Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Harrison Grigsby

HopePINK3-Harrison-Grigsby.jpgHarrison Grigsby, aka Jon Hope, is a multidisciplinary hip hop artist and educator. He teaches at Roger Williams University, focusing on hip hop and urban culture and art, and the intersection with community development. He is the 2019 RISCA Fellow in Music Composition.

We asked him a few questions about his life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: What do you love about the art community/scene in Rhode Island?

HG: I love the counter stories and the counterculture here that is slowly but surely getting louder with their voice. There are so many stories that weren’t being heard and now we are creating our own outlets, spaces, and opportunities for those stories to be told. That’s a dope feeling.

RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?

HG: I was born and raised in Providence. I’ve had the opportunity to live in other major cities (ATL, Brooklyn, Richmond) but there is something about the cultural melting pot that is Providence and the niche things that you can engage in in short proximity. The Liberians, Dominicans, Haitians, Southeast Asians, Nigerians, and more communities are all neighbors with something to contribute – especially food!

RISCA: What is one thing, personal or professional, that you or (if applicable) your organization want to accomplish in the next year?

HG: I want to share my art and my voice on a larger scale. Rhode Island has given me the support and confidence to scale up and share it with the world. Furthermore, I would like Hip Hop culture to have a stronger presence in the academic space. This is why I started the Hope Scholars Initiative – to leverage Hip Hop’s impact to engage students in a much more sensible way when it comes education.

RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?

HG: We need to invest in our own. I see so many events being curated under the guise of Rhode Island/Providence centric art but it’s out of towners or transplants who are predominantly featured. Furthermore, we need to properly compensate and value the homegrown artistry and artists. The more that we celebrate HOMEGROWN through adequate showcasing and compensation, the more we will truly thrive.

RISCA: What is the biggest challenge for you in your art life?

HG: The biggest challenge is honestly securing adequate funding. I want to increase visibility and continue to connect with allies and organizations who value the impact of Hip Hop culture. There’s still a community of people who see Hip Hop still as a novelty or other. They’re in for an enlightenment because Hip Hop is going to be here whether they accept it or not. That’s always the spirit and energy that we rely on.

You can follow Jon Hope on instagram, twitter, and facebook. Check out his single, Eat!

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Elizabeth Duffy

beth2017-elizabeth-duffy.jpgElizabeth Duffy is a multidisciplinary artist whose current work explores the subject of incarceration and its intersection with domestic life. Her work is influenced by feminist art, interior decoration and craft, and the complicated ideals of home. She is the 2019 RISCA Fellow in Three Dimensional Art, and Merit Fellow in Craft.

We asked her a few questions about her life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

 

RISCA: What do you love about the art community/scene in Rhode Island?

ED: I love how Rhode Island embraces artists who live here. I 1rhodelslandinstallationsm - elizabeth duffylove that space is affordable, so you can have a decent studio (with a window!) to make work. I came here from New York City 13 years ago, and I’ve felt the resources and engaged community here have really helped me find new directions in my work. I’m fascinated by the long history of making in Rhode Island, and the way those spaces and tools are being reused to make art. Anything feels possible in Rhode Island.

RISCA: What are you the most excited about right now in your art practice?

ED: I’ve been so inspired by the myriad historic spaces in and around Rhode Island. I love historic house museums and sites and these have motivated me to explore the role of place in my work more deeply.

Duffy_3-Unraveling-Chase-Bank-Prison-Funding-project-elizabeth-duffy.jpgRISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?

ED: I’m in awe of the majestic beauty that surrounds us here in Rhode Island–its natural beauty and its architecture is inspiring. I’m also driven to make work about social justice issues & I want my work to reflect the fury in our national conversation, past and present.

Rhode Island Cultural Anchor: Dr. David Neves

NevesPhoto1 - David Neves

Dr. David Neves is the Director of Youth Wind Ensembles for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School and coordinator of music education at the University of Rhode Island. In June, 2017, Dr. Neves retired from his position as Director of Fine and Performing Arts for the Needham Public Schools, Needham, Massachusetts, completing 41 years of full time work in public school music education. Prior to Needham, Dr. Neves served 29 years as a Music Teacher, Supervisor and Director of Bands in Scituate, Rhode Island.

We asked him a few questions about his life and art-making in Rhode Island for our new series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.

RISCA: Give us a brief overview of your day yesterday- what did you do in both your personal and professional life.

DN: My typical day begins with a daily walk and exercise program to clear my mind, work on my body (which needs a LOT of work) and generally get energized for the work. Being retired from full-time work enables me to spend my time doing what I love to do on my own terms. Currently, that means spending about 2 hours a day playing my horns (saxophone, clarinet, flute), 1 to 2 hours reviewing /studying scores for Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble (RIPYWE) rehearsals and future concert repertoire, and then on to work for my position as URI Coordinator of Music Education. This might include reviewing student teacher reflections, videos of teaching, prepping for upcoming seminar lectures, and researching topics and trends in music education. I also, at times, am preparing for workshops, clinics, and other supportive meetings I take on with local music teachers, school bands, and music programs, who reach out for advice. I also am able to keep up with professional readings on music education and our musical culture in general. Finally, in addition to my conducting, playing, and clinicing, I have a few private saxophone students who I adore that I teach weekly. In addition to the pure joy of teaching them, it keeps me engaged with many of the same challenges that my URI student teachers deal with in their placements. So, in a nutshell, I spend my days only doing what I absolutely love to do: teach music, play music, support music educators, promote music education as a vital part of every single student’s education, and keep myself growing musically and intellectually — while still having the extra time for the most important joys of life, my family–my wife Janice, my daughters Kristin, Jennifer and Amanda, and of course my two insanely wonderful grandsons, Alex and William!

RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?

DN: My parents, both immigrants from Portugal, chose to make RI their home, and thus mine. The rich mixture of our Portuguese heritage with the potpourri of the entire American melting pot is easily accessible, and always visible in our state. I guess I am a bit of a “home body” having been born here, grown up here, gone to school nearby (Boston), and then with my professional life primarily here and in nearby Massachusetts. Though I’ve never called any other place home, I’ve traveled enough, and seen enough to know that RI is still where I always want to come back to – my heritage and history is here, and I love being able to relive it and be reminded of how lucky I’ve been every single day. AND, at the same time, being so relatively “close” to other incredible cultural centers, including Boston, NYC, Canada and even Western Europe makes it a great place to call my home base.

RISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?

DN: I can’t imagine a world without it – and I know the power of music to transform lives for the better – the more music, the more joy and beauty in the world! I cannot thank enough my parents for mandating that I start taking lessons on my saxophone when I was 8, and “making” me practice! Neither of them were musicians in any way yet, for some reason, they just knew it was a super great thing to make their kids do! Thanks Mom and Dad!!

RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?

DN: We need to change the pervasive concept that so many adults, including some of our own artist/musicians and most educational leaders, have: that high level music experiences are just for those who are especially gifted and talented, or have an ingrained personal desire for it. Music is no different then math: some people figure it out more easily and quickly then others, but EVERYONE has the ability to be musically expressive in some way, and our educational institutions need to make it a priority for all students through college. This will eventually transform all adults into much more collegial, connected, expressive, sensitive, empathetic human beings whose lives will be enhanced and transformed via intimate involvement with the beauty of the arts. RI started down a great path back in the early 2000s, when we “mandated” that all students needed to demonstrate proficiency in one of the arts in order to graduate. We need to revisit that and make it authentic again for all students.