Art! Dance! And More Food: Looking ahead to PVDFest

ExtrodinaryRenditionBandOnce again, PVDFest takes to the streets in celebration of rich arts and culture communities from RI and around the world. From June 6 through 9, there will be dance, art installations, an ideas festival and food (think a 50+ food truck “village” in Kennedy Plaza) throughout the public spaces. Sponsored by Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, FirstWorks and the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture+Tourism, it will be an energetic, exciting and uplifting event to help us shed the cold weather and usher in the summer.
One of the best aspects of PVDFest is much of the art on display and performances are meant to be engaged with in some way. This is especially true for the installation pieces destined for specific locales scattered throughout PVD. These works are meant to be explored — they feel organic, working with the building blocks of the city and writing in the visitor’s experience as part of their own. These interactive mixed-media works allow festival-goers to engage with them and find unique paths through them. They also are designed to exist harmoniously with the space that they occupy, since applicants needed to select a location for the work when applying. And they’ll live on beyond the end of PVDFest — they will remain installed throughout the summer. Motif caught up with three pioneering installation artists who will be showcasing their work at the festival.

“The Good Luck Gateway,” created by Vinnie Ray

For Vinnie, what began as a hobby — making a collection of stickers with motivational phrases and well-wishes — has turned into an installation. Vinnie’s path to PVDFest is somewhat unusual, which makes it all the more compelling. He worked as an artist in Brooklyn, but when he moved to Rhode Island, he took a creative hiatus. Once he started creating the stickers, he found himself committed to artistic practice once again. Upon hearing about PVDFest’s call for artists, Vinnie applied, and was ecstatic when accepted.

The Gateway serves as both sculpture and a passageway. Visitors follow the artist’s instructions as they go through the passageway, breathing in and remembering the luckiest moment in their lives, and finally exhaling when leaving the gate. Located in Empire Plaza, it is part art and part meditation. It is  20 feet wide by 12 feet high, and is decorated with a lightning bolt at the top, with a rainbow arch falling into clouds. Colorful and cheerful, one side of the arch reads “good” and the other says “luck.”

For Vinnie, “the idea [of the work] is to activate your own good luck, activate the energetic state that you would need to be in to attract good luck and positivity, so the more positive  you are, the more positive things happen…you start looking for positive things to happen, expecting them to happen, and that’s when really that’s when you start to feel lucky.” Visitors can also check out the sight and sound spectacle that he will create after the festival’s press conference that will be filled with good energy and purple smoke bombs.

“Sign-In,” created by Area C Projects

Located on a sidewalk near City Hall, this poignant piece is all about “civic discourse and voice,” and its location is definitely intentional. The artists reworked several actual street signs, writing phrases on them taken from The Providence Journal. On one side of the installation, the phrases begin with a “we” statement and on the side facing them they begins with a “they.” But the phrases on the signs themselves are generally de-politized. What is politicised — or at least evoking politisization — is the set-up. Area C Projects, a collaboration between Erik Carlson and Erica Carpenter, has done a lot of work with language as a part of their oeuvre, and this piece in particular is about the “different stances people take on an issue and the language that they use.” It will make visitors engage with dichotomy. The title of the piece is particularly fitting, as it is a play on “sit in.”

“Pnit,” created by Pneuhaus in collaboration with Smooth Technology

Drawing inspiration from RI’s history as a major textile producer, this 3D hanging installation is something for viewers to explore, while paying homage to some of the stories that make up the fabric of the Ocean State. Made out of yarn and decorated with LED lights, the piece will create a vibrant atmosphere when installed in the parking garage of the Civic Center. We spoke with August Lehrecke of Pneuhaus about the inspiration behind the piece:

“Our studio has always been interested in developing the craft of inflatables as well as exploring the various forms and experiences that they can facilitate. Because the materials we are working with are essentially the thickness of a piece of paper, we are able to scale certain forms to a size that would be very difficult to achieve out of solid materials. This installation originally began as an experiment of scaling up a typical knit pattern by turning each yarn into a 2-foot inflated tube. At a macro scale, the pattern gains many new associations and possibilities. One of these possibilities includes being able to incorporate lighting into the piece. The volume of the inflatable provides a great diffuser for LEDs embedded on the surface. With the incorporation of the LEDs and programming, we hope to transform the parking garage into a dynamic tapestry of light.”

PVDFest turns the entire city into an art installation. For one glorious weekend, folks come out to make art, see art and be art. With stellar performances, creative opportunities and the chance to explore the city from a lightly different perspective, this is a summer kick-off event that can’t be missed. For more information and performance schedules, go to