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Providence murals; why they matter

Isabella Santoro

Anchor Staff Writer

Image via Isabella Santoro

What we see around us can really capture our eye. The artwork on buildings around the capital city of Providence is no different. Each piece I looked at and took photographs of were captivating and intriguing, as I am sure they were meant to be. Providence has a myriad of different murals. There are so many beautiful murals painted around this diverse New England city. All of these pieces shown above hold an enormous amount of weight and value as they display such issues involving LGBTQ+ rights, BLM protests and police brutality, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Indigenous peoples and other people of color.

The reason why these murals are so important is because they are so diverse. They show so many different creative minds at play, displayed so largely on sides of buildings downtown. They should be rather hard to miss, and yet we still miss them at times.

By far the largest mural in Providence is entitled “Still Here” by a Baltimore artist named Gaia. This mural shows a Narragansett woman named Lynsea Montanari, who holds a picture of Princess Red Wing. Seeing this mural brings a lot of pride for my home state in that it is so hugely displayed. We need more paintings just like this one that show Indigenous women celebrated with beauty and grace. It is even better that it depicts a Narragansett woman because this tribe is so local to Rhode Island that we have a town named after it. While this tribe might not be as talked about as, say, Cherokee Indians, they are still very much an important part of our society and our culture. By displaying Lynsea so boldly, Providence shows that we still need to care for our Indigenous women and Indigenous tribes around Rhode Island, and even around the whole country. They are not invisible as they are so often made to be, and this beautiful piece shows just that. People need to see it.

An important myriad of murals here depicts the LGBTQ+ community, which is thriving in this mid-sized city. We can always expand upon the way in which we include people and these murals give a major voice to LGBTQ+ individuals. These pieces on display show that we accept you here. No matter what shape, size, color or sexuality you come in, you are accepted. This city provides beautiful examples of the acceptance we need to gear towards and so being able to see them is super important.

These murals show people of color in some of the most encouraging and positive ways I have seen yet. One of them displays the same black musical artists in such an old school retro way that is so well hidden you might almost never even see it. It is a beautiful reminder to people that black artists need to and should be as celebrated as they are in the mural I saw last Sunday. It also can inspire young black individuals to pursue their dreams of becoming singers. It is so important to showcase black individuals and other people of color around our city and other cities for so many reasons. For one, it shows us that they are a vibrant and vital part of our society. In a time of racial turmoil, it is even more vital for us to showcase them. In fact, I saw one mural depicting BLM protests and black healthcare workers in the midst of a deadly pandemic. It was an extremely powerful piece that I could not stop admiring and thinking about.

Above anything else, all of the murals I saw deserve recognition. This is exactly why putting the word out there that they exist is the most important thing to take away. If we ignore these wonderful pieces, they will never get the deeper analysis they deserve.


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