Becci Davis Artist’s Talk at PPL 6/13

We’re very sad to say that our 2018 Creative Fellow’s time with us is coming to a close at the end of June. We’ve had a delightful time working with her, and it’s been energizing and exciting to see the new work that she’s created based on our collections.

First, we’d like to say that Becci Davis gave an astounding and well-received performance on the library’s Washington Street steps this past Saturday as part of PVDFest, complete with large-scale banners bearing images of items from our Special Collections. Below are a couple of photographs of her performance:

If you missed Saturday’s performance, or if you loved it so much that it left you wanting more, you’ll be happy to hear that tomorrow (Wednesday, June 13, 2018), you’ll have TWO opportunities to see Becci!

First, she’ll be bringing her Beacon Beauty Shop (as seen at our HairBrained opening) to Burnside Park in downtown Providence from 11:00 – 2:00. A description from the artist:

Beacon Beauty Shop is an interactive art performance. Becci Davis had her first appointment in a beauty shop when she was ten years old. Since then, she has been a patron in numerous beauty salons and found that elements of Black salon culture are widespread. That alone is something beautiful. These institutions are beacons of Black culture and the setting to countless intimate interactions between stylist and client. Join her as she examines beauty shop culture through performance. Share good, bad, and awkward moments in an intimate, 5 minute, one-on-one exchange.

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Then, later that same day, Becci is giving an artist’s talk at the library, where she’ll reflect on her research and creative process, show documentation of Saturday’s performance of Private Proclamations, and answer questions. (Thank you to Matthew Lawrence of Law and Order Party for a lovely shout-out regarding this talk!)

We hope to see you there!

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Creative Fellow Becci Davis Performs “Private Proclamations” on June 9

After nearly 8 months of research, planning, story-collecting, writing, and interdisciplinary art-making, PPL’s 2018 Creative Fellow Becci Davis has created a multi-part performance entitled “Private Proclamations.”

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Please join us for Becci’s culminating performance next Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 2:30 pm as part of PVDFest. The performance will be outdoors, on the library’s Washington Street steps (near the historic entrance); it’s free of charge and open to the public, and no advance registration is required. In the words of the artist, “Private Proclamations is a performance about Black hair in three parts. Part One: Letters to my Locks establishes a level of intimacy between the performer and audience. In Part Two: Act It Loud, appropriate private behavior in public spaces is redefined through defiance. Part Three: Please Touch presents an invitation for change through collective action.”

Parking downtown will likely be tricky, as PVDFest brings numerous street closures and large crowds. Read more about parking and public transportation options on the PVDFest FAQ’s page.

Becci will also give an artist’s talk at the library about her process and her performance on the following Wednesday, June 13. We look forward to seeing you there!

Follow our Creative Fellow’s Research!

PPL’s 2018 Creative Fellow, artist Becky Davis, has been poring over books, pamphlets, letters, and ephemera from our Fiske-Harris Civil War Collection, and looking through historic magazines and newspapers.

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If you’re interested in seeing some highlights from Becky’s research and learning more about her process, you can read her blog! She also started an Instagram account featuring photographs of materials she finds here at the library, alongside related materials from other repositories.

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!

 

Library Comics, or, Research as Hot Pursuit

We have big news:

Special Collections at the Providence Public Library is publishing a comic book!

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Lizard Ramone in Hot Pursuit: A Guide to Archives for Artists and Makers is a comic book conceived of and printed by the Providence Public Library in Providence, RI, working in collaboration with artist Jeremy Ferris, who created the storyline, illustrations, and text. It’s being distributed locally with a bonus insert illustrated by O. Horvath.

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Providence describes itself as the “Creative Capital”, and we work with a great number of artists and designers in our Special Collections. These creative researchers often have a different approach than the students, scholars, and genealogists whom many tend to think of as “typical” archival researchers.

After asking ourselves, “How can we better meet the needs of creative researchers?” and “How can we make our collections more accessible to artists and other non-traditional researchers?”, we decided to team up with a local illustrator and library student to make a fun-to-read guide demystifying archival research. (It’s also hilarious!) We wanted it to be specific enough that it could help our users, but general enough to be applicable to collections across the country.

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We’re having a comic book release party this coming Wednesday, June 21st, from 6:30-8 on the 3rd floor of the library. (Facebook event for the party here.) Artist Jeremy Ferris will give a short presentation and answer questions; we’ll also have a bevy of interactive stations, like a mini research consultation booth, a comics-drawing station, and a table where you can have your portrait drawn by a librarian. (We’ll also have snacks.)

For local blog readers, we hope to see you at the release party! For all blog readers, stay tuned for online-readable and printable versions of the comic book!

 

Keri King Studio Visit

Amidst sequential snow storms, unseasonably warm weather, and a wild scramble to install the library’s big annual exhibit, we ventured into the wilds of Providence for a studio visit with our 2017 Creative Fellow Keri King.

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Here you can see Keri seated at her wooden drafting table (it’s a family heirloom!).

You can read our previous blog post about Keri’s research process here. During this visit, she described her collage process, and the new methods she’s trying during her fellowship:

This Creative Fellowship is driving me to explore color and new collage techniques. I’m experimenting with a combination of analogue and digital processes to create my illustrative collage. I’m adjusting imagery [from high-resolution scans of library materials] in Photoshop so that each collage element prints at the desired size, before I physically cut it out… Typically, I work in black and white; I generate collage materials by photocopying source documents – I can get the size I need through repeated photocopying using semi-rational fraction-based math. Afterwards, I edit with whiteout, sharpie, and black ink … This go round I’m manipulating my color palette in Photoshop and I’m popping details in the hard copy with paint. It’s yielding a lot of juicy surprises!

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Once images are cut out, Keri arranges them on a surface using white artist’s tape, which is repositionable, so she can try various layouts. An awesome collage tip from this pro: “I use Sharpie on the cut edge of the paper to avoid flares of white in the finished product. After doing this for a while, I found out that Terry Gilliam used to do this in his cut-out animations for Monty Python!”

Keri’s finished product–an 8 foot x 8 foot, full-color mural, enlarged from the collage she’s working on in these photos–will be on view at the March 1st On the Table launch party. Join us that evening for live music, a food art installation, and the unveiling of our 2017 exhibition!