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Three state agencies work with artist to raise awareness about a health hazard in a South Providence neighborhood

A community artist, working in a South Providence neighborhood, will help raise awareness about a health hazard in the community while designing a series of informational signs through a partnership between three state agencies.

Holly Ewald, an artist who lives in Warwick, has been commissioned by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts to create a series of informational signs warning residents of the South Providence neighborhood near Mashapaug Pond off Adelaide Ave. about the dangers of swimming and fishing in the pond, which contains unsafe levels of dioxins and PCBs. The State Arts Council is working in collaboration with the Rhode Island Departments of Health and Environmental Management on this project.

According to Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, the challenge was to design informational signs for such a diverse community, where many people may not read English. “Commissioning an artist to design signs that non-readers would understand made perfect sense,” said Rosenbaum. “And using an artist like Holly Ewald, who works in ways that involve community members in the design process made this into an exciting project for the people of this area.”

As part of Ewald’s process she invited residents from the neighborhoods surrounding the pond to create images. Students in a Graphic Design Class at Adelaide High School and a sixth grade class at Charles Fortes Elementary School heard a presentation by DEM and Health Department representatives about the health of the pond. They made silkscreen posters with artists Andrew Oesch and Ewald to share their reflections about the pond. They will carry these posters in a procession along side children in fish costumes made with artists Jennifer Rice and Ewald in workshops held at Wat Thormikaram, the Buddhist Temple in South Providence.

Ewald plans to generate community interest in a number of creative ways, including staging a procession through the South Providence neighborhood. “After attending public meetings about the environmental issues effecting Mashapaug Pond I realized we needed to do something interactive on the street to reach the groups who were reluctant to come to meetings,” said Ewald. “A festive procession would be a good way to get information to more people.”

The community procession is scheduled to take place on Saturday June 7th at 9:00am, with a rain date on Sunday, June 8th at 9:00am. The procession will begin at Wat Thormikarma, the southeast asian Buddhist Temple at 177-179 Hanover Street in South Providence, and will head south on Bucklin Street to Charles Fortes Elementary School 234 Daboll St., to Adelaide High School 375 Adelaide Ave., along the east side of Mashapaug Pond and end at the Mashapaug Pond Community Boating Center behind the Joblot on Resevoir Ave.

Participating in the procession will be the Adelaide High School Graphic Design Class, Charles Fortes Elementary School 6th grade, Adelaide Avenue Environmental Justice Coalition, neighbors and supporters of Wat Thormikarma, (Buddhist temple), What Cheer? Marching Brigade, Big Nazo Puppets, and Holly Ewald, community artist.

The public is invited to participate. For more information contact artist Holly Ewald at hewald@cox.net.

ABOUT THE BOATING CENTER The Community Boating Center, created in 2000, is a picturesque spot on the southern end of the pond. Unfortunately it is presently closed to the public. The Parks Department does not want to encourage boating on Mashapaug Pond. It is a fitting place to gather as it represents what the pond once was, and what it can be, if the community city and state work together to clean Mashapaug up.

ABOUT THE PROJECT Inspired by the images from the young people’s posters and information from DEM and the Health Department Ewald will produce new signs for Mashapaug Pond to be jointly reviewed by neighbors of Mashapaug Pond and the State. The signs will be installed by the Department of Transportation before the end of summer.

ABOUT THE RHODE ISLAND STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency, supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. For more information on RISCA and its programs, please visit www.arts.ri.gov.

Related links

Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

Online: http://www.arts.ri.gov/

Release date: 05-14-2008

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