Announcing PPL’s 2023 Creative Fellow

We’re so excited to announce the Library’s 2023 Creative Fellow, J.R. Uretsky. J.R. will be doing extensive Special Collections research and making new work about grief and mourning, in conversation with our spring 2023 exhibit Picturing the Pandemic.

Photo of J.R. Uretsky by Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez

J.R. Uretsky (she|they) is a Providence-based artist who weaves performance, video, puppetry, and sculpture into emotionally charged, affective artworks that shift seamlessly between autobiography and fiction. Performing under their moniker, J.R. and the Worship Band, Uretsky draws on worship practices and rituals used by western evangelical churches to create musical performances that turn trauma into strange and positive collective experiences.

You can listen to J.R. and the Worship Band at jrandtheworshipband.bandcamp.com.

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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!

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

Historic Children’s Books at the Library of Congress

Today’s New York Times has a lovely article about the rare children’s books housed at the Library of Congress, 100 of which are now digitized and available online. (Intriguingly, the children’s book called The Cats’ Party that the article features is entirely different from the identically-titled book that we hold at PPL. We’re pleased to know that two different 19th century authors decided to pen books about feline festivities.)

Check out the Library of Congress’s digitized children’s books here.

Update from our 2019 Creative Fellow

Today’s blog post comes from PPL’s 2019 Creative Fellow Laura Brown-Lavoie, who offers us an update on her research and an opportunity to see her perform this weekend:

photo on 1-16-19 at 9.59 am

“Fun fact from the special collections today: 2 out of 3 special collections librarians hate desiccated rubber bands. (‘They are like dried out noodles.’ ‘Ugh.’ ‘Me? I don’t mind them.’) Anyway this is what a rubber band looks like when you leave it in a box of papers for a long time. In other news from special collections: I’ve been studying obscenity, coal of Rhode Island, and pilgrims, and I’m performing some of the poems this Saturday with my synth at the AS220 Mainstage in downtown Providence. Details about the show below, hope you can make it!”

You are invited to attend this special music performance at AS220

on Saturday January 19

with

BUCO NERO

RACHEL BLUMBERG

J R URETSKY

LEFT HAND MAN (Laura Brown Lavoie)

9pm $6-10

Announcing our 2018 Creative Fellow

Those of you who read PPL’s Facebook have already heard, but we wanted to make it blog-official:

We’re pleased to announce the recipient of PPL’s 2018 Creative Fellowship–Becky Davis, an interdisciplinary artist living in Wakefield, RI. You can see some of her past work and read her artist’s statement on her website. We love the ways in which history informs her work, which is intelligent, challenging, and accessible.

During her Fellowship, Becky will create new work related to the topic of hair as part of our 2018 HairBrained exhibition and program series. We think she has a lot to add to the conversation, and are extremely excited to see what she creates!

 

Poster Process Photos

As a follow-up to our recent post about our ALA statement broadside, we’re sharing a few photos taken at DWRI while they were working on the project. And if you like those, you’ll really like following them on Instagram.

We still have some posters available, so contact us if you’re interested in getting one.

Magician of the Week #47: O’Justinaini

This week we’re happy to feature the first Spanish-speaking magician that we’ve found among the pages of our Percival Collection: O’Justinaini, who performed in the American southwest in the early 1920s.

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This sensational illustrated border graces the cover of numerous 1920-1921 issues of The Magical Bulletin, complete with stretching owl, spooky eyes, snakes whispering into a skull’s ears external acoustic meatus, and doves in a column of art deco smoke.

As for the improbably-named O’Justinaini, his performances were in great demand in Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California. The Magical Bulletin continues: “a polished gentleman, and a gifted performer, his show consists of high class magic, illusions, and the ever popular crystal gazing and mind reading mysteries, in the performance of which he is ably assisted by his brother, who is also a most talented artist.”