The old aphorism “As above, so below,” has often been used in a secular context to mean that things experienced on a macroscopic scale find expression all the way downstream in the microcosm of everyday life. As Dr. Micah Salkind, Special Projects Manager in the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism at the City of Providence, suggests in his exhibition statement for the current show at the Gallery at City Hall, “When it comes to the built environment, our federal policies, such as urban renewal, have implications on policies and cultural shifts affecting the City of Providence’s downtown streetscapes.”
As a native of Providence, Roberta Kaufman took countless photographs of structures that were demolished as part of the urban redevelopment plan envisioned in 1982 by Mayor Cianci. She recalls riding her bike around the old train tracks of the Providence-Worcester Rail line as Bill Warner’s massive infrastructural plan began to take shape. The photographs in this exhibition represent a small sampling of the archive of work Roberta produced over the course of 50 years.
Dr. Salkind thought it would be illuminating to pair Roberta’s work with that of documentary filmmaker and painter Carla Ricci, a recent transplant to Providence. He says, “Carla Ricci observes the cultural shifts that have taken place in the City with a less retrospective gaze. To me it seemed that, if viewed together, Roberta’s photographs and Carla’s paintings might give audiences a robust, rounded perspective on the moment we find ourselves in now, in which dogmas are being complimented and challenged by the ideas and viewpoints of newcomers. We have much to learn when we honor the legacies of our past and encourage bold new visions for the future.”
As Above, So Below: Visions of Transformation in Down City Providence by Carla Ricci and Roberta Kaufman August 15 through October 14 | August 15: Opening Reception between 4:30pm and 6:30pm