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Joel Rosario Tapia: A Reflection

I've been absorbing, processing, reconciling and reflecting upon this summer’s presentation of "Curating Commemoration: Poesis/Remedy," generated by the Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art and mounted in the Waterfire Arts Center, Providence, from July 13 - August 20, 2023. These were some of the most invigorating and exciting days of my life.


The concentrated installation process began on July 10 and ended on July 13. During this installation I felt so thankful to have the opportunity to tell the stories of some of my most esteemed colleagues that travel to practice in Rhode Island, or live and practice in Rhode Island. The process of meeting artists in their studios and homes and visiting, viewing, communicating and then interviewing them and creating the ten short films that were featured in "Remedy" galvanized my relation to these artists and the Providence community. I sought to help the artists tell their stories which represent their communities and families and identities, to help elaborate on and create a platform for these practitioners whom I have so come to respect and admire.


I operated and created and strategized creating "Remedy" from a sense of responsibility to the artists, the broader cultural and creative community, the Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art’s board members and volunteers, and the WaterFire Arts Center volunteers, community and staff. Together, all supported and helped to solidify and present the result of my curatorial practice, and place the incredible artists on a visible platform unlike any other.


I wanted to present, authentically, and in their own words, the varied identities, viewpoints and practices of the artists. I sought to omit my words and prodding questions from the films so as to create emphasis on these artists and their words completely, to let their personalities and work and trajectories be seen and perceived without my presence on the screen and influence on the audience. I wanted to create a choreographed experience with multimedia and a soundscape that could aid the audience in focusing on perceiving the work of each artist in an energetically supportive and stimulating way.

I wanted to create a choreographed experience with multimedia and a soundscape that could aid the audience in focusing on perceiving the work of each artist in an energetically supportive and stimulating way.

After much reflection and conversation at the exhibition and about the exhibition I am thankful to be able to say that I believe it was supremely successful. I believe the artists felt seen and felt inspired to grow their presence and practices in the Providence community. I believe the stakeholders in the exhibition's success felt that the events were well attended and entertaining, with noteworthy and particularly remarkable performances and interventions and readings that supported the eclectic, invigorating and intellectually stimulating experiences thousands of visitors had.


I have perceived that the community has been invigorated by this summer's Providence Biennial concurrent exhibitions and I think that these exhibitions will continue to influence future presentations and curating in the city, for years to come. It is truly humbling to have been part of creating "Curating Commemoration," and contributing to the Providence artistic community as part of the collaborative effort to do meaningful work means everything to me.


To have helped till the ground and plant the seeds that will flourish and change the cultural environment, to help aspiring creatives stand up and do the meaningful work that moves our societal paradigms and creative community forward—this is the kind of legacy based work that can undo and heal wrongs. It can do so from seven generations back, and influence positively seven generations moving forward. To me this is generational work necessary to deal with the trans-generational trauma experienced by so many of us as members of our community. I am thankful to have helped us to see ourselves and our reflections. Without the Providence Biennial's presentation of "Curating Commemoration: Poiesis/ Remedy" we may never have done so. Hahom. In gratitude. Perpetually.


Note: "Curating Commemoration: Poiesis / Remedy" was comprised of two vibrant, concurrent portions. Together, alongside each another, as a single exhibition they boldly inhabited the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence in the summer of 2023. The curators worked on the project in mentorship with the Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art to produce the tremendously attended, broadly recognized exhibition. Curator Melaine Ferdinand-King named her contribution "Poiesis" and Joel Rosario Tapia named his "Remedy."


On Tapia's recent work:

TAINO & NIPMUC at The Springfield Massachusetts Puerto Rican Day Parade 2023 


ART inc. Season 2, WSBE Rhode Island PBS. Tapia's story will appear as an episode to premiere in January, 2024.

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