From the exceptional craftsmanship of the Industrial Revolution to the underground noise rock scene of the 1990s, Providence is built on a rich and diverse legacy of artistic experimentation. And like its past, Providence’s contemporary culture is steeped in art and design. You’ll find a range of organizations and communities beyond campus that will elevate your practice and encourage you to engage with the city at large. Be sure to check out the following art- and design-related resources when you get here.
Art supply and material stores
Beyond the risd:store, risd:store 3D and RISD 2nd Life on campus, there are a number of local hardware and art supply stores. On the East Side, they include Blick Art Materials and Adler’s Design Center & Hardware on Wickenden Street in Fox Point and Jerry’s Artarama on North Main Street in Mount Hope. Home Depot, Lowe’s and Harbor Freight all have locations in and around Providence. And Lorraine Fabrics in Pawtucket is a short drive north of campus.
Nearby resources to utilize
AS220 is an artist-run organization in downtown Providence committed to providing an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. It offers artists opportunities to live, work, exhibit and/or perform in its facilities, which include several rotating gallery spaces, a performance stage, a black-box theater, a print shop, a darkroom and media arts lab, a fabrication and electronics lab, a dance studio, a youth program focusing on youth under state care and in the juvenile detention facilities, four dozen affordable live/work studios for artists, and a bar and restaurant.
Located on the city's South Side, Providence CityArts is nonprofit organization committed to creating social change through arts education and advocacy. Serving more than 800 elementary and middle school students annually, the teachers there (some of whom are RISD alumni) provide arts workshops and lead several other activities that introduce young people to the transformative potential of the arts. In advancing its mission, CityArts frequently partners with colleges and universities throughout the state as well with RI-based artists and other arts organizations.
The Design Office
The Design Office was founded by RISD Graphic Design faculty member John Caserta in 2007 to answer the creative needs of independent designers in Providence by providing office space, shared equipment, community and resources. In addition to providing these essentials, it initiates and supports collaborative projects and proposals.
Hope Artist Village
Hope Artiste Village, one of the largest mill restoration projects in Rhode Island, is a hub of cultural activity fostering collaboration and innovation among a diverse community of creatives and professionals. Located on Main Street in Pawtucket, the Village hosts a creative mix of art studios, live/work lofts, retail shops, light industrial workshops and professional office suites. The mill space boasts cafes, a coffee roaster, a live music venue, fitness studios, designers, artisans, event spaces and a bustling wintertime farmers market.
New Urban Arts
Founded in 1997, New Urban Arts is a nationally recognized community arts studio for high school students and emerging artists on the West Side of Providence. The organization’s mission is to build a vital community that empowers young people as artists and leaders to develop a creative practice they can sustain throughout their lives. NUA supports students’ wider, holistic development through partnerships with organizations like College Visions, The Providence Public Schools, the Rhode Island College School of Social Work and a variety of social service networks.
The Providence Athenaeum is an independent, member-supported library and cultural center located on historic Benefit Street next to the RISD campus. Over its nearly 200 years of existence, the library has welcomed writers, thinkers and community members to engage in reading, conversation and debate. RISD students are able to borrow books from the Athenæum using their RISD library account.
The Steel Yard
The Steel Yard is an award-winning industrial arts center, a manufacturer of custom and functional public art, a craft school and shared studio, and Providence’s most unique private outdoor venue. Its 3.8-acre campus, located in Olneyville, serves as a sponsor and catalyst for innovative approaches to urban revitalization, arts promotion, workforce development and community growth.
Tillinghast Place is RISD’s satellite location on Narragansett Bay in Barrington, RI. It serves as a location for off-campus classes and as a private beach and picnic ground for the RISD community. Parking is widely available and the East Bay Bike Path provides easy access for cyclists.
The Updike Collection at Providence Public Library
Providence Public Library’s collection of books on printing was begun in 1910 with the purchase of more than 1,000 duplicate books from the St. Bride Library in London. The purchase was made at the suggestion of Mr. Daniel Berkeley Updike of Boston, the proprietor of the Merrymount Press and the author of Printing Types: Their History, Forms, and Use, who bequeathed his personal collection of books on printing to the library.
Today the collection contains about 7,500 volumes, 600 letters and other manuscripts, hundreds of prints (mostly portraits of printers, typefounders, booksellers and publishers), much printed ephemera and some artifacts including three printing presses, a wooden type case, a set of punches and two sets of matrices for the Montallegro and Merrymount types.
The Wurks is a collaboratively managed artists’ workspace located in Olneyville. The space houses communal wood and metal fabrication shops, a print shop and an exhibition space, as well as sizable studio spaces for both individual artists and groups. The Wurks exists as a place for a diverse group of artists and designers to foster a community of hard work and forward thinking in the Ocean State.