Salve students, FabLab youths breathe life into “Poetry of the Wild” exhibition

Salve Regina students recently welcomed their youth partners from FabNewport to campus to install exhibits at the McKillop Library as part of “Poetry of the Wild,” a community-based art and poetry project that will run at numerous public sites throughout the city and Aquidneck Island this summer. These and other installations are ongoing in preparation for the exhibition’s May 6 citywide opening.

Open to all members of the Salve Regina and Aquidneck Island communities, the Poetry of the Wild launch will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at the Redwood Library, located at 50 Bellevue Ave. in Newport. Participants will walk to various boxes in town and then meet at the University to open the boxes near the Cliff Walk.

The FabLab kids produced vinyl cutouts of poetry and a large bear that were stuck to the library’s windows, and they made wooden boxes to host poetry journals. A dozen first-year students in Dr. Jen McClanaghan’s Introduction to Creative Writing course wrote poems to place in the boxes and, after the installations were complete, went to each location to read their poems aloud.

Ana Flores, ecological artist, sculptor and founder of Poetry of the Wild, says the project connects people to the landscape by combining poetry, visual art and the natural world. It is supported by Salve Regina with help from additional community partners.

Flores – who runs Earth Inform Studio – has been bringing Poetry of the Wild to locations both public and wild for the last 12 years. Each installation features a box or sculpture, built by artists and community members using recycled materials, that contains an original or classic poem as well as a journal for passersby to contribute reflections of their own. Each unique site reflects the spirit of each place.

“We’ve done this all over the country – urban, rural, universities and many, many other partnerships,” Flores said. “I think it’s going to present a Newport that people don’t think is Newport. Everyone has their own little Newport they know, and the tourists know a certain Newport. This is a very diverse Newport and this allows other voices to be heard.”

McClanaghan, assistant professor in the Department of English and Communications and writer-in-residence, and her class took on a leading role in organizing Poetry of the Wild in Newport, engaging with Flores and local artists to encourage submissions.

“Poetry of the Wild’s focus is art, the environment and community,” McClanaghan said. “This project joins other great work Salve faculty and staff are doing, putting our mission and our critical concerns into action, and it also brings together a diversity of community members. We are creating a bridge between many homes, and what better way to do it than with an open invitation to make art and poetry together, which seems more important than ever. I hope the relationships we’ve built through Poetry of the Wild will inform new projects each year.”

Installations will be featured at more than a dozen sites throughout the city, including Eisenhower Park, Redwood Library, Aquidneck Land Trust, FabLab, the Met School, Community Garden at Quaker Meeting House, the Cliff Walk, Ballard Park, the Salve Regina campus and more.

The University’s engagement in Poetry of the Wild is another example of the type of community collaborations being spearheaded by Salve Regina faculty as part of a $173,800 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to intentionally infuse community engagement and civic learning into the curriculum.

The courses developed by faculty in each of the three years of the grant are built around a significant project developed in conjunction with partners that will fulfill a demonstrated community need and allow students to apply concepts and skills they learn in class. Regardless of discipline, students will be engaging with literature, practice, and reflection on justice, fairness, and social change in relation to their subject matter and their community project.

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1 comment

  1. Gianna says:

    This is a beautiful project with so many interesting components. The array of visual and poetic statements along with the community engagement opportunities make the Poetry of the Wild project unique. We’re fortunate to have it in Newport.
    Would someone post exactly where the boxes are on campus, or nearby campus? Thanks!

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