Wheeler Creates New Public Art For Providence

June 7, 2019

A new work of public art, featuring a howling coyote on a vintage Rhode Island postcard, has been created by students, alumni and the Visual Arts Department faculty of The Wheeler School as part of a new Thayer Street Public Art Project in Providence.

Highlighting The Urban Coyote

In search of a theme for the new Thayer Street mural proposal, the Wheeler Visual Arts department made use of earlier projects by the Wheeler Environmental Science department in an ongoing study of the growing coyote population in Rhode Island. Robert Martin, Chair of Visual Arts at Wheeler, said of the new artwork’s theme, “Our goal is to create a public display that will highlight the animal’s growing presence in our state through a juxtaposition of traditional views of the coyote from the Southwest (how most viewers might associate where coyotes live) with images from Rhode Island (where most viewers might not readily think of as a place where coyotes live).

We chose the souvenir picture postcard as our vehicle and collage as our medium. We teach collage in many different guises throughout our curriculum and the project is well-suited for this medium of expression as it calls for a careful selection and repositioning of elements from different pictures to create a new composition”  Photography students in the Wheeler Upper School Advanced Art Seminar combined several versions of Southwest and Rhode Island-based postcards using Adobe Photoshop. Website addresses for both the Rhode Island-based CoyoteSmarts public information initiative and The Conservation Agency are included in the mural to lead visitors to learn more.

“It is our goal for viewers of the proposed billboard to stop, take notice — and photographs — and wonder why a coyote in its “familiar” environment of the Southwest should be accompanied with a text that announces, ‘Greetings from Rhode Island,’ said Martin. “In the new mural, landmark views of the state are also contained within the block lettering, adding to the collaged-intention of colliding two previously unrelated frameworks: the southwestern landscape and the Ocean State: now united by the mutual habitation of the coyote and rendered large by the artful design of our students.”

Wheeler School Head Allison Gaines Pell said, “this type of creative undertaking engages our students as members of the neighborhood to create something that the nearby college and university communities, visitors and the whole City of Providence can enjoy. The hours of work to research, design and then create this new community landmark on Thayer Street is part of our academic mission to have students ‘learn their powers and be answerable for their use.’ We are delighted that Wheeler is able to add to the vibrant landscape of Thayer Street in a way that is both educational and joyful.”

Paul Griesinger, President of Capstone Properties said of the project, “We are thrilled to be working with The Wheeler School and the TSDMA to initiate the first art installation on Thayer Street. We hope to continue with other similar projects to bring art to the street in thought-provoking presentations.”

Donna Personeus, Executive Director of the Thayer Street District Management Authority, added, “TSDMA has been developing our Thayer Street Public Art Program for the past several years. It was always our goal to engage the community around Thayer Street in the process. In the Wheeler School, we have found the perfect partner for our public art program.”


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