Murals set the stage for next phase of Fest
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.”
RISD sophomore Alexis Caruso paints a mural.