New mural pays tribute to Narragansett tribe in downtown Providence

New mural pays tribute to Narragansett tribe in downtown Providence. (WJAR)

A striking and very visible public art mural is almost finished in downtown Providence. It's on the side of a building that had been the target for graffiti in the past.

The finishing touches are being painted on the new artwork, a hundred thousand dollar literal wall-to-wall depiction of Lynsea, a 22-year-old current Narragansett Tribe member holding a picture of Princess Red Wing, who died in 1987, an indigenous activist, both affiliated with the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, dedicated to preserving and teaching about native cultures in Southern New England.

Gaia, an international itinerant street artist, was commissioned by the owners of 32 Custom House Street, the former 1875 J.G. Eddy and Company, through the Avenue Concept Mural Program.

“I wanted to think that the core concept was all about erasure, and whose history is preserved,” says Giai, an international street artist, commissioned by the owners of 32 Custom House Street, the former 1875 J.G. Eddy and Company building, through the Avenue Concept Mural Program. “It is extremely rewarding to have been trusted and then be able to execute on this scale such a concept.”

He researched then composed a half-dozen mock-ups, this one chosen by the building owners. An LCD projection was then traced by him and his team, now painting 'til completion.

Gaia says he hopes people will be drawn first into the mural's beauty. But secondly, he hopes that it will get them to think.

“I hope that it maybe makes people of European descent consider how their families got here, and how they benefited from white supremacy. I hope it makes First Nation peoples feel welcome and present,” says Giai, fighting a seabreeze as he paints from a forklift contraption shaded with tarp.

Back in 2015, the "Lonely Tagger" used this and other buildings to express himself, but was fined $12,000 for his efforts. Gaia started his passion the same way. “Somethings just need to be said in some place, and someone has to do that,” says Giai.

A sight to behold, from up-close or across the river, expected to be completed this weekend, weather permitting.


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