How to Find Our Program Blogs

We’ve set our Studio Rhode Westerly blog up so that each of our programs have their own category (which creates a separate section.) These program-specific posts do not appear on this page, which is our collection of blog posts that touch on the project as a whole. To find blog posts about each individual program, you can select a program from the drop-down menu that will appear if you hover over “Programs,” or you can follow the links here:

Animation Nation

Fiber Arts


Tell Your Story: The Westerly Oral History Project

WAM! Westerly Arts & Media

We hope you enjoy learning more about the individual programs!

If our project has got you thinking about innovative ideas for your library, don’t miss your chance to participate in Studio Rhode: Next Generation Library Challenge Phase II. Check out the RI Office of Innovation’s website for information on applying for this amazing grant!



Artist Versus Creator

Would you consider yourself an artist? Would you consider yourself a creator?

Our original plan for the Studio Rhode Westerly project was to prove that everyone is an artist. We wanted to connect artists with the community and bring out everyone’s inner artist. Instead, we learned that a lot of people don’t like to use the “artist” label, even people who create art in traditional ways.

We’ve noticed that some people we would consider artists didn’t want to be featured as an Artist of Westerly because they were just starting out or weren’t a professional artist. Despite our efforts to spread the idea that anyone can be an artist, even by creating art in every day activities like cooking, a lot of creative people were hesitant to use the label. Art comes with a lot of expectations and ideals, which our latest Artist of Westerly John Patsfield noted in his profile:

“I have had a very hard time calling myself an artist. I see that label attached to some of the most wonderfully talented people that have ever graced our little blue planet – I see the care and the heart that they poured into their work – I see the effortless way that they just whip out a sketch that is lightyears beyond the skill and beauty that I can create. I see how their art has endured and traveled through time and national borders and human pettiness to bring light into the darkest places….. And that label – that moniker – that lofty ideal of “Artist” is so far beyond what I can truly call myself. I see them as divine – having touched the essence of creation – Messengers that shared a glimpse of the greatness and vastness of pure inspiration…… I struggle to see where such a term could ever apply to me –  to my work – to my processes. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t correct people if they choose to use it – I don’t argue or attempt to explain why I feel like the word is so much larger than I am….. I just blush a bit, and say thank you.”
We’d like to note that John Patsfield is definitely talented enough to be considered an artist, as are the artists who have turned us down for a profile.
While we still believe that everyone can be an artist, we’ve been playing with the idea of changing our whole project to be about creating. Our projects so far all focus on creating: creating a stop-motion animated film; creating a collection of oral histories; creating something knitted, crocheted, or needle felted; creating an online presence; and, of course, creating works of art. Creating also fits with our improved Wilcox Boiler Room, which is full of technology for creating things, including a 3D printer, a sewing machine, recording equipment, and more. Even the iPads we use as part of this grant are capable of creating a lot that may not be considered art.
So maybe we can reach more people by focusing on being a creator rather than an artist. The project has grown and evolved in ways that we didn’t expect when it was all just a plan on paper. Perhaps now we can make changes to better serve our community (and creators.)

Up and Running!

Studio Rhode Westerly is up and running, with programs like Animation Nation and fibre arts already on the go and WAM! and Tell Your Story about to begin. We’ve been blogging our progress on the respective Program categories but here is a quick update on each of the programs. Don’t forget to check out the individual programs’ blog posts using the links above or go to the “Programs” drop-down menu on the top right of this page.

Animation Nation, a summer program with different sessions for tweens and teens, is about to wrap up its weekly meetings. Participants have recorded stop-motion animation footage, which will be turned into a short film that will be debuted right before Halloween on October 25th. The theme of this year’s Animation Nation was “Build a Better Monster,” so the timing is fitting, and will give staff time to edit the footage into a cohesive film.

Our fiber arts programming started long before Studio Rhode (with a dedicated Knit and Crochet Club meeting every Tuesday, plus needle felting workshops) but we’ve had new features available to our yarn crafters and fiber artists. We’ve been adding technology to fiber arts recently, starting with documenting Knit in Public Day with photos taken on an iPad. Since then, we’ve had iPads available at most Knit and Crochet Club sessions so that members can look up techniques. We will be kicking off workshops that bring technology and fiber arts together on September 6th with our Ravelry Workshop.

The next program to launch is Tell Your Story, our oral history project, which will have an information meeting on August 29th. Leading up to it, we have been promoting it and talking it up with people who have attended events for our 125th anniversary, like the Treasures through Time gallery opening and Tours through Time.

Next in the pipeline is WAM! (Westerly Arts and Media.) We have been in contact with WRAP (Westerly Regional Arts Partnership) to invite their members to be profiled as part of our Artists of Westerly photo and interview series and to take part in our next Pop-Up Museum on September 27th. It’s not just professional artists invited to exhibit at this Pop-Up Museum – we believe everyone is an artist and we want to see all mediums of art from all skill levels. Promotion for it has started within the library but will ramp up soon as the date comes closer.

So check out each of the program’s individual blogs to find out more information and how you can get involved in this project. Remember, you are an artist!

The journey so far…

We are on the brink of being up and running! Equipment has arrived, plans have been made and there are minor tweaks to be made. Getting a grant of this caliber has been fun, exciting, stressful, and everything in between rolled all into one. Luckily, we have a great team, who will hopefully be blogging their experiences as well!

So, how did we get here? Well, the Governor of Rhode Island, Gina Raimondo, announced this initiative in late January. By February, we were workshopping our ideas and applying for phase one. This grant application process (through the Rhode Island Office of Innovation) was unlike any other grant process I’ve done. Instead of having applicants write pages upon pages, they wanted only 200 word answers, which is really difficult to do! Anyhow, by March we had finished phase two and were notified in April of being selected as the dual-winner (Woonsocket Harris Library is the other Studio Rhode host this summer)

Maybe now you’re thinking, what’s been the process? In Westerly, we have decided to focus on the arts. Under the Programs tab, you’ll find a much better description and information. Part of being a Studio Rhode library also means helping other libraries or organizations replicate the process, which is why I’m blogging now, to help give you a sense of the amount of time, supplies needed, and any other new and exciting thing I can think to blog about. We’ve all already learned so many things relating to technology, libraries, and really are starting to rethink the way we think. I know that sounds strange, but it’s a way to re-imagine what we can offer the community (and go in uncharted waters so to speak). We’re looking forward to the journey that continues and hope to see you at the library soon!