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Providence Curates--the first mentoring program of the Providence Biennial--celebrated concurrent exhibitions exploring the theme of Commemoration by two unique Providence curators

Poiesis curated by Melaine Ferdinand-King

Remedy curated by Joel Rosario Tapia

July 13 - August 20, 2023

Thank you to all who visited.

Nearly 4,000 in person visitors enjoyed their experiences and many returned avidly, more than twice.




The overarching title of our initial mentored exhibition, Curating Commemoration: Poiesis / Remedy, affirmed a vigorous connection between remembrance and the contemporary art/culture matrix. As the emerging curators investigated the perpetuation of historical memory through current memorializing practices, they found these often sustain a condition of power and domination. A reconsideration of memorializing encouraged the curators to move beyond the self-serving values of earlier (and persistent) 'timeless' monuments to propose and realize new perspectives on commemoration.

Research and reflection on curating commemoration hastened the development of an activist curatorial response. Each curator selected and has determined ways to juxtapose thought-provoking, culturally distinctive, medialogically diverse works of art created locally, in Greater Providence. The two concurrent exhibitions that together comprised Curating Commemoration reflect the unique lens of each curator. In summer, 2023, they were presented for broad public response and debate.


(Read Tapia's latest reflection on Remedy here


(image of curators ©JustinCase Media, Inc.)

Viewers can link to reviews automatically by clicking on each entry with an online presence.

Boston Art Review (in advance of Opening) 

BAR summer exhibitions roundup

Jacqueline Houton for BAR Editorial


The Public's Radio

James Baumgartner



Go Local

Michael Rose



Daily Kos




Two Coats of Paint (blogazine) 

D. Dominick Lombardi



MOTIF Magazine (hard copy only)
"Curating Commemoration, " pp. 4-5

Meg Cross



13th State"Concrete Evidence"

Alexander Castro



Art New England (hard copy only)
"Art Seen" Column

Opening photo featuring the exhibiting artists  Shey ('Ri Acu') Rivera Ríos and Jenny (Luna) Hernandez Watson


RISD Alumni News/Institutional Advancement

Melaine Ferdinand-King.jpg

Melaine Ferdinand-King

Melaine Ferdinand-King is a Providence, RI-based scholar, curator and multi-form creative practitioner. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College and is a Ph.D. candidate in Africana Studies at Brown University. Drawing from her heritage, Melaine’s practice is informed by African-American thought and practice with a special focus on visual, musical, and literary cultures. Through her work as a project manager and archivist, she hosts workshops and engages in discussions on issues of race, history, aesthetics and ethics. In the past year, Melaine co-curated the inaugural Black Biennial at RISD Museum, Gelman Gallery in Providence, RI, and Black Sonic: Heritage as Heresy at FADA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. Her curatorial projects and intellectual pursuits emphasize the importance of community and critique in our daily lives. 

> See recent press coverage.

Photo credit: Kris Craig

Joel Rosario Tapia.jpg

Joel Rosario Tapia

Joel Rosario Tapia is known as TAPIA, Tureygua Taíno Cay and Chief Tureygua. He is an aboriginal urban artist of what is currently referred to as Puerto Rican descent, and a cultural practitioner of Boricua.


Tapia was born in Providence and served two tours of combat in Iraq with the US Army. He is the Superior, the Chief of the Cibuco-Bayamon Taíno Tribe, and an active voice and writer in the Indigenous Rights and Taíno diaspora. His work is influenced by indigenous Taíno Culture and hip-hop. He is a multi-hyphenate and creative director, and was the 2021 RISCA Folk Arts Fellow.


Tapia practices independently, and is the professional project manager of Caona Contractors LLC. He curates urban and indigenous BIPOC centered shows from his private gallery studio, “Da Art Dealers” in Providence. He also administers yearly Areito (indigenous Caribbean celebrations). Tapia is an author of two books on his artistic body of work, Ab-Origin and Kiss The Girls and is a co-author of the Implications & Ramifications of the Artificial Black Identity: Including a Legal Chronology of the Americas 1492 to 1968, Editions I and II, 2019/2021. Tapia is a member of Providence's Racial and Environmental Justice Committee.

> See recent press coverage.

Photo credit: Kris Craig

By unanimous vote, the board in 2021 expanded the Biennial’s mission by launching Providence Curates ...

Founded in 2011, the nonprofit Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art is governed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of professional curators, artists, art historians, professors, writers and non-profit leaders. As an organization we proceed from understanding art's capacity to disrupt and transform conventions of perception and experience. From the outset, our mission has been to generate curated exhibitions that expose individuals and communities to transformative experiences—provoking new ways of seeing, thinking and engaging with each other.


By unanimous vote, the board in 2021 expanded the Biennial’s mission by launching Providence Curates, an initiative that focuses specifically on recruiting emerging curators and assisting them in developing exhibitions of contemporary art. The collaboration with seasoned professionals is intended to strengthen activist curatorial practice in realizing ambitious, creatively conceived presentations that cross borders, identities and circumstances. It goes without saying that this approach includes consideration of alternative spaces and sites across Providence County. Stimulating diverse audiences is another key goal.

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