“Call & Response” Artist Talk: Becci Davis, Jill Colinan & Holly Gaboriault

November 11, 2020 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Welcome to the second in our series of “Call & Response” conversations with Senior Curator Francine Weiss and exhibiting artists. Glimpse the Museum’s permanent collection through the fresh eyes of regional artists working in an array of media, and learn more about their selections and evocative responses.

This talk will feature artists Becci Davis, Jill Colinan and Holly Gaboriault. Davis’ original work is a luscious and painterly response to the work of the late artist Donna Bruton’s intimate Interior 1 collage painting. Colinan’s complex and disturbingly beautiful sewn portrait responds to the figure in Poolside,  one of contemporary photographer Lissa Rivera’s intimate portraits in the Beautiful Boy series, and Gaboriault’s printed, cut and pieced work is both sculpture and ornament made in response to a carved wooden puzzle sculpture titled Lovenest by the late Hugh Townley.  Join us for a engaging conversation that explores a broad cross section of mediums and artistic visions.

Talk will be delivered Live on Zoom, and link will be sent directly to registrants.

Members Free
General Admission $10

About the Artists

Becci Davis

Becci Davis was born on a military installation in Georgia named after General Henry L. Benning of the Confederate States Army. Her birth initiated her family’s first generation after the Civil Rights Act and its fifth generation post-Emancipation. Becci is a Rhode Island-based interdisciplinary artist who finds inspiration in exploring natural and cultural landscapes, as well as, her experiences as a daughter, mother, American, and Southern born and raised, Black woman. 

After earning her MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design in 2017, Becci was the recipient of the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Visual Art, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship in New Genres, the Providence Public Library Creative Fellowship, and the RISD Museum Artist Fellowship. She was also featured as one of Art New England magazine’s 10 Emerging Artists of 2019.


Holly Gaboriault

In the grip of this global pandemic, many of us grapple with flashes of anxiety, panic, and fear which can often replace creativity with paralysis for the unknown. This work is a reflection of creating within a difficult time producing documentation of collaged moments in thread. Working with material histories and objects that fragment and compartmentalize, I selected Hugh Townley’s “Love Nest” with his preferred method of carving fractals and hiding invented iconographic vocabulary. His title additionally allowed me to consider the concept of what constitutes a nest, or nesting, as our homes and studios abruptly became nests into which we have retreated during this time.

Reflecting the fragmentation of life that I have felt this year, matching the unknown with a desire to work with these new materials for the first time. Studying designers who combined graphic abstraction into a vocabulary of accessories and clothing, such as Elizabeth Hawes and Stephen Burrows, my experimentations with faux leather geometric shapes became interchangeable prototypes for the body. I tossed aside predetermined planning and began collaging, draping, pinning, and sewing leather on the dress forms allowing the pieces to become what they wanted to be.

Encapsulating the inspiration for his work, Townley once referred to a poem written by Kalidasa Sakunta (translated from Sanskrit by WS Merwin) as “saying something more about me and the mode in which I live and work”. An accurate fit for our current times.

Even the man who is happy
glimpses something
or a hair of sound touches him
and his heart overflows with a longing
he does not recognize
then it must be that he’s remembering
in a place out of reach
shapes he has loved
in a life before this
the print of them still there in him waiting.

Holly Gaboriault is a narrative designer, writer, and documentarian working within archives, institutions, and communities connecting people, places and ideas otherwise unseen. Holding a BFA in Illustration from RISD, storytelling is a vital thematic element in her work spanning design, art direction, curation, documentary film, and interdisciplinary production. Using interchangeable forms of collaborations and conversations, her work explores multivocality and layers of process through history, design, and cultural narratives. Recent projects include a documentary film series featuring arts and culture in Rhode Island, a fashion anthropology series documenting fashion designers of the 1960s, the Peeling Patterns textile design series, and ongoing research working in several costume and textiles museum collections.

Currently working on her MA thesis in the inaugural RISD Liberal Arts Global Arts and Cultures program, Holly’s ongoing research explores design methodologies, decolonizing research, and absence. She is a 2020 Maharam STEAM Fellow, the current research assistant to the newly appointed RISD Director of Research, and a 2020 Pedagogical Innovation Research Fellow. She lives in Providence with one human and her two cats, Coco Mango and Diego.


Jill Colinan

I was drawn to Lissa Rivera’s Poolside, Family Home initially because of the three blocks of color and patterned brick element in the photograph. It felt like a textile to me. I envisioned being driven by this. As I started working on my piece though, I began to focus more on how the model relates to my artwork. I always hope to convey that my figures have an implied narrative that you can feel when you look at them. You may not understand it, but you feel it. This is the exact vibe I got when looking at Lissa Rivera’s work. There is a warmth, mystery, and glamour in his face that is absolutely compelling. It has been a treat to study it.

Jill Colinan was born in Central Falls, RI and graduated from the University of Rhode Island. She is inspired by the desire to save each and every forgotten object she finds digging through piles at flea markets and uses them to make charming people that stare back at you. She currently lives in Providence, RI.

This talk is one of five upcoming events featuring the exhibiting artists from "Call & Response."