A desert landscape reminiscent of the Southwest. Hazy purple mountains on the horizon. A cloudless blue sky. A coyote, its head thrown back in full howl. And, most strangely, a giant message reading “Greetings from Rhode Island.” Say hello to the most recent creation by The Wheeler School as part of the Thayer Street Public Art Program in Providence, a mural with a mission.
As many might know, the coyote population is on the rise in Rhode Island as the animals make more and more frequent appearances in residential neighborhoods. “Our goal is to create a public display that will highlight the animal’s growing presence in our state through a juxtaposition of traditional views of the coyote from the Southwest (how most viewers might associate where coyotes live) with images from Rhode Island (where most viewers might not readily think of as a place where coyotes live),” explains Robert Martin, Chair of Visual Arts at Wheeler.
The mural’s design was based off a vintage postcard, and photography students in their Upper School Advanced Art Seminar combined several versions in Photoshop before students, alumni, and staff put paint to plaster. You’ll find the southwestern landscape dominate, but within the blocked letters, several familiar Ocean State landmarks appear, including the State House and Providence’s Superman building.
“[It’s a] collaged-intention of colliding two previously unrelated frameworks,” says Robert about the mural. “The southwestern landscape and the Ocean State, now united by the mutual habitation of the coyote and rendered large by the artful design of our students.”
Besides being thought-provoking, the mural also encourages education: a website address to CoyoteSmarts is included, which provides information on coyotes, public and pet safety, research and management, and related news.
And this might just be the first of many installments. Shares Executive Director of the Thayer Street District Management Authority Donna Personeus, “In the Wheeler School, we have found the perfect partner for our public art program.” 294 Thayer Street