The University of Rhode Island announced today that “artist, designer, developer, and thought leader Barnaby M. Evans. Evans, the founder and executive artistic director of WaterFire Providence, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at their 136th Undergraduate Commencement. World renowned ocean explorer and professor of oceanography Robert Ballard will deliver the keynote address from aboard his ship, the E/V Nautilus.”
The ceremony will be held Sunday, May 22, at 12:30 p.m. on the Quadrangle of the Kingston Campus.
Barnaby Evans created WaterFire in 1994 as part of an effort to rebrand and re-establish Providence as a destination. Using the city and its residents as part of his canvas, Evans designed WaterFire as a city-scale intervention that combines a design approach with aesthetics, land art, installation, site specific work, music, ritual and spectacle. In doing so he brought people together, creating a sense of community and providing a needed boost for the city’s just finished river relocation plan.
Since it began, WaterFire has been called the “crown jewel of the Providence Renaissance.” It has been a revenue generator and job creator. As a nonprofit arts organization, its mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience. The WaterFire Arts Center, established in 2017, helped transform a former brownfields site into a vibrant urban arts center, bringing art into the community and making it accessible to all.
“Barnaby Evans has shown us that art has the power to uplift and inspire. His WaterFire has been a catalyst in transforming our capital city, making it a cultural destination and serving as an economic driver for our state that has helped reinvigorate our communities,” said URI President Marc B. Parlange. “His work through the WaterFire Arts Center provides a showcase for Rhode Island and national artists and exposes local youth and school groups to the arts. His leadership and vision represent the very best of what we aim to instill in our students and it is an honor to welcome him to our campus and to bestow this degree.”
About the author
I've worked at WaterFire Providence since 2003. For the first 9 years of my career, I worked in the Production Shop learning all of the details that go into the physical production of the event. In 2012 transitioned to the role of managing WaterFire's social media and web presence. I now head up WaterFire Providence's digital projects including, web, social, databases, and our physical IT infrastructure.