Bob Dilworth is a mixed-media artist living in Providence and Professor of Art at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. In addition to teaching painting, drawing, design, and African American Art History, he is also Director of Africana Studies. His current works on canvas, paper and textiles tackle issues of race, culture, ethnicity, family, heritage, and ancestry through metaphor and allegory as observed and portrayed through household prints and patterns. They employ an aesthetic gesture toward moments in history that run parallel to current times, often intersecting and exploring hidden and deeper meanings of his experience as an African American.
We asked him a few questions about his life and art-making in Rhode Island for our 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.
BD: Home neglect is the biggest issue these days. Because the entire house is now a working studio I’ve given up on keeping it clean. Maintenance centers on moving art material from one room to another. My vacuum cleaner has dust allergies, my broom has cobwebs and my dustpan eloped with a strange utensil that I’d been keeping under the kitchen sink.
RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?
BD: RI is the most go-to place on the east coast. Except for when you want a real NY hotdog.
RISCA: What is one thing, personal or professional, that you want to accomplish in the next year?
BD: A small voice in my head says, “Acquire lots of money, a big house by the Atlantic ocean, and plenty of rich friends who are not familiar with the word NO.” But a louder voice screams, “Don’t say that!!!”
RISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?
BD: I do what I do because insanity, that often presents itself as an avant-garde Gertrude Stein wearing pink trousers and yellow ballet shoes, is the only alternative. Staying sane inspires me. I’m driven by having an anxiety-free life. I create because life is short and I still have so many more trousers and ballet shoes to make.
RISCA: What Rhode Island artists and/or arts organizations most inspire you and why?
BD: I’m inspired by anyone who likes sugar, shoes, soap, beer, fried foods and broccoli. I’m inspired by organizations that promote good posture and defend the rights of guinea pigs.