Listening for Echoes at Fort Adams

After months of preparation, the group exhibition I’ve been working on with my classmates, Fort Adams: Drawing Parallels, Listening for Echoes, finally opened on Saturday, December 5 in Newport, RI. The opening marked the end of Fort Adams: Site Installation, an interdisciplinary course co-taught this fall by Sculpture Critic Chris Sancomb 93 SC and Assistant Professor of Textiles Mary Anne Friel. It was an awesome opportunity to gain real-world experience in presenting site-specific work at a historical site.

Originally established in 1799 as a military base overlooking the entrance to Narragansett Bay, Fort Adams has been in a constant state of building and rebuilding and has served as a state park since 1955. We toured the site on multiple occasions with historian Steve Marino, who served as an important resource for almost all of the 15 projects in the show. 

I grew up in the Bahamas near a fort that never saw battle but stood as a reminder of colonial times, and my piece, You’re Welcome, references that era. I created a ceramic, sand and cement pineapple – the symbol of hospitality – and installed it where cannons once rested. I hoped to transform the energy of the fort to a welcoming one that encourages viewers to consider the true nature of hospitality.

Sculpture major Renee Yu Jin 18 SC also sought to create a peaceful space within the fort. In her luminous installation, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow (above), the sun hovers over a manicured lawn (donated by a local supporter) that muffles the sound of the viewer’s footsteps.

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Textiles major Minhee Kang 17 TX hung iridescent woven columns (above) that shimmered and waved in the breeze to remember the 12 soldiers who once lived in the barracks. And in I Desire You Would Remember the Ladies, named after a quote from a letter written by John Adams’ wife Abigail, Vanessa Nieto Romero 17 PRhonored the laundresses who worked at the fort with a performance piece involving bricks of handcrafted soap (see below). 

As Odette Blaisde 18 SC puts it, all of the projects we created attempt to “parse out not just the written truths of the fort, but also the psychic energy of the place, the forgotten lives of some of the people who lived there and the implications the space takes on in its current state.”

projects pictured in top photos: Land by Charlie Ehrenfried 18 SC and Malaika Temba 18 TXWe Are Temporary, Our Imprints Are Lasting by Maddy Riorda 17 SC

This blog post was originally published on the Rhode Island School of Design blog.

Anina Major