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A Lively Experiment at Roger Williams National Memorial

A Lively Experiment  an art installation in Roger Williams National Memorial which will be part of Providence’s 375th Celebration,.  A Lively Experiment aims to connect Providence residents to each other and to the city’s history through creative garden design..

            The installation will take the form of a parabolic curve seamlessly integrated into the park’s landscape, echoing the existing successful design  . When we posted an online comment blog (www.alivelyexperiment.net) , most park visitors wrote that they enjoy the park as it is – describing Roger Williams National Memorial as safe and tranquil. In keeping with the overall approval of the park, we decided to adopt the existing language (the park’s grass, flowers and sloped landscape) into our design.

            The grassy arc and the flowers planted on it serve, on one hand, to celebrate the park as an inner city oasis. The sculpture’s position at the edge of the park, would also function to attract new visitors. People driving down North Main Street may be intrigued by the sculpture and pull over to take a look. One of the commenters online described RWNM as a “hidden gem.” We hope that A Lively Experiment will introduce more people to the park, allowing the space to grow as a community hub. 

            From a distance A Lively Experiment extends upwards towards the sky in a graceful arc, but when people interact with the piece at close proximity they will also see the chalkboard paneling on the sides of the structure. On each panel we will pose a question such as “Where is your favorite place to go in Providence?” or “How would you describe the city?” Visitors will be able to easily respond to these prompts with the chalk provided.

            The prompts will encourage positive reflection on Providence, but may also raise some important issues that Providence faces. Rob Goldman, an educator in South Providence, described one of the main issues he sees with the city: the socioeconomic divisions. He told us, “I rarely see people from my side of town here [in the park].” The chalkboard panels  are meant to encourage dialog  about class divisions in Public Space.

            A Lively Experiment will represent a unification of the divided territories of Providence through an assembly of plants. We plan to purchase flowers from a wide range of shops and locations and we will identify where the flowers came from on small tags in the sculpture. Likewise we will reach out to a diverse range of neighborhoods to take part in the late May opening celebration describing the project and giving directions (in multiple languages).

            The Lively Experiment is, in a literal sense, a living piece of artwork that celebrates the park along with attracting new visitors. It is also lively in the interactions it will foster. In a way, the work will become a forum in which the community can exalt in their shared love for the city and exchange ideas for improving it.