In September of 2022, WaterFire kicked off the second cohort of WaterFire Accelerate; our professional development program for artists under 30. Since the start of cohort two, our Accelerate artists have done everything from attending artist talks to talking to professional artists about their artistic practices, to honoring Dr. Joseph Chazan at FireBall, to organizing a pop-up for Three Nights of Lights at the Graduate Studio, to now doing a pop-up gallery at UNFI Cafe PVD. The list goes on and on and their success continues to flourish within this program.
After a 3 month long search, WaterFire finally announced Denzel Amoah, Justin DeGraide, Savaree “Sav” Hazard-Chaney, Hannah Nahas, Rhue Nobre, and Elijah Trice as the latest cohort and we had our first meeting at the WaterFire Arts Center on September 29, 2022.
October became a packed month for the cohort, especially in the beginning of the program, with the first speaker of the year Joanna Read and the artist attending WaterFire’s 6th Annual FireBall Gala honoring Dr. Joseph Chazan.
To showcase the space and officially hand over the keys, WaterFire canceled their November meeting and instead invited everyone to the studio for the first time. The cohort members were impressed by the space and excited to get to work, some even mentioned moving in right after the meeting was finished! On top of presenting the space, we challenged the group to activate the studio during the Three Nights of Lights event series on December 1, 2, and 3, 2022, and offer either open studio hours or a workshop for The Graduate’s guests and visitors in Providence.
The cohort took on the challenge with enthusiasm and creativity, using the space to showcase their work and engage with visitors. Once December came they really rose to the occasion and worked with the WaterFire team to decorate the windows with branding, and were able to have the studio open for all three evenings. The activation was a huge success, thanks in no small part to the beautiful and welcoming space provided by The Graduate Hotel and Scott Williams!
In January, WaterFire announced a partnership between ourselves and Innovation Studio Inc./ Biz Bodega. Accelerate cohort members are able to utilize several of Innovation Studio’s programs during their 12 months with WaterFire, including one-on-one business consultations through their Entrepreneurship Navigation program and early acceptance into their startup programs Inspire, Create, and Share.
Walther Morales Rios and Cynthia Munrayos from Innovation Studio and Biz Bodega joined us for our January meeting where Walther led a thought-provoking discussion on entrepreneurship, urging our creatives to think of themselves as businesspeople. The cohort members eagerly shared their perspectives on running their own businesses and their aspirations for the future. It was an inspiring and motivating conversation, leaving everyone feeling energized and excited for what’s to come.
For the month of February, we had the pleasure of meeting Jordan Seaberry, a talented artist, and dedicated activist. Jordan spoke to us about his journey as an artist, sharing insights into his creative process, his body of work, and his artist statement and values. We were impressed by Jordan’s passion for his craft and his commitment to using his art to effect positive change in the world. During the meeting, Jordan also shared his experiences working with galleries. He provided valuable advice and tips for aspiring artists, emphasizing the importance of building strong relationships with gallery owners and curators and staying true to one’s artistic vision and values. His insights were particularly valuable to those of us who are new to the art world and looking to establish ourselves as artists.
March became a busy month for the cohort as they met with Michael Rose of the Providence Art Club + Michael Rose Project Space in addition to also having their work displayed at the UNFI Cafe PVD.
One Gun Gone, is a multidisciplinary anti-gun violence public art project. The cohort met with Scott at his home studio to talk about his journey of finding his way back into the arts and how it led him into an unexpected role within his community as an educator and mentor. The cohort even got to help him prepare one of his works for the upcoming One Gun Gone exhibition at the WaterFire Arts Center, Merge, by lighting it on fire!
Merge, a One Gun Gone Exhibition opens at the WaterFire Arts Center on Thursday, May 4.
There’s much to look forward to from our Accelerate Artists as we approach the final stretch of the 2nd cohort. The Accelerate artists will continue their guest speaker series with three more artists on their lineup. They have opportunities to showcase their talents through vending and markets both at the WaterFire Arts Center and during the Downtown Lighting season. Each artist has brought their own unique perspective and talents into the program and we are eagerly waiting with anticipation for their culmination Exhibition that will happen June 1st, 2023.