by Julia McCoy ’22
Providence is often dubbed “The Creative Capital,” giving the relatively small city something to brag about. But how often do we, as students living in the city, interact with art? Or, rather, how often do we notice that there is art all around us?
There are many ways that Providence College students can choose to interact with art, whether on campus or in the city, and it is certainly encouraged throughout the school. The Board of Programmers has sponsored trips to the Providence Performing Arts Center in the past, and students are offered discounted tickets to take part in the trip.
Students are also given free passes to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum with their PC ID cards, which is often overlooked by most students, if they are even aware of it. If they are lucky, their professors will incorporate a trip into their course or encourage students to go for extra credit, but otherwise, it is often gone unnoticed in students’ careers here.
Whether it is for a project or just a fun way to fill a Saturday afternoon, the RISD Museum is truly a hidden gem in Providence and a way to explore art right outside our campus. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away so many opportunities to explore, whether locally or globally, so why not take advantage of what we have at our fingertips now that things are open again?
PC also offers galleries in Hunt-Cavanaugh and Smith Halls, displaying different shows each year. Oftentimes speakers are invited to the school to discuss their pieces and engage with students further. Even just a stroll through these galleries is certainly worthwhile.
But art is not limited to the museum, theater, or gallery. Being in the Creative Capital, you are bound to see art around every corner. There are murals on every available brick wall in the city, making an everyday stroll downtown much better. The Providence Flea Market hosts local artists and designers each Sunday to present and sell their products. If we do not constrict ourselves to thinking about art as belonging only in specialized buildings, separated from the community to be in a focused area, we are bound to see it far more often in our daily lives.
Even our own campus is full of art in places you would not expect. Walking to a class in the Ruane Center for the Humanities, students are not often thinking about much besides upcoming assignments and homework. But, it would be worthwhile to look up from our phones every once in a while to see all the work that PC puts into the campus.
All throughout Ruane visitors will notice reproductions of famous work, including Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” and even some original pieces from students and faculty. The artwork notably relates back to the Development of Western Civilization program; whether it’s an image discussed in a class or something that relates to the program, students will understand the context of these pieces if they take a moment to notice. The building itself, with the stained glass window in the Fiondella Great Room and the gorgeous exterior, transport students to a different era upon entry. PC carefully crafted its building to reflect the learning that’s done inside.
It is not something we think about often, but engaging with art in our community, whether on campus or in the city, is a great way to stay connected to the culture around us. Art can be anything from a drawing on the sidewalk to a Picasso in the RISD museum; if you do not limit the possibilities of what it can be, you will see its value far more frequently.