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: Give us a brief overview of your day yesterday- what did you do in both your personal and professional life.

CD: When it’s not event season at The Steel Yard it’s not uncommon to see me with my face buried in my phone or on my computer – the curse of the tech-obsessed disconnected millennial, you ask? I’d like to believe not. I’m usually promoting an event, designing posters/booklets/marketing materials…or posting a story about something cool that steel yard (51 of 59) - Chris Dalpehappened. Yesterday specifically? I worked with a phenomenal local illustrator, Pitch Canker, finalizing the design for our Halloween Iron Pour Posters. After work, I scooted over to Cranston to Volunteer at AIDS Care Ocean State’s first Drag Queen Bingo of the season.

RISCA: What do you love about the art community/scene in Rhode Island?

CD: Our ability to collaborate and the enthusiasm I often find in helping one another realize our visions – it’s a little city that packs a big punch.

RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?

CD: Wowza, it’s been 5 years! I finished up school in Portland, ME, got my degree in Digital Art while I was working pretty hardcore for a bunch of local non-profits. My partner at the time shipped off to Michigan to become a master jeweler and change the face of contemporary jewelry as we know it, and I decided to move down to PVD and hang with my sister.  She’s a fantastic local RI horror author who just published her first novel, ‘Parasite Life’ by Victoria Dalpe- check it out!. So here I was… I fell in love with the quirkiness, the roughness of this city… it was a weird place. In just a few years both my brother and other sister moved into town and we considered it a full Dalpe-Family take over of the city and we ain’t goin’ nowhere.

RISCA: What are you the most excited about right now in your art practice and your work as an arts and culture administrator?

calpe-2.jpgCD: AT THIS VERY MOMENT, the next big thing is The Steel Yard’s 13th Annual Halloween Iron Pour and it’s going to be spectacular. Over the past couple months I’ve watched nearly 30 volunteers fabricate larger than life dinosaur sculptures and seen our Studio Managers Ben & Michelle work with a phenomenal group of foundry artists. ALL OF THIS work leads to one spectacular, hot, and inspiring night that we play with fire (safely).

As far as Death Drop Gorgeous goes, this weekend we will be paying homage to David Lynch/ Twink Peaks by recreating the iconic discovery of Laura Palmer’s body on the shore…. but, ya know, with a DDG twist.

RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?

CD: Money. Lol…. duh. (Even though some of the best, most inspiring and beautiful work comes from working with whatever the hell you’ve got money or not). But really, we need space and freedom to be weird and experimental. The moment we limit ourselves and attempt to make our work align with particular expectations before it’s even had a chance to breathe I think cut ourselves short. I repeat, get weird with stuff.