Molly Dickinson is an artist and arts administrator living and working out of Middletown, RI. Studying Illustration at RISD and theatrical painting at Yale School of Drama, she worked in theatre, opera and art conservation before settling back in Rhode Island. She has coordinated RISCA’s rotating public art exhibits at TF Green & Block Island Airports for the last 5 years, work she has just left in order to manage a new project at the Jamestown Arts Center.
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?
MKD: I love that the state is small enough that you can run into people you know really anywhere. The art scene is dynamic and happening, yet people are helpful and friendly rather than competitive. We moved to Rhode Island from the New York metropolitan area and really noticed the friendlier, less stressful way of life.
RISCA: What are you the most excited about right now in your art practice/work as an arts and culture administrator?
MKD: I’m always excited about the upcoming airport exhibits- each year there is a terrific group of artists selected by the jury. That being said, in the upcoming year I am on leave from the GREEN SPACE Gallery in order to manage a new project for the JAC, an exhibition of 3-D and installation artworks planned for summer 2020. I’m excited about this project for the JAC, in honor of their 10th anniversary- and the JAC is an amazing place worthy of celebration! I’m excited for artists working in 3-D or installation genres, as it’s an opportunity to exhibit here in Rhode Island. The state has few such projects or venues for 3-D artists, so this exhibition fills a gap. Professionally, I’m pleased to manage this project as it draws upon aspects of my previous work experience while presenting new problems to be solved. Personally, I just was awarded an itty-bitty fellowship through Getaway.com, so am definitely looking forward to a few uninterrupted days of drawing.
RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?
MKD: One thing? I’m stuck on three, those being: Affordable studio/work spaces in the Aquidneck & Conannicut island communities; Buyers for artwork; and Public school arts education. To elaborate, We live in Middletown on Aquidneck Island and so consider ourselves part of the greater Newport community. Conanicut & Aquidneck islands are incredibly beautiful, inspiring places for artists. Yet, they lack any kind of affordable studio rentals for artists. Cities like providence or Pawtucket have successfully repurposed their mill & manufacturing buildings into artist & small business workspaces. The islands communities lack this infrastructure, and real estate is very expensive. Rhode Island also lacks a robust market for artwork. This is a catch-22 because the modest lifestyle that is good for artists does not necessarily generate arts buyers- many rhode islanders lack the disposable income to buy artwork such you’d find in an area like Boston or New York. Artists find themselves marketing their work outside the state. Finally, I worry that our public schools don’t offer enough arts education. The emphasis seems to be all on jobs training. Music, theatre, visual arts develop our children’s critical thinking skills while also offering joy and respite.
RISCA: What is the biggest challenge for you in your art life?
MKD: Biggest challenge? Time! I frequently feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I’m supposed to be good at- make a living, keep house, raise kids, then somehow also make some artwork, market, photograph, frame, promote it, build a website, keep bookkeeping accounts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.