Creative Fellow Artist’s Talk – May 14, 2022

We’re pleased to announce that our 2021-2022 Creative Fellow, Carmen Ribaudo, is presenting an Animated Art Talk and Digital Reading Room Release at Providence Public Library on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at 3 pm.

Poster advertising Carmen Ribaudo’s artist’s talk, printed in red ink on pale yellow paper.

You can read details about the event in the calendar listing here. Capacity is limited, so register today!

Creative Fellow Carmen Ribaudo’s work on display

After many months of Special Collections research, PPL’s 2021-2022 Creative Fellow, Carmen Ribaudo, has created incredible new work as part of our current Tomboy exhibit. We’re so excited to tell you about it and invite you to view it in person at PPL!

First, you can visit PPL’s 3rd floor exhibition gallery to see Carmen’s projected collage movie, We Are Full – the colorful, cut-paper animation explores “the links between being outside, embodiment, tomboys, and queerness.” It’s projected on the wall just inside the door, leading into the full Tomboy exhibit co-curated by Kate Wells and Mary Murphy.

While you’re in the exhibit gallery viewing Carmen’s movie and taking in the Tomboy exhibit, you can also grab a free, colorful, folding comic that Carmen printed on the risograph at Binch Press, an awesome local, volunteer-run print and ceramics cooperative. (It’s also where we printed the Tomboy exhibit catalogs.)

Finally, Carmen’s giving an animated art talk and digital reading room release at the Library on Saturday, May 14, 2022 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm. Learn more and register for the event here!

New exhibit: Tomboy on view April 1 – June 30, 2022

Today! April 1st! It’s a big day:

It’s opening day for Tomboy, the first Special Collections exhibit on display in our post-renovation, now-fully-open-to-the-public, maximum-elegance 3rd floor exhibit gallery. (No thanks to COVID for thwarting the ability of the public to visit The King is Dead, our 2020 exhibition and program series, in person.)

Tomboy was expertly co-curated by PPL Curator of Rhode Island Collections Kate Wells, along with Mary Murphy from the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. The exhibit features numerous items from PPL’s Special Collections, alongside artifacts, books, and photographs on loan from the Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender at Brown University, the Providence City Archives, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Girl Scout Museum at Cedar Hill, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Special Collections at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, and the personal collections of Sarah Gray, Rae Fotheringham and Charlie Tanzi. The exhibit also includes selected reproductions of illustrations, photographs, and postcards from the collections of the Mohr Memorial Library, the Elizabeth West Postcard Collection at the Schlesinger Library, and the Rochester Visual Studies Workshop.

We invite you to visit our exhibit gallery on the 3rd floor of the library any time the library is open – Tomboys will be on display until June 30th, 2022. Inside the gallery, you’ll also be able to see a tomboys-themed animation and free comics from our 2021-2022 Creative Fellow, Carmen Ribaudo. If you can’t make it in person, you can view photographs of exhibit items on the Tomboy webpage, along with a digital version of our exhibit catalog with incredible illustrations from Jazzmen Lee-Johnson and an essay by Dr. Virginia Thomas.

Stay tuned for upcoming Tomboy-related programming, including an upcoming artist’s talk from our 2021-2022 Creative Fellow!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Special Collections and from our spooky friends! First, this very cheerful cloaked skeleton who hopes they’re invited to your Halloween party:

Evans, Henry Ridgely. The spirit world unmasked: illustrated investigations into the phenomena of spiritualism. Chicago: Laird & Lee, 1897.

Next, from the characters in “Little Wee Pumpkin’s Thanksgiving,” none of whom are at all unsettling:

Bigham, Madge. Stories of Mother Goose Village. Chicago & New York: Rand McNally & Company, 1903.

Don’t stress, this anthropomorphized pumpkin with leafy toupee and a skin-colored cravat just wants to make somebody very happy! Is it you? Is it this bossy queen standing in a pumpkin patch?

The stockinged gentleman accompanying the queen here is, I should note, Peter Pumpkineater, the keeper of the pumpkin patch. I don’t know about you, but if I were a pumpkin being tended by someone with the surname Pumpkineater, I wouldn’t be looking quite so placid…

Finally, we bring you copious Halloween greetings from Jack Pumpkinhead, the very aptly named character from The Land of Oz:

Baum, L. Frank. The land of Oz. Chicago: The Reilly & Lee Company, 1904.

Do you love Jack Pumpkinhead? I love Jack Pumpkinhead. I love his clearly-articulated joints, his perfectly spherical head, and his obvious propensity for adventure. I also, as those who know me will attest, just LOVE pumpkins. This is a picture of me during all of the autumnal months:

Jack Pumpkinhead exhibits a surprising range of emotion given his fixed facial features. Here he is looking sweetly bashful!

As always, get in touch if you’d like to set up a time to see any of these books in person, and until then, may you enjoy this time of year with its crunchy leaves, golden light, copious pumpkins, and spooky nights.

From Stories of Mother Goose Village.

What’s Missing in Archives

Here in PPL’s Special Collections, we do our best to talk openly about the gaps in our historical collections, as well as the ways that collecting practices and archival structures have created and upheld these omissions over time. “What can’t you find because it isn’t here,” we sometimes ask researchers, “and what stories do those absences tell?”

In that vein, we love the new exhibit at the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries called What We Don’t Have. The exhibit highlights a series of items/ collections that they (you guessed it) don’t have, and deals directly with issues like the myth of archival neutrality and the ways in which archival processing priorities have de-emphasized materials documenting the lives and work of people of color. We especially like the action steps included with each exhibit item!

What do you think? And do you know of other institutions that are highlighting the gaps in their collections in interesting and proactive ways?

Updates and a New Creative Fellow

Despite the fact that we’ve been neglecting this blog, we’ve been busy over the past months! Among other things, we’ve been launching the RI LGBTQ+ Community Archive, putting together a virtual exhibition about sleep and dreaming, and digitizing historic newspapers.

We’re also delighted to announce that we’ve selected the recipient of our 2021-2022 Creative Fellowship. Our new Creative Fellow, Carmen Ribaudo, will spend the coming months doing research in PPL’s Special Collections and creating new work related to the theme of our 2022 exhibition, tomboys.

Carmen Ribaudo works with pictures and words. With comics, painting, writing, and animation, she tells stories about characters who are in playful symbiosis with the worlds around them. She thinks about how we become what we do, how we get lost in what we create, and how worlds are built around what we pour ourselves into. She lives in Providence and is from St. Louis. View her work: www.carmenribaudo.com or on Instagram at @carmroses

CORRECTION: Creative Fellowship Call for Proposals

We have an update to our last post! We’re still accepting proposals for our 2021 Creative Fellowship…

But we’ve decided to postpone both the Fellowship and our annual Exhibition & Program Series by six months due to the coronavirus. The annual exhibition will now open on October 1, 2021 (which is 13 months away, but we’re still hard at work planning!).

The new due date for Fellowship proposals is April 1, 2021. We’ve adjusted the timeline and due dates in the call for proposals accordingly.

2021 Creative Fellowship – Call for Proposals

TomboyKate

PPL is now accepting proposals for our 2021 Creative Fellowship! We’re looking for an artist working in illustration or two-dimensional artwork to create new work related to the theme of our 2021 exhibition, Tomboys.

View the full call for proposals, including application instructions, here. The application deadline is October 1, 2020 April 1, 2021*.

*This deadline has shifted since we originally posted this call for proposals! The 2021 Fellowship, and the Exhibition & Program Series, have both been shifted forward by six months due to the coronavirus. Updated deadlines and timeline in the call for proposals!

Anti-Racism in Archives

In case you missed it, Providence Public Library’s Director Jack Martin sent a Message of Solidarity to the Library’s mailing list on June 5, 2020. It includes a link to a powerful Black Lives Matter reading list put together by the Library’s Info Services team, as well as a link to a list of local nonprofits doing grassroots racial justice work in our state.

Here in Special Collections, we’ve been engaging in deep thinking and extended discussions about our role in the movement for racial justice, especially given our profession’s historic location within systems of white supremacy and the overwhelming lack of diversity in our field. We certainly don’t have any answers, but we’re planning to share via social media some of our readings and the issues we’re grappling with over the coming weeks. We believe in dismantling the myth of archival neutrality and openly sharing our learning processes, and we welcome anyone who wants to engage with the issues alongside us.

Archives in the Time of COVID-19

Hello, loyal blog readers. We wish that, right now, we were posting under normal circumstances to impendingly welcome you back into our newly-renovated library and enthusing about a soon-to-open exhibition, but alas, that’s not the case given the current COVID-19 situation in the U.S. However, we do have an update on library services and Special Collections access during our closure, as well as some information about where we left off our reopening preparations (with photos near the bottom of this post):

First, as you likely know, Providence Public Library has wisely postponed the date when we will re-open to the public; if you didn’t receive the library’s email announcement, you can find it here. You can also check our website for updates about virtual library services and announcements about our rescheduled opening. (To answer your most pressing questions: no, you don’t need to return your books right now, nor will they incur overdue fines until we re-open; and yes, you can apply for a temporary library card online if you don’t have one and want to access the library’s e-books and other digital services.)

Second, all members of our Special Collections staff are currently working from home. That means that we’re available by email but not by phone, and we don’t have access to our physical collections at the moment. We do have a number of virtual services available:

  • First, please avail yourselves of the plethora of images available through ProvLibDigital. They’re free to download, and could make great additions to online curricula, research projects, or creative projects.
  • We can offer some virtual instruction or reference services: do you want us to offer an online session for your class on how to do primary source research? Have questions about your genealogy research? Need some ideas for your history class? Please get in touch; we’d love to work with you.
  • We’re working to put together additional resources that will be available through our website, such as subject guides to common research topics, ideas for teachers and professors to integrate primary sources and historical materials into their virtual curricula, and information about preserving family history. Stay tuned!

Now, for some pictures and construction/ exhibit updates:

Up until mid-March, we were frantically preparing for the library’s grand re-opening. While construction continued outside our new office doors, we received new furniture for our Special Collections Reading Room, including a bank of lockers for researchers’ personal belongings, new tables and chairs, and an official-looking desk for the librarian monitoring the room. We don’t have pictures to share just yet, so you can act very surprised when you finally sit in our new chairs.

We also got VERY exciting new cases for our VERY exciting new exhibition gallery. The cases were manufactured in Germany and journeyed across the Atlantic on a cargo ship. They arrived via delivery truck on a rainy day in wooden packing crates, having crossed the miles relatively unscathed.

(Don’t worry, we got a replacement for this single broken glass shelf.)

Look at the cool Drop (N) Tell Impact Indicator on the side of the shipping crate that tattles on laissez-faire crate handlers:

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Here are a few of the cases set up in the new gallery:

Exhibit gallery

In early March, we started building custom book supports for our annual exhibition and program series. Here are some poorly-lit pictures of Angela doing math, and of freshly-made supports inside our new cases.

We’re still planning to have the exhibit completed whenever the library re-opens to the public; in the meantime, keep an eye here and on our other social media for posts highlighting Special Collections materials, and even a few exhibit sneak-peeks.

We sincerely hope you’re all staying safe and healthy and feeling supported and connected to one another.