Woonsocket, RI, November 11, 2022— Running from Market Square to City Hall, the sights and sounds of the mighty Blackstone River splay across Main Street Woonsocket thanks to the work of teen digital media artists at Riverzedge Arts.
Supported by Grants for Arts Projects funding awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) early this year, teens from the nonprofit organization’s Arts Education and Training (AET) program conducted months-long audiovisual documentation of the Blackstone River that is now being projected across Woonsocket’s downtown urban landscape. Large-scale images along the walls and alcoves of the Main Street corridor meet audio and video projections of the river’s seasonal changes and moods, reconnecting the heart of the city to the natural environment that has shaped its industrial history.
Studio Director Kailey Coppens, who oversaw the project, said the nearly year-long endeavor was also a crucial experience for young artists learning the mechanics of visual storytelling. “I wanted the youth to make their own authentic choices about what images to capture and how they should be curated. They had to develop technical skills from operating equipment to composing a shot, but the visual narrative depicted in this project is entirely their own.”
And Executive Director Kristen Williams is excited to share that narrative with the rest of the community. “We’ve been so honored to work with the City and Mayor Baldelli-Hunt to help bring the Blackstone back into residents’ imaginations,” said Williams. “We hope the installation is something everyone can enjoy and a real jumpstart to Main Street’s potential as an ecotourism and cultural hub.”
The installation’s grand opening on November 11th is generously hosted by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley at Millrace Patio. Part of the Millrace Music Series, the opening reception is free and open to the public from 5:30pm-8:00pm. Featuring music by award-winning R&B singer-songwriter Lisa Bello, the reception also gives visitors a chance to learn more about the mission of “The Blackstone Meets Main Street” and hear about the process from the teen artists participating in the project.
“Being able to photograph the Blackstone River over the course of a year at so many locations—some of them I didn’t even know existed—is really inspiring because it gives me a whole new perspective on the river,” said Aria C. (16).