This project has been made possible by a grant from the Creative Arts Council of Brown University.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Providence Postcard Project

Last week at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University was the opening of “The Providence Postcard Project” by artist Betsey Biggs, which featured a postcard of the Arcade. It was a project realised as part of the Urban Cultural Heritage and Creative Practice international research collaborative, and is summarised in this excerpt from the UCHCP website:

1000 postcards – 100 photographs – 22 neighborhoods. ”The Postcard Project,” by artist Betsey Biggs, explores the familiar souvenir medium of postcards as a source of reflection by the residents of Providence on what meanings the city holds. Beginning this week, the project will be distributing pre-addressed, postage-paid postcards featuring photographs taken by Biggs during her visits to the neighborhoods of Providence. Local residents and members of the general public are invited to pick up postcards at Providence Community Library locations throughout the city, write to the Postcard Project, and share their own stories about the many places of Providence.
One of Betsey’s photographs featured the Arcade, and there were some fascinating responses that I got to read at the opening of the exhibition. Betsey was kind enough to let me reproduce the Arcade postcards on this blog, as they provide an interesting addition to the research conducted for this project.

Front of the postcard featuring the Arcade, from "The Providence Postcard Project" by Betsey Biggs. The photo depicts the stairs to the second balcony level on the Weybosset St side.

When I saw this postcard at the opening reception of the exhibition, only the top message was there. This was written by Tim, one of the dancers involved in this project, and details the phrase that occurred on these steps as part of the piece. The message below was added during the time the exhibition was up, and seems to be a response to the new plans unveiled for the Arcade.

I would love to hear more of this story.

This was another postcard that had a second note added to it while being on display in the Granoff. The sideway message is hard to make out, but reads roughly as follows:

'Worked on second floor in sales / saw many stores come + go / 2nd floor not much traffic. First night nice music they hosted/ Johnson + Wales / store (?) full of yummy thin (?) / the Prov ____ / ____? not sure but giant cookies'

Cookies have come up before in some of the interviews I did way back in September (see here and here for two sets of memories that involved the cookies); memories connect and interweave, maybe blur, and ultimately reinforce a sense of place triggered by the invitation to write on the back of an empty postcard. 

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