Time to Celebrate!
Saturday, April 15 | 1:30 - 3:30 pm 

As a raucous and thoughtful alternative to Tax Day, join us for an afternoon of organism appreciation, land acknowledgement, poetry by Marco McWilliams and Vatic Huumba, music by the Undertow Brass Band, and crafting in homage to the enduring horseshoe crab and their primordial friends. Join us at 2 pm in the Donald J. Farish Auditorium for a Suitcase Theater Holiday Proposal and 'Crabaoke' by Eli Nixon!
Bask in 450 million years of flora and fauna, built by the hands of hundreds of Modern Humans, currently nestled and dangling in PPL’s atrium staircase. This forever incomplete public sculpture project was led by Rhode Island artist Eli Nixon and shaped by all who participated. Eli and ‘the public’ transformed cardboard, newspaper, and other recyclables into 450 million years of organisms in an effort to grok (and make more visible) the vastness of horseshoe crab's time on Earth, as well as the relative recentness of human existence. 

Meet author and artist Eli Nixon. From April 2022 - January 2023, Eli worked with participants (ages 9 weeks to 83 years) to sculpt and paper mache almost 100 lifeforms, through an asynchronous yet collaborative process, in which each organism was created by multiple people. Both the process and the product attempt to decentralize colonized notions of time and ownership, upset linearity, revel in impossibility, and reckon with our enmeshment with the more-than-human world. The organisms that evolved to be included in the timeline were chosen by the people who came to the workshops, supported by pictorial references harvested from PPL collections, and completed (sometimes morphing into new forms) by whoever came to the workshops next.
This project is part of activating Eli's illustrated proposal for a new holiday in homage to horseshoe crabs, BLOODTIDE, which is available for check-out at the Library. Eli offers Bloodtide as an open source, use-it-when-you-need-it holiday about cultivating awe and generating ‘free time’ (AKA time to get free), toward healing sites of environmental and cultural harm. Eli sees Bloodtide as part of the work of dismantling and building culture. Instead of Hallmark, CVS, and government officials telling us what to celebrate, we can nurture the impulse to gather, to grieve, build, and play together, around a 450-million-year-old beast and what they teach us about duration, immunity, and interconnection. 

Eli describes Bloodtide as occurring currently and continuously in the Library, whether patrons realize they are celebrating or not- the way people pause upon entering the Library now, upon needing to pass a weasel and circle an ostrich on the way to the Info Services desk, needing to share public space/time with our more-than-human neighbors. Eli hopes this holiday, as activated by this installation, unsettles us – an insufficient 3D land acknowledgement recognizing that the timeline and the Library sit on the ancestral homelands of the Narragansett, Pokanoket and Nipmuc people, that all of us are preceded by the actions of ancestors. This effort attempts to strengthen relation to the last 450 million years and the last 500 at the same time, to puncture ‘The Man’s’ gaze of time starting when (some) humans got here- to instead provide intergenerational opportunities to connect with each other, our vast shared past and differing points of connection to more recent survival and repair efforts.

Project Status -- Channel 10 came to document the installation of the whale. A mobile of Modern Humans is still to be installed, but given how long after most flora and fauna evolved, it’s fitting that the humans are the last organisms to be in the mix. More signage (including the names of the 250+ participants who lent their hands to the effort) will also be installed this spring. 

Thanks! -- Eli worked with participants from the general public who would drop in at PPL for organism building sessions, as well as through workshops with the following groups:

URI’s Dr. Pat Feinstein Child Development Center, New England Estuarine Research Society, PVD Young Makers, New Urban Arts, Movement Education Outdoors, Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club, Sojourner House Camp, and The MET School.

In addition to thanking PPL for welcoming this absurd and necessary endeavor to hatch and grow within their walls, Eli acknowledges the City of Providence Dept. of Art, Culture + Tourism for project funds, and First Works for workshop support. 

So far, the 450-million-year-timeline effort has activated collaboration and dialogue with PPL staff across all departments, inspired dozens of teens to get library cards, provided respite and duct tape for houseless library patrons, provoked jovial debate amongst local ecologists and historians, distracted bookworms with 3D delights, engaged ongoing navigation of trans/queer visibility and safety in public (complicated by mask dynamic), and made creative space for all those looking to activate intergenerational relationship around interlocking climate and racial justice provocations by hanging out and mushing newspaper into a squid or an ant, while finding oneself a part of human community. 

Now, it's time to celebrate this ongoing community accomplishment! Join Us!