Re: Going Nowhere

Molly Booker has been a Providence residence for 11 years, and is an embed in the Olneyville arts community.

“Going Nowhere: Alumni Artists in Providence,” currently on display at the Bell Gallery, actually feels like the artists have been in conversation with each other — perhaps visiting studio spaces, or going to the same shows, or, maybe even, somehow ending up dating the same people.  The works in the exhibition, curated by Jori Ketten with Alexis Lowry Murray, are an Armillaria ostoyae of Providence; a many-headed fungus with a single deep-running root.


Looking at Jenny Nichols screenprints

Breathe in, for instance, the absolute love of line in David Udris’ compact and complex prints, then wander over to the works of Kevin Hooyman for a much more narrative take on the theme.  Or, remember the texture and playfulness of Tatyana Yanishevsky’s installations as you absorb Xander Marro’s quilts… and from there, riff off of Xander’s colors, patterns, and the placement of individual elements within the compositions as you peruse over to Jenny Nichols’ “Crash’s Law,” “Blues Dogs” and “Green Dogs.”


García Márquez would have agreed with Hooyman’s larger pieces – particularly the magnetism of the mutedly colored panels. Foster Wallace (if you’ve read anything he’s written about Kafka) would have dug Peter Glantz’ Chronos-inspired tale of pending fatherhood.  In fact, there is something grandchild-of-Kafka-like in the root of this whole big mushroom: something unspeakably magical happened to me, then I discovered how small and insignificant I am. But hey – guess what? I am still unspeakably magical.

Kath Connolly ’89, is an educator who lives and makes in Providence, RI.  She was a founder of New Urban Arts and Card Carrying Liberal, an activist greeting card company.  She still reads news in print. 

There are so many of us Going Nowhere.  When Providence was fondly known as The Armpit of New England and the pedestrian route from the east side to downtown involved an area known as Suicide Circle, there were people who said, “Oh yeah, this is a place.”  If you fell more in love with Providence than the Ivy League you might hide your Brown affiliation a little in the neighborhoods where you chose to live and work and create. For the first time I’ve seen, Going Nowhere invited the Still Here artists back to campus.


Checking out Xander Marro’s Quilt Movie/Fabric Theater (2014), at the opening of Going Nowhere: Alumni Artists in Providence

While Providence’s “art scene” is now touted in glossy magazines and has an office in city hall, what makes it work is the less alphabetized quality it has retained.  Going Nowhere captured the in-between-ness, color, and edge that I saw when I arrived in Providence in the 80s and that keeps me here paying taxes.  Hooyman’s water color / ink narratives alone made me want to sit quietly for another hour or so. David Udris’s digital prints (wasn’t he or his brother in that Marxist literary theory seminar I got lost in?) encouraged my mind to swim.

I loved that this show popped up the second the campus emptied of its officialness.  After the pomp, the Going Nowheres wandered over to campus for their own pomp, which included free hummus on the lawn outside List.  When I was a first year, registering for the intro studio class meant sleeping on that lawn.

Perhaps it is the open nature of the curriculum that attracts/ breeds people willing to fight through bureaucracy for an idea (or to register for intro art), but many Brown grads are organizers.  Many alumni artists who are Still Here have enabled festivals, spaces, film series, parades, non-profits, bike rides, protests, noisy things, and things that happened only once under the cover of darkness.  Those are the things that make Providence a community.

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