ARTS MENTORING FELLOWS
From 2007-2014, New Urban Arts hosted the Arts Mentoring Fellowship, which supported two artists at a time whose work embodied the nature of mentoring at New Urban Arts. They supported the professional development of artist mentors, shared knowledge about our practice, and produced artistic and intellectual work in response about their experience at New Urban Arts.
Eli Nixon is the human behind many Ramshackle Enterprises. They create puppet shows, piñatas, parades, pageants, clown acts, suitcase theaters, illustrations, masks, magical lands, and other spectaculah—on their own, and in collaboration with other humans of all ages, abilities, and persuasions. Mostly they use cardboard, science, and the imagination.
Their performances and installations occur in galleries, garages, street corners, and stages. Since 1999, Eli has been a teaching artist and an artist-in-residence at museums, libraries, schools, senior centers, and at addiction recovery and mental health programs. They have had the opportunity to hone their artist educator/human chops by participating in The Artists in Communities Training Program at The Asian Arts Initiative, Undoing Racism Trainings with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, and other ice-breaker filled learning labs. They were awarded a 2010 Leeway Transformation Award for their art and social change work. Eli has an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College; their thesis work was entitled “Navigating Curious Terrain: An Illustrated Field Guide to Ethics, Power and Imagination in Community-based Puppetry and Personal Practice.” Eli believes in the power of bike helmets, cornstarch, tide pools, emancipatory pedagogy, utopian performatives, and snacks. They build portals and gives guided tours to places that don’t yet exist.
Rick Benjamin, poet laureate of the State of Rhode Island, is a community artist who currently practices art-making & learning at Brown University (Environmental Studies & Public Humanities), RISD (Literary Arts), Goddard College (in their MFA program in Interdisciplinary Arts), and in many other learning communities in & around Providence (among them elementary, middle, & high schools and assisted living centers). While his primary medium is poetry, he is also interested & has been engaged with collaborative installations, performance pieces, print-making & language designing & glass-blowing, among other things. His first book, Passing Love, was published in 2010 by Wolf Ridge Press in San Francisco, & his next, Floating World, is forthcoming in 2013. He is generally determined to stretch the boundaries of what it means to be human & to explore inquiry & encounters into the non-human, sentient world as well.
Emmy Bright has traversed fields as an arts administrator, teaching artist, board member, art teacher, professor, and researcher. In addition to working at New Urban Arts in Providence, Emmy teaches Art Education graduate students at City College New York. She also was recently a volunteer trainer for Girls Rock Rhode Island and a consultant for the Cloud Foundation in Boston, MA. She holds a B.A. in Art History from University of Chicago and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In other studies, including at Penland School of Crafts and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she has worked and trained in community radio, papermaking, fiber and material studies, clown/performance, and printmaking. Her creative practice has multiple foci: one eye is in her studio, where she makes prints, drawings, and illuminated paper forms about ideas of loss, language, and socialness. She is glad to be a member of Providence’s community of print makers, educators, garden diggers, experience curators, question askers, teenagers, co-learners, and other kin-type folk.
Kedrin Frias was born and raised in Providence, RI. He first arrived at New Urban Arts as a student, while attending Central High School. He later returned to New Urban Arts ready to volunteer as an Artist Mentor during his sophomore year at Rhode Island College and remained an artist mentor for the next seven years. He graduated RIC with a degree in studio art and an art teaching certification for grades K-12. He has worked with various youth organizations, including the Steel Yard, Providence CityArts, Youth in Action, and the Paul Cuffee Charter School. He has led many community mural projects, including teaching the Mu Crew at New Urban Arts in 2009, a six week summer program in which high school students painted an outdoor mural on behalf of the Providence Arts, Culture + Tourism Department and the Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston. Kedrin believes that everyone can draw, it’s just that some people have forgotten they can. He currently serves as a substitute art teacher for the city of Providence.
Peter Hocking is an interdisciplinary artist, teacher, and social activist. His work is primarily concerned with narrative and the construction of identity within the context of contemporary social and political life. He was the Director of the Office of Public Engagement at Rhode Island School of Design while a fellow at New Urban Arts. Prior to that, he was Associate Dean of the College and director of the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University; he led an organization that’s helped to define public service in higher education. As an academic dean, he worked to integrate community practice with the academic curriculum. Locally, he’s worked with dozens of non-profit organizations as a partner, board member, and strategic planning leader, including New Urban Arts, Community Music Works, AIDS Project Rhode Island, The Rhode Island Service Alliance, Equity Action/The Rhode Island Foundation, and Southside Community Land Trust. He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. In addition, he was trained in leadership for social change and progressive education pedagogy at the Highlander Center for Education and Social Research.
Andrew Oesch is an Artist Educator living in Providence, RI. He sees learning as a space for expansive collaborative making. Past projects with students have ranged from exploring oral histories of families and communities transforming the classroom environment through costumes and temporary installations. He is interested in moments when many meanings pile up, particularly through social and art/design media. The Processes and work surrounding these moments are messy, ephemeral, ambiguous, and a great deal of fun. Currently, he is working at The Learning Community in Central Falls as a 7th and 8th grade teaching artist in addition to being an artist educator at the RISD Museum. From 2006-08, Andrew was an Artist Mentor, and is now a member of the board of directors.