On Gallery Night in October of 2013, an audience of over two hundred people gathered for the premiere of the first film in the RI ART ARCHIVE PROJECT documentary series. The RI ART ARCHIVE PROJECT was created by Holly Gaboriault, a native Rhode Islander and RISD graduate seeking to examine what makes Rhode Island a fertile ground for the fine arts by archiving the legacy of working artists of Rhode Island. The film series intends to archive, educate and inspire by telling unique narratives within the Rhode Island arts community, featuring artists, historians, curators and collectors.
The RI ART ARCHIVE PROJECT explores the innate universal elements that exist within the arts community, the passions and perspectives that drive and inspire them to make a difference in our world, and what keeps them striving to expand themselves. Rhode Island is prolific and plentiful in creative entrepreneurship and, unknowingly, some facets of the arts community exist unaware of itself. “The RI ART ARCHIVE PROJECT serves as a catalyst to expand the stories of individuals and characterizes a moment in time here in Rhode Island,” says Holly, who writes, produces, and directs the series. “The PROJECT provides opportunities for the Rhode Island community to become aware of itself within itself by interweaving people and their stories. Even though we are such a small state, there are so many people and projects we may not be aware of. We explore how they flourish in Rhode Island while placing Rhode Island in the context of how it relates to the global art community and its economy.” Each film reaches broader audiences with multiple screenings throughout the community as well as forums and panel discussions, gallery exhibitions, and a partnership with RI PBS.
FILM|1 featured fourteen internationally recognized Rhode Island artists, what brought them to RI, why they stayed, and how they give back to their communities. Featured artists included: Deborah Baronas, Howard Ben Tre, Gretchen Dow Simpson, Nancy Gaucher-Thomas, Peter Geisser, Saberah Malik, Salvatore Mancini, Leo Narducci, Morris Nathanson, Ilse Nesbitt, Howard Newman, James Montford, Kenn Speiser, and Brian Shure.
Premiering in the fall of 2015, FILM|2 features women artists of Rhode Island leading successful careers in the arts, enriching their communities, and supporting the work of the next generation of artists. Featured artists include: Ana Flores, Cuban-born artist whose work addresses issued of displacement, memory, and owning one’s culture as an outsider; Lisa Z. Morgan, designer and writer; Mika Seeger, ceramist whose community-based work involves connecting diverse communities and geographical history; Lorraine Howes, fashion Designer and historian, former head of the fashion department at RISD; Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, photographer; Mimo Gordon-Riley, painter; Lisa Goddard, printmaker and former director of the Newport Art Museum; Nafis White and Garcia Sinclair, RISD BFA Sculpture '15 students, a couple who combine consciousness of community and contemporary art.
“Women have always been a pioneering force behind the arts and culture communities throughout Rhode Island’s history. Do we know those stories? Not as much as we should,” Holly says. “Women challenge their roles by the very nature of what they do in choosing the life of an artist. Speaking with historians and contemporary women artists, I found an interesting conversation emerging amongst a diverse group of multigenerational women, each with their own approach to art using narrative, autobiography, decoration, ritual, and performance. Again, it creates yet another unique Rhode Island story and captures a moment in time.”
The RI ART ARCHIVE PROJECT will continue to extend the conversation of the Rhode Island arts community to integrate different perspectives and experiences. For more information visit: riaaproject.blogspot.com.
by Holly Gaboriault
Founder of RI Archive Art Project