Community Exhibitions

Stand to Sea

Currently on view

Prints by Allison Bianco

The prints featured in Allison Bianco's exhibition Stand to Sea reflect the artist’s research in PPL’s Special Collections, blending a myriad of scrapbook references, aerial photographswhaling log illustrations, and sentiments of historic Japanese Kawaraban papers to produce a view of her home state of Rhode Island with a bright and foreboding atmosphere. Bianco was awarded a RISCA Make Art Grant to work with Ben Watkins to create site-specific frames that wrap around the corners of the library's interior architecture in two of this exhibition’s works:

At the top of the Atrium stairs is Stand to Sea, a monumental six-foot copper plate etching evoking watery worlds through the lens of maritime artwork traditions. The rising sea of mythic proportions in the print comes in the form of seven waves that travel over hundreds of years, past whales and whaling ships, from the edges of faraway oceans to the Atlantic, where they reach land at the Point Street Bridge in Providence, Rhode Island on September 21, 1938.

Wrapping around the wall outside the Joan T. Boghossian Gallery, So Ends This Day evokes a phrase commonly used by Captain William A. Martin in concluding the daily entries of his whaling log. Traveling around the corner from the hurricane of 1938 to Captain Martin’s harrowing whaling journey from 1887 aboard the E.H. Adams, the ship meets waters at times four fathoms high in one of the most hurricane-ridden seasons of the century.

Allison Bianco received her MFA in Printmaking from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, and her BA in Studio Art from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA. Bianco completed her first public art commission for New York City public school 958 in Brooklyn (2022). Her work is held in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; The New York Public Library, NY; RISD Museum, RI; Yale University Art Gallery, CT; University of San Diego, CA; Wheaton College, Norton, MA; and the Hawai'i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, HI; among others. Bianco's work is represented by Cade Tompkins Projects. To see more of her work, check out her Instagram: @allisonbiancoprints.

Words from the Library! 

currently on view

Prints By Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. is a letterpress printer based in Detroit, MI, and the 2024 Southern Graphics International Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. For this collaborative exhibition, he asked Providence library patrons and staff to share their thoughts and reflections on the role of the public library in their lives and in society, and then handset those quotes in wood and metal type, printing them letterpress in black ink over the multi-layered colored prints you see here. The prints can be found on PPL’s first and third floors, and spread throughout the library stacks. Read more about Amos Paul Kennedy and the Words from the Library! project in Providence Monthly.

Rhode Island Creatives Show/ Carl Jung Series

March 18 - May 10 2024

Prints By Jacques Bidon

For a small city in the smallest state, Providence, Rhode Island has produced an outsized number of Black artists working in a variety of genres. In the 19th century, artists such as Sissieretta Jones, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and Christiana Cartreaux Bannister brought music, visual art, and style to the city. The 20th century saw artists such as Mahler B. Ryder and Cheryl Miller further Black art and design here and in the world. Ryder, Professor of Illustration at RISD, had an illustrious career that included a show at the Whitney Museum. After attending Rhode Island School of Design (specifically to work with Ryder), Cheryl Miller went on to become a pioneering Black female graphic designer in the United States. Rhode Island continues to attract and produce artists, musicians, and designers of worldwide acclaim. The legacy that these past artists created lives on in the creative output of Rhode Island artists of all backgrounds today. We all stand on the shoulders of the greatness that came before. --Ulli K. Ryder, Ph.D.

Jacques Bidon spent over three decades working as a commercial printer, and today, he uses his knowledge of the craft and his unique artistic eye to create works of his own. In the family tradition, he now owns the Bidon Community Print & Design Studio, a local space where learning and collaboration can bridge the gap between the arts and education in all undervalued communities. His work has been featured in GoLocalProv and Rhode Island Monthly. He is involved in RISD’s Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD) department and their Project Open Door program, and also works at AS220's Community Print Shop.

Who Has a Seat at the Table?

May 2023

Who Has a Seat at the TableThis exhibit explores the histories of five displaced communities in Providence, Rhode Island: The Narragansett Tribe, Colonial Black Heritage, Chinatown, Lippitt Hill, and Fox Point. The exhibit provides context by detailing what happened to these communities and examining how food and foodways can serve as a means of remembrance. Along with each history is an accompanying piece by artists Dana Heng and Nafis M. White that explores food and memory within the respective communities, revealing how we can preserve and remember these communities' legacies through food.

Guest Curator Aaron Castillo, Brown '23, did extensive research in PPL's Special Collections and curated this exhibit to create space and learn with other members of the community.


2022 - 2023

This forever incomplete public sculpture project, led by artist Eli Nixon, transformed recyclables into a menagerie of organisms in an effort to grok (and make more visible) the vastness of the horseshoe crab's time on Earth as well as the relative recentness of human existence. From April 2022-January 2023, Eli worked with participants (ages 9 weeks to 83 years) to sculpt and paper mache dozens of lifeforms, through an asynchronous yet collaborative process, in which each organism was created by multiple people. Both the process and the product attempt to decentralize colonized notions of time and ownership, upset linearity, revel in impossibility, and reckon with our enmeshment with the more-than-human world. Learn more

Wanderground Lesbian Archive: A Small Sampling

June 1 - August 31, 2022

Since the early 1980s, Mev Miller has developed an extensive library of Lesbian/feminist publications – nearly 3,000 volumes and counting. She also has collected Lesbian media, art, and other culturally significant items. The materials make up the cornerstone of Wanderground, a Lesbian archive being developed as a community-based resource for New England (located in Rhode Island). They include: writings by RI Lesbians, early publications from independent Lesbian/feminist publishers, music and videos, art and artifacts and other life-affirming Lesbian legacies, examples of which can be found in this representative exhibition.

Would That: Expressions of Possibility in Asian America and Diasporas

May 4 - June 30, 2022

Would That: Expressions of Possibility in the Asian American and Diasporas is an exhibition of literary and visual arts created by members of the Providence, Brown, and RISD communities, and curated by Brown University American Studies artist-in-residence, Diana Khoi Nguyen.

Art works featured in the exhibition engage with notions of possibility, family, and futurity within the Asian American diasporas and intersecting diasporas. The exhibition is installed in the library's atrium (as you come into the library's Empire Street entrance), and in the stacks on the ground and first floors.

A map of the exhibit and a listing of participating artists and their exhibited works can be found here.

The exhibition is on view from May 4 - June 30, 2022.

Presented as part of PPL's Spring Exhibition & Program Series, Identities

Providence Waterways: Excavating the Layers of Field's Point

September 20, 2021 - December 20, 2021

Here's a little point of land on the edge of Providence which holds layer upon layer of history. Field's Point, formerly an island, gives us a way into so many stories about our city. Using artifacts, documents, historic maps and images, let's explore these layers together.

Providence Waterways is a multimedia, collaborative, storytelling project. Through a combination of online and onsite experiences, Providence Waterways invites you to take a deep dive into place-based stories, sounds, and events that explore Providence’s water. Visit the Providence Waterways website for more information about the Providence Waterways project.

Guest curators Traci Picard and Dan Mitrovic represent Doors Open RI and Providence City Archives, respectively.

This exhibit is a project of Providence Waterways, Doors Open RI, Providence City Archives, and Providence Public Library.

Providence Waterways is sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the Rhode Island Foundation, the City of Providence Department of Arts Culture and Tourism, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Providence Streets Coalition.