Brown Arts Institute

Brown Arts Initiative and Providence Student Union Creatively Express Student Bill of Rights on Local Billboards

A collaboration between the Brown Arts Initiative, Providence Student Union, and artists Erik DeLuca, Jazzmen Lee-Johnson, and Umi Hsu highlights the Student Bill of Rights, which aims to secure a safe, healthy, and engaging school environment for all students.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) announces the installment of three youth-created billboards highlighting the Providence Student Union’s Student Bill of Rights. 

Beginning in early March 2021, Providence Student Union (PSU) members met virtually each week with project facilitators and artists, Erik DeLuca, Jazzmen Lee-Johnson, and Umi Hsu. During the ten-week workshop, PSU Youth artists experimented with design basics, strategies for creative collaboration, and storytelling techniques. These tools were paired with discussions about art’s relationship to social justice, equity, and the power of education.

The twelve PSU Youth Artists worked in groups to develop three billboards, each featuring articles from PSU’s Student Bill of Rights which aims to secure a safe, healthy, and engaging school environment for all students. The three billboards were installed in early May and can be found along I-195, Eddy Street, and Orms Street in Providence. 

The Eddy Street billboard can be seen north of Aldrich Street and features Article 19 from the Student Bill of Rights, Students have the right to free transportation. This design was led by Kylie Lopez with two additional youth artist collaborators. 

The Orms Street billboard can be seen across the street from the Rhode Island Department of Health. This billboard highlights Article 10, Students have the right to diverse teaching and learning methods and was led by Grace Doyle, Athena Holloway and an additional youth collaborator.

The I-195 billboard can be seen driving South from Providence near Black Street. This billboard features Article 5, Students have the right to express their identity and was created by Itamar Encarnacion, Melissa Lin, and Jaileen Vargas-Garcia.

On Friday, May 28, 3:30pm - 4:30pm the public is invited to stop by the Orms Street billboard by the RI Department of Health to meet the youth artists and learn more about the Student Bill of Rights. Participants will follow all current Rhode Island Department of Health COVID-19 safety protocols including masking, crowd control, and social distancing.

About Providence Student Union

Providence Student Union builds student power to improve our education and well-being. We envision a true “union for students” that increases young people’s collective power and ensures our frustrations, demands, and dreams are heard. At PSU, young people grow as leaders, organizers, and advocates for justice in all forms, today and throughout their lives. pvdstudentunion.org

About Brown Arts Initiative

The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) at Brown University seeks to cultivate creative expression and foster an interdisciplinary environment where faculty and students learn from one another and from artists and scholars in a wide range of fields across the campus and around the world. The BAI seeks to build on Brown’s reputation as a destination for arts exploration, contributing to cultural enterprise through the integration of theory, practice, and scholarship with an emphasis on innovation and discovery that results from rigorous artmaking and experimentation. arts.brown.edu.

Erik DeLuca is an artist and musician working with performance, sculpture, and text, in dialogue with social practice and critique. He received a PhD in Music from the University of Virginia (2016), was in Myanmar with the support of an Asian Cultural Council grant (2018), and lectured at the Iceland University of the Arts (2016-2018). He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Music and Multimedia at Brown University and Lecturer in Experimental and Foundation Studies at Rhode Island School of Design.

Jazzmen Lee-Johnson is a visual artist, scholar, composer, and curator. Her practice centers on the interplay of animation, printmaking, music, and dance, informed by a yearning to understand how our current circumstance is tethered to the trauma of the past. She received her BFA in Film, Animation, and Video at RISD, her MA in Public Humanities at Brown University, and a heavy dose of education working with youth in Baltimore, South Africa, and New York City. She is the 2020 Artist Fellow at the RISD Museum, creating work in response to the collection. She is always eager to radically reimagine the possibilities of the present by disturbing fixed notions of the past, and conjuring a future that might come to be.

W.F. Umi Hsu (pronouns: they/them) is a strategic designer and public humanist who engages with research and organizing agendas for equity in arts, technology, and civic life. Hsu is currently the Director of Content Strategy at the ONE Archives Foundation. 

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For more information, please contact Sophia LaCava-Bohanan, BAI Assistant Director for Programs at [email protected]