Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Veronica Mays

Veronica in braids - Conaky MaysVeronica Mays began quilting in 2004, and got serious quilt fever in 2015. She is based in Portsmouth, RI and works to preserve African-American heritage and history, as well as her family’s history, through her quilts. She received a Project Grant for Individuals last year to create quilts celebrating African American history, as well as demonstrations, classes, and public showings of these pieces.

We asked her a few questions about her 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.

VM: Yesterday I went to church, then entertained my Aunt Marsha who is visiting from California – I took her out for a lobster roll. After that, I prepared lessons for my week as an English teacher and got my clothes, lunches and thoughts together. I took a long leisurelyBlack Regiment - Conaky Mays nap, which I regretted because I woke up at four in the morning – tossing and turning for an hour. I woke up and cooked three nights worth of dinner – baked chicken wings, steak and onions, a big pot of yellow eyed-beans, oven fries, broccoli, and fried monk fish. When I was done with these obligations, I returned to the love of my art life – quilting. I prepped three quilted post cards, created a Barack Obama quilt pattern, and continued to spread material all over the living room, two bedrooms, and the dining room table.

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

VM: I was born and raised in Newport in 1961. I have lived in three far away places – Long Beach, California, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Naples, Italy – but I always return home.

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

VM: When it comes to quilting I am like a kid in a candy store! This year I learned several new (to me) techniques including multi-media collage, fabric painting, quilted quilted-post-cards-conaky-mays.jpgpost cards, bottles and blooms, and accidental landscapes. However, the quilted post cards have taken on a life of their own.

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

VM: The biggest challenge is having to put my supplies away so that my family can have the space to use for its original intended purpose! This creates a wrinkle in my fluidity.

RISCA:What Rhode Island artists and/or arts organizations most inspire you and why?

VM: I am inspired by URI Professor Robert Dilworth. He is an art professor, painter, and has recently become an incredible quilter. In addition, I love two organizations I am a part of: Quilter’s By the Sea and Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). Both of these organizations expose me to artists and techniques that enhance my skills and creativity.

See more of Veronica’s work on facebook or instagram, and catch her at the Broadway Street Fair in Newport on October 6th.

Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship

The Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (SARF) program was launched in 2007 to provide outstanding visual artists from across the world a unique opportunity to work with Smithsonian museums, research sites, collections, and scholars, so they may conduct research that inspires new artwork. SARF Fellows spend one to two months in residence at the Smithsonian immersed in its unparalleled collections and multidisciplinary scholarly expertise, building connections between art, science, history and culture. The program embodies the depth and breadth of the Smithsonian. Fellows have studied not only what is on view in the Smithsonian’s nineteen museums and National Zoo, but also the vast collections in non-public areas, libraries, archives, gardens, laboratories, storage facilities and field sites in the U.S. and abroad.

This unique residency offers creative collaboration in a dynamic environment. It brings together Smithsonian scholars and distinguished visual artists from a variety of disciplines throughout the United States and abroad to explore cross-disciplinary connections. It allows the Smithsonian a unique opportunity to see the collections and resources in different ways. It inspires new directions and creative expression for both artists and Smithsonian staff. It strengthens the arts community within the Smithsonian and broadens public interest in and understanding of contemporary art. SARF fellowships are explicitly for artist research and do not require recipients to create or exhibit artwork.

For more information, click here.

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Eric Bennett

Eric-Bennet-1 - Eric BennettEric Bennett is a Providence based writer and Associate Professor of English at Providence College. He is this year’s fiction fellowship recipient, for his novel Make Yourself Decent.

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.

EB: After dinner I polished a 250-word endorsement of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for the student newspaper at Providence College; googled clips of the Chinese internet celebrity HoneyCC; read about Meitu apps that transform Shanghai selfies into universal fantasies of perfection and drive the booming business in plastic surgery in Chengdu; kept trying to record a MIDI part for “Broke My Heart on You” for the forthcoming Hopper album, Hopperesque; and typed up some notes on William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale.

RISCA: What Rhode Island artist or arts organization most inspires you?

EB: The painter Todd Ingham, now in exile in Oregon City, was an undervalued civic marvel throughout the years he roved the streets sorting plastic, gluing memory boards, painting the beauty in defunct bridges and saggy wires, and postulating how the divine delight of numbers, coursing invisibly all around us, structured reality, including the street plan of Elmwood.

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

EB: On Monday and Thursday nights you can walk from your apartment in the West End big enough lieto band practice at the Wurks. On Tuesday night you can walk an even shorter distance to your writing group, comprised of brilliant, serious writers, meeting just off Dexter Field. On Wednesday night you can drive down to Cranston and drink a beer with Andy Davis at subModern Studios as he runs punk vocals through a wurlitzer and humors your affection for Bob Seger’s “Fire Lake.” On Friday, at Ada Books (also a short walk) you can browse comics drawn by locals, then head over to an opening at RISD or a play at The Players on Benefit Street. On Saturday afternoon you can chat with Mike Samos at Empire Guitar about what the band Geraldine’s up to. Do I sound like a promotional magazine? Who cares? This place is the best!

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

EB: Authentic German rouladen.

You can read more about Eric at ericbennett.org, and catch him at Writers Night during the Fellowship Exhibition at the Warwick Center for the Arts in March 2019!

Providence Public Library Announces 2019 Creative Fellowship: Call for Proposals

Providence Public Library is now accepting applications for the 2019 Creative Fellowship. The 2019 Creative Fellow will create new, original work in the field of creative writing (poetry, fiction, playwriting, creative nonfiction, etc.) related to the topic of the evolving built environment, as part of the Library’s 2019 exhibition and program series.  Application is open to practicing artists 16 years of age or older.  Application materials are due by 5 p.m., October 1.

Providence Public Library offers an annual Creative Fellowship for an artist to create new work with a topical tie-in to the library’s exhibition and program series. Creative Fellows perform in-depth research in our historical collections, using images and text as source material and/or inspiration.

The 2019 exhibition and program series will explore Providence’s evolving built environment. The exhibition will focus on the histories of vacant places and open space throughout the city. Our eyes often pass over vacant space, rendering it all-but-invisible in the profuse urban landscape. What are the stories of these nothing-spaces, these overgrown lots, parking spaces, crumbling foundations, and fields, and what urban processes left them unoccupied? As PPL’s building is currently undergoing an extensive renovation, this exhibition will take place primarily off-site, utilizing site-specific installations and a digital tour featuring maps, photographs, and information gleaned from PPL’s Special Collections.

For more information, click here.

New England States Touring Grants due August 1st

NEST (New England States Touring) funds presentations of New England-based performing artists from outside of a presenter’s state.

NEST grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. Grants are available in amounts of up to 50% of the artists’ fees, and typically range from $400 to $4,000. Requests below $400 will not be accepted. Artists’ fees may include costs for creation of new work, travel, and per diem.

Grant amounts are based on:

  • The artist’s fee.
  • How well the project meets the funding criteria below (applicants who receive the highest scores receive the maximum amount, which is 50% of the artist’s fee).

For more information, click here.

Scholarships Available for the Alliance of Artists Communities Conference

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is pleased to offer Rhode Island’s arts leaders the opportunity to attend the Alliance of Artists Communities’ 2017 Conference. RISCA is offering two $500 scholarships to a Rhode Island-based artist or arts leader to subsidize conference registration, travel, and lodging for this event. Conference registration is $350 for scholarship recipients, and attendees are asked to register by the early bird registration deadline. Applications are due August 1, 2018. For more information, click here.

Levitt AMP [Your City] Music Series Grant Application Now Open

The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation announces an exciting grant opportunity serving small to mid-sized towns and cities across the country. Up to 15 grantees will be awarded $25K each in matching funds to produce their own Levitt AMP [Your City] Music Series­—an outdoor, free concert series featuring a diverse line up of high caliber entertainment for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy. Online public voting determines the Top 25 finalists. Grant applications open on July 17 and are due by September 25, 2018. For more information, visit www.levittamp.org.