Mu­rals set the stage for next phase of Fest

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BISSONNETTE jbis­son­nette@paw­tuck­et­times.com

PAW­TUCKET – Hav­ing been raised in Los Al­tos, Calif., a small com­mu­nity in north­ern Sil­i­con Val­ley about an hour south of San Fran­cisco, in­com­ing Rhode Is­land School of De­sign fresh­man Neha Sa­jja re­ceived an in­tro­duc­tion to Paw­tucket’s vi­brant art scene in a most sig­nif­i­cant way, as she was joined by about two dozen of her class­mates to help bring lo­cal artists’ vi­sions to life through a col­lab­o­ra­tive mu­ral paint­ing pro­ject.

“It’s re­ally nice to see places in the RISD com­mu­nity where art is help­ing peo­ple in com­ing to­gether with­out be­ing shy,” Sa­jja said. “It’s nice to see that bond­ing … It’s been great, ev­ery­one has been su­per sweet, all the peo­ple who came here to­day have taken how ex­pres­sive they are and bring a free­dom into art.”

The RISD stu­dents part­nered with clients from Re­sources for Hu­man De­vel­op­ment-Rhode Is­land to cre­ate the vivid mu­rals that will bring a sense of color and won­der to the oth­er­wise dull brick fa­cade at the RHD-RI head­quar­ters on Com­merce Street. The stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated last week are part of RISD’s Pre-Ori­en­ta­tion Ser­vice Ex­pe­ri­ence, or POSE, com­mu­nity outreach pro­gram.

RHD-RI Art Di­rec­tor Nate Car­roll said that the part­ner­ship, which is now in its third year, will bring “a touch of style and per­son­al­ity” to the build­ing’s ex­te­rior.

“RISD is ob­vi­ously one of the most pres­ti­gious schools in the coun­try, it’s been great for ours to meet RISD stu­dents, it’s been a great com­mu­nity en­deavor,” he said.

Since 2004, RHD-RI has helped adults with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties reach their

goal, with a strong fo­cus on the arts, ac­cord­ing to the RHD web­site. This is the third year in which RHD-RI and RISD have joined to­gether to cre­ate the mu­rals. For the past three years, in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the Rhode Is­land Out­sider Art Fair – part of the an­nual Paw­tucket Arts Fes­ti­val – the in­com­ing fresh­men united with clients from RHD-RI to paint mu­rals.

“I think the mu­rals are wild and free-spir­ited,” Car­roll said. “They’re bright, color­ful, and orig­i­nal. You could stand in front of them for 20 to 30 min­utes just ad­mir­ing them.” He ad­di­tion­ally said the mu­rals, and the team­work on dis­play out­side of the RHD-RI head­quar­ters “cap­tures the spirit of pos­si­bil­ity and team­work” that their or­ga­ni­za­tion is known for.

RHD-RI’s “Out There Art Fair,” which will be held at 24 Com­merce St. on Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is free and open to the pub­lic. The fes­ti­val will also fea­ture art from lo­cal stu­dios in­clud­ing Fly­ing Shut­tles of Paw­tucket, Out­side the Box Stu­dios in Jamestown, Cranston’s Artist Ex­change, New­port’s Stu­dio 57, and Top Drawer based out of War­ren.

Car­roll said the an­tic­i­pa­tion con­tin­ues to grow for the art fair, say­ing that “peo­ple come from far and wide, it’s be­com­ing a sig­na­ture event.” He said that the Paw­tucket Arts Fes­ti­val al­ways as­sists in pro­mot­ing and cel­e­brat­ing the fair, calling new Fes­ti­val Di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Dal­ton Vin­cent “re­ally great and en­thu­si­as­tic” for the fair and RHD-RI’s artists.

As for Paw­tucket’s thriv­ing arts com­mu­nity, Car­roll said he’s just thrilled to be a part of it.

“This sec­tion of Paw­tucket’s al­ready seen ac­tiv­ity,” he said, cit­ing Ma­chines with Mag­nets just across Main Street. “It’s an up-and-com­ing sec­tion of Paw­tucket.”

Sa­jja, mean­while, said that she was hum­bled to be a part of such a mean­ing­ful com­mu­nity en­deavor.

“I’ll def­i­nitely come here to see the mu­rals,” af­ter they are mounted out­side of RHDRI’s head­quar­ters, she said. “Th­ese are op­por­tu­ni­ties to hang with peo­ple who do art for the joy of mak­ing it.”

Photo by Jonathan Bissonnette

RISD sopho­more Alexis Caruso paints a mu­ral.

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