Letter: Three finalists chosen for Port Marker design

Posted 9/28/23

All three are now charged with returning with polished proposals for the Memorial sculpture with drawings, a budget of costs, and a 3D model, each receiving an honorarium of $1,000 to support their time and further creative work.

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Letter: Three finalists chosen for Port Marker design

Posted

To the editor:

The Bristol Middle Passage Port Marker Project has made every effort to be open and transparent, and most especially seek the involvement of our community as we move forward in developing and installing a permanent Memorial at Independence Park. With this in mind, the Board would like to provide an update about the process.

We, the Board of BMP, put out a public Call for Artists’ proposals for an appropriate design to Rhode Island based artists over a two-month period and received some very strong applications. All proposals received were then reviewed by an independent panel of jurors in mid-September. These well-qualified jurors were: Keith Stokes, noted historian-scholar; Len Cabral, storyteller and folk artist; Simona Simpson Thomas, an educator; Sachem Tracey Dancing Star of the Pokanoket Nation, and Conor Moynihan, a curator at the RISD Museum.

The Jurors were charged with choosing three final artists based upon their proposed ideas and the merit of previous artworks. The chosen artists are: Spencer Evans, a painter-sculptor of African ancestry teaching at RISD; Deborah Spears Moorehead, a well-known Indigenous artist; and Deborah Baronas, an accomplished Warren-based multi-media artist.

All three are now charged with returning with polished proposals for the Memorial sculpture with drawings, a budget of costs, and a 3D model, each receiving an honorarium of $1,000 to support their time and further creative work. This is due prior to Thanksgiving. The Board of the BMP has arranged to display the models at our Rogers Free Library for the month of December, inviting and encouraging everyone to see and submit written comments.

All public commentary will be incorporated into the final selection of the artist to then proceed and polish a final design. This artist will receive an honorarium of $3,000, while also presenting a firm budget to work with the BMP along the regulatory process involving State and local agencies. It is anticipated that the chosen artist will make a final presentation at a Town Council meeting soon after the design is selected, likely in January.

This Memorial is a community project that will be erected for Bristol residents and visitors alike to take in and learn from. It will be there for all of us in the present, but most importantly it will be there for future generations to learn from. The memorial will be supported with ongoing educational programming and events.

The Board of Bristol Middle Passage has embarked on an open, lengthy, and deliberate prudent process, by working with a range of professionals and advisors to establish a beautiful and lasting sculptured memorial. We citizens of Bristol and Rhode Island may take great pride in this major gesture of reconciliation and remembrance of times past, but most importantly to honor the times ahead as we strive to be an equitable learned society that welcomes all people as members of our community. The memorial will be a reaffirmation of this.

It takes all of us. Bristol Middle Passage welcomes your comments, input, and support of this community effort. Please help with a donation in any amount to BMP, Box 871 Bristol, 02809.

The Board of the Bristol Middle Passage Port Marker Project thanks you.

Stephan Brigidi
Highland Road
Chair, Design Committee-BMP

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