KINGSTON—November 17, 2009–An oil painting with subtle blue and yellow streaks highlighting a deep, sophisticated gray landscape hangs over the living room fireplace against a Keaney blue wall. The unique abstract is one of 40 pieces of art created by University of Rhode Island students, faculty, and alumni that are displayed throughout URI President David M. Dooley’s and the Rev. Lynn Baker-Dooley’s home on Upper College Road.
“When we first walked around the house, the dining room space immediately looked like a gallery to us,” said Baker-Dooley. The Dooleys spoke with the chair of URI’s Art and Art History Department Bob Dilworth, who made the idea a reality by putting out a call for entries last summer.
“The presidential collection is the first of its kind at URI. I think it sends a powerful message to the state and the region, “ Dilworth said. “It’s a strong show highlighting only a fraction of the best of our faculty, students and alumni. It could very well add much to the already rich culture that exists in the state. Being a leader means setting standards. I think the Dooleys and the university are well ahead of other institutions with this initiative.”
The exhibit will be bi-annual with a rotation of the artwork to allow new work to be showcased. However, the student works will be up for at least a year. Of the 40 pieces in the exhibit, 28 were created by students and alumni.
“It was funny seeing my work hanging, as I went through the process, the idea that my work would be a vital piece of art in the university president’s house- astonished me, “ said student artist Erik Giorgi of Riverside.
The Dooleys have always had an appreciation for the arts. “I think we have both had a long standing interest in the stories that are told through art, in how artists express themselves and comment on the state of the world when they create their work. All of that is fascinating,” said the URI president.
Artists struggle to get work viewed by the public. The Dooleys hope to help by hosting this exhibit, which can be viewed in an online gallery as well. Most pieces are for sale and prices are available for anyone who is interested by contacting the artist directly. (http://uriaah.org/gallery)
The online gallery functions as a “high-traffic” area for students to display their current work to entice prospective employers, help with graduate school applications and internships or to gain artist residencies.
“Any opportunity to showcase my artwork is very much appreciated,” said student artist Katie Picard of Warwick, who has two of her portraits hanging in the president’s house. “The online gallery is beneficial to me as a prospective student for graduate schools.”
The art department is creating a tabletop photography book containing the art of exhibit at the president’s house with the biographies on each artist, including other students. The proceeds from the book, which will be out in the upcoming weeks, will go toward several art scholarships for URI students.
A series of historical photographs from the University Library’s Department of Special Collections will also hang throughout the president’s house. Baker-Dooleys favorite shows Robert Frost speaking with students in the Memorial Union while a photo of an old chemistry lab caught the eye of the president, a scientist. “It was very educational for us,” said Baker-Dooley of the archival collection. “We hope it will really get people to appreciate how far the University has come since its founding, how much it’s changed, how the University has grown and expanded its reach,” said Dooley.
“The exhibition is a very visible symbol of a new beginning,” Dilworth said. “Visual arts, and by extension, film, the performing arts, music and other creative forms will play a much more vital role in defining URI’s place in the world.”
The Dooleys continue to look for other opportunities for the URI community to be a part of the house. “We want this to be a home that is open to the community, that involves them, that welcomes them and welcomes guests to the university,” Dooley said. “We want everyone to have an opportunity to be in the home at some point.”
The couple would love to have a piano in the house, as they both love music and would love for it to be a place students felt comfortable playing and practicing.
Artist featured in the collection:
Name, Hometown, Affiliation, Medium
Ben Anderson, Barrington R.I., Faculty , Red earthenware
Jeffrey Bertell, Wakefield R.I. , Faculty, Graphite
Michelle Caraccia, Narragansett R.I., Student, Stone Lithograph
David DeMelim, Charlestown R.I. , Alumni, Photography/ultrachrome print
Robert Dilworth, Providence R.I. , Faculty, Mixed media
Erik Giorgi, Riverside R.I., Student, Print
Ron Hutt, N. Providence R.I., Faculty, Acrylic on canvas
Brian Kenny, Exeter R.I., Students, 35 mm and digital photo
Valerie Kitchin, N. Smithfield , Alumni, Archival inkjet photographs
William Klenk, Wakefield R.I. , Faculty, Acrylic/collage
Victoria Lockard, Providence R.I., Alumni, Relief print
Annu Matthew, Providence R.I., Faculty, Archival digital print
Ian Mohon, Providence R.I., Student, Collages
Brian O’Malley, Greenville R.I., Faculty, Oil on canvas
Titiloa Oyegunle, Providence R.I., Student, Oil on canvas
Barbara Pagh, Wakefield R.I., Faculty, Photolithograph on handmade paper
Katie Picard, Warwick R.I., Student, Pastel or charcoal on paper
Gary Richman, Exeter R.I., Faculty, Collage
Lilla Samson, Wakefield R.I., Faculty, Digital photo
Brendan Sullivan, Holden, Mass., Alumni
Ron Hutt, associate professor of art, chats with the Rev. Lynn Baker-Dooley at a reception for artists at the president’s house on the Kingston campus. Beyond Hutt’s shoulder hangs an archival inkjet photo created by Valerie Kitchin of North Smithfield. Kitchen graduated from URI with an art degree in 2008.
URI art student Brian Kenney of Exeter stands in front of his art pieces that hang in the URI president’s house.
Two photo lithographs on handmade paper created by Barbara Pagh, URI professor of art and art history, are among the works that grace URI President David M. Dooley’s and the Rev. Lynn Baker-Dooley’s house on URI’s Kingston campus.
URI photos by Nora Lewis.