I am Violet Sun, MA graduate in Cultural Management from the Chinese University of Hong Kong—though I myself am actually from Beijing, mainland China. Over the course of this summer, I have gotten to know the lovely city of Providence, working as an intern at Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and staying at the Carriage House apartment in the 200+ year old Nightingale Brown House, right next door to the historic John Brown House.
Archivists, arts administrators, art teachers, communications managers, consultants, cultural planners, curators, development writers, interpretive guides, marketing coordinators, museum curators and educators, nonprofit business managers, oyster farmers.
Education, interpretation, research, and administration.
Cities, historic sites, museums, parks, and universities.
"If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.” - Isadora Duncan... I like to think of myself as culturally literate. I work in the arts, I can drop the odd Shakespeare quote in conversation, and I can tell abstract expressionism from Dadaism. But when I began working with American Dance Legacy Initiative (ADLI) I realized how illiterate I was when it came to dance.
Claims of authenticity or ownership relate to power and impact all of the work we do in the public humanities. Who owns what? Who gets to speak for whom, and when? Commemoration and representation, the use of social media, heritage, sites of conscience, public art: all of these areas of work are classed, raced and gendered and they all rely on claims to power and the propagation of dominant stories. Yet it is important to understand that even working to tell the hidden, invisible or resistance narratives can be troubled.
As part of the university’s 250th anniversary, a group of Public Humanities students, faculty, and collaborators are giving new life to a piece of Brown’s history. Christened ‘The Jenks Society for Lost Museums’, the group is tracking down remaining objects, remaking specimens, and researching the Jenks Museum of Natural History and Anthropology’s history.
The John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities will collaborate to create a Rhode Island statewide mobile application, tentatively titled, “Mobile RI.” The appearance and format of the app will be similar to Sakonnet Historical, a mobile app developed by the Center for Public Humanities, the Tiverton Public Library, and the Little Compton Historical Society, with funding and support by RICH.
Dances by American choreographers provide unique insight into American history and culture, yet Americans, historically, have not turned to dancers or dance institutions to deepen their understanding of America. In fact, as a culture, we have privileged the visual arts and the word over the performing arts, particularly dance, and turned to literature, paintings, sculpture, and artifacts to tell the story of who we are and from whence we came.
Mapping Arts – Providence reveals the lives, influence, and work of black artists in Providence from the 1860s through the 1960s. The project connects the legacies of artists including painter Edward Bannister, singer Sarah Vaughan, and jazz musician James Berry, who all spent time in the city and shaped its cultural landscape. The hub of the project is a digital map with historical information and images about black artistic influence on Providence.
When I first walked into the UNESCO headquarters in Paris at the very beginning of the summer, stomach in knots and passport in hand, I had never thought I would still be here, five months later. But as fate would have it, here I am…