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Rhode Island Artists to Work with Students to Create Ceramic Tile Mural at the New RI Youth Development Facility

Cranston, RI - Students from the Rhode Island Training School will participate in the creation of public art for the new Rhode Island Youth Detention Facility in Cranston. Through Rhode Island's Allocation for Art for Public Facilities Act, more commonly known at the 1% for Public Art Law, Rhode Island artists Peter Geisser and Mika Seeger were commissioned to create and install a handmade ceramic tile mural with the involvement of both teachers and students at the new Training School facility.

The artists have begun work on the mural already through initial meetings with Training School students and faculty and they are creating a format for each student to participate in making portions of the final piece. The themes of the mural include "parts and whole" - such as individuals and community - as well as more specific ideas of buildings, homes, and human hands. A structure for the mural has been completed and the tile making will begin with the students and teachers in March.

The stoneware and porcelain tiles will be wood-fired in Seeger's Tiverton studio and installation, also with the participation of students, is planned for the late spring. The finished mural will be on the north side of a corridor that connects the lobby, cafeteria and administration building to the sleeping units, and will bring a visual unity to these separate physical spaces. "The goal of this mural is not only to bring an aesthetic and decorative element to the new building," explains artist Peter Geisser, "but to bring hope and meaning to the learning environment as only art can do. When we first entered the Training School, the kids were skeptical. Now they are enthusiastic about participating and they are contributing wonderful ideas."

Student/inmates from the Training School also sat on the public art panel that selected Geisser and Seeger for the creation of the mural at the new Youth Development Facility. "It was very rewarding having students from the Training School on the public art selection panel," explains Cristina DiChiera, Director of the Public Art Program for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. "Their insight into life at the Training School and their observations of the public art proposals was invaluable in selecting the best possible artwork for the facility. The Director of the Training School and everyone involved are enthusiastic about the selection of Geisser and Seeger's project." The public art selection panel for the Rhode Island Training School sought artwork that would enhance the environment of the facility for student inmates, families, DCYF staff, as well as the visiting public. The panel also sought artists who would work directly with the students at the Training School, providing a unique opportunity for them to receive demonstrations and instruction in applied art techniques.

Seeger and Geisser are noted for their work in bringing people together to create community and public art. Some examples of their work are: Circle of Clay at Hasbro Children's Hospital; the Transportation Center installation at Kennedy Plaza; the Past Points mural in India Point Park; and recently The Waves of Narragansett for the Gilbane Co. in Narragansett, RI.

Rhode Island's 1% for Public Art Law was established in 1988 by the General Assembly. Through this law, 1% of the budget for the construction, remodeling, or renovation of any state facility is allocated towards the commission or purchase of public art. The legislation states, "Art creates a more humane environment: one of distinction, enjoyment, and pride for all citizens."

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

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  • Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
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  • Release date: 03-18-2008

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