Year of the City Branded Partnership

Forces of Nature

Special exhibition and forum connects plants to people, policy, planning


Showcasing the work of 20 exceptional artists from across New England, ReSeeding the City: Ethnobotany in the Urban opens to the public this fall in the historic State House. The special exhibition, curated by Judith Tolnick Champa, was developed under the aegis of the Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art for The Year of the City: The Providence Project. The Rhode Island People’s House is a just-right, civic-minded site for this contemporary project. Through their work, artists refresh and “re-seed” our perception of urban life – particularly through plants. How might we strike sustainable balance in our environment? they ask, as they ponder our ecosystems curiously yet carefully, and ever-creatively.

The art exposes a range of imaginative responses to the often-contending forces of people and plants in the urban setting. The exhibition is launched by an inaugural forum, both components overseen by Jennifer Dalton Vincent of Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth.

The forum at Brown University, organized by Sam Coren, Aja Grande, and Alexandra M. Picker, offers space for art and science to inspire activism, policy, and planning. Distinguished speakers – invited artists, academics, and community practitioners from New England and beyond – join with RI residents to re-envision the urban as a hub of more-than-human social worlds; the forum looks to plants as models, metaphors, and partners in urban placemaking. It explores what it means to hold tightly to the rich assemblage of life forms that take root in our midst – in gardens to roadside margins.

ReSeeding the City: Ethnobotany in the Urban
Exhibition runs October 25-November 27 in the Rhode Island State House Lower Level Gallery | 82 Smith Street

Forum on October 26, 9:30am-5pm in Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs in Stephen Robert ’62 Hall | 280 Brook Street

State House Reception on October 26, 5:30-8pm | 82 Smith Street

This project is generously supported by the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism; Brown University’s Cogut Institute for the Humanities, Department of American Studies, John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, and Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs; Providence Biennial for Contemporary Art; Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth; Providence Tourism Council; Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; Rhode Island Department of State; Rhode Island State Council for the Arts; Rhode Island Wild Plant Society; Tomaquag Museum; and by many individual donors.