Ocean State of the Arts: Art communities past, present, and future in East Providence

Dinner Table (detail), by Jungil Hong. (Photo: Gina Lerman)


On a gloomy Sunday in late May, lovers of art had not just one – but two – reasons to leave their cozy homes and head to East Providence. The day saw show openings at contemporary gallery ODD-KIN and the newly unveiled auxiliary space of the Creative Reuse Center of RI.


Tucked away in the shadow of I-195, just across from the Seekonk River, you will find a small industrial building. Through the spring and summer, when there is a show opening, the doors are flung open. Inside, multiple generations of creatives browse the walls while gaggles of children play outside. Seeing so many people viewing and discussing art in this small, welcoming space is a reminder of what makes Rhode Island so special.

The communal excitement of the opening is owed in part to ODD-KIN’s founder Kate McNamara. McNamara is a curator, author, and educator who works to support Rhode Island’s creative community. She is a co-founder of the Interlace Grant Fund for local artists, and the executive and creative director of My HomeCourt — a non-profit that revitalizes basketball courts in city parks with vibrant art. The latest show at ODD-KIN feels like an extension of this ethos.

Self Portraits I and II, by Jungil Hong. (Photo: Gina Lerman)

Through the gallery’s open doors, a panorama unfolds. A huge cylinder wrapped in jacquard woven fabric lays across the floor, softly focused portraits adorn the walls, and a long, low table is packed with an intriguing array of small objects. The mélange of artifacts demands closer inspection – even prompting viewers to kneel down and look, in a posture of reverence. There are locks of hair, dainty animal bones, boxes with painted patterns, time-faded photographs, little ceramic structures. Beyond the table, an enormous and richly detailed screen print dominates the back wall, surrounded by more woven fabric arrangements. Twenty years of work by Providence-based artist and designer Jungil Hong comes together in this show: The Time Being.

Between San Souci and the Setting Sun by Jungil Hong

Of all the materials Hong uses in her work, time is the substance that diffuses throughout the exhibition. The intense, psychedelic patterning present in screen-printed Between San Souci and the Setting Sun (2007) takes on a new form in jacquard woven Bitmap (2015). These works are representative of Hong’s vast body of Fort Thunder-era narrative silkscreen prints, which grew more abstract over time, eventually making the jump from paper to textiles.

The beautiful fabric also changes shape from piece to piece — zig-zagging here, rolling there, and cast off into the corner. Hong’s series of self-portraits (2024) gaze down at the small pile of fabric below like a discarded past identity. The portraits — some of them pieced together — have soft distressed edges. They embody the artist’s shifting sense of self over time, looking back on two decades of art, and forward into an unknown future.

The Time Being runs through July 21 at ODD-KIN, 89 Valley St, East Providence. Limited edition silkscreens designed by Jungil Hong and printed by Salad Editions are available at the gallery’s print and book shop. Learn more at


The Eye of Childhood Wonder, by Laura Pichardo. (Photo: Gina Lerman)

Nearby, a humble office building has been repurposed to exhibit the work of a new generation of artists. The space at 1017 Waterman Ave is the latest extension of the Creative Reuse Center of RI. CRC is a trove of materials for educators, artists, kids, and anyone else working on a creative project. They have collections of reusable items available for affordable prices. Beads, fabric, glitter, paint, magazines, hardware, buttons, paper, tools, and things you didn’t know you needed abound. There is a dedicated area for kids to play while adults peruse the materials or attend one of CRC’s community crafting workshops and events.

This spring, CRC hosted its first cohort of Barbara Grandis Artist Residencies, named for founder and director Elizabeth Ochs’ grandmother. These six residents met weekly in the space, received professional mentorship, and utilized CRC materials to create their works. Artist Hannah Bashkow coordinated the inaugural program. AJ Delsignor, Souvy Souvannaseng, Laura Pichardo, Leia Fifer, Sarah Samways, and Sylvia Atwood spent six weeks working alongside each other to produce the art on display at Reclaiming Wonder.

A floral still-life by the late Barbara Grandis is displayed at the entrance, inviting you into what feels like a warm, familial space. A craft room is off to the left where viewers can make their own collage, and the gallery opens to the right, filled with playful works in a wide range of materials, subjects, and themes.

Pichardo’s large wall hanging The Eye of Childhood Wonder looks directly back at the viewer. A round blue eye peers out from the center of a patchwork flower on a field of black fabric surrounded by stars. Pichardo describes her process of gaining inspiration from the materials she finds, and following the discoveries she makes with a childlike curiosity. The effect is striking — as if we are challenged to see ourselves and the world anew through the flower’s eye.

The Dog Days by Leia Fifer. (Photo: Gina Lerman)

At the back wall, a series of small, intricate dioramas are perched together. Fifer’s series reveals a narrative about the artist’s childhood abuse, culminating in her finding a sense of happiness and belonging as an adult. Fifer incorporates collaged text and images, her sibling’s childhood art, little wooden toys, and penciled portraits in the disquieting scene of The House. In The Dog Days, her figure is central to the scene, orbited by rabbits, costume pearls, and metal spikes that denote softness and confusion beneath a protective armor. The Home is an effervescent depiction of Fifer’s current life decorated with whimsical patterns, animals, and bright colors. A small nest hangs from the front, filled with smiling clay figures, offering their warmth to the viewer.

All of the artists spoke with gratitude about their experience of the Barbara Grandis Residency. Some are recently graduated, some are self-taught, some are busy parents, and all benefited from a close, supportive community of artists and the dedicated time and space to elaborate on their unique points of view.

The Creative Reuse Center of RI is located at 991 Waterman Ave and is open Tuesdays 9am – 1pm, Thursday 3 – 6pm, and Sundays noon – 4pm. Shop with a day pass or become a member to support the CRC’s mission. Learn more at