Renowned RI Stone Sculptor Nick Benson to Create Unique Art Installation at Farm Fresh RI
Providence, Rhode Island – Farm Fresh RI invites the public to watch acclaimed stone sculptor Nicholas Benson of Newport create a unique art installation for Farm Fresh’s new headquarters at 10 Sims Avenue in the Valley of Providence neighborhood. This public event will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday May 20, 21 and 22 from 11from morning to 1 p.m. daily on the Farm Fresh Terrace, which runs along Kinsley Avenue and the Woonasquatucket River. Family program, the outdoor event will follow the rules of social distancing and masking. Free parking is available next to the site. Farm Fresh will be on hand to explain the project. On Saturday, May 22, the event will coincide with Farm Fresh’s year-round farmer’s market, Sims Market, which runs from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. weekly.
“We are honored to provide a home for the masterful work of Nick Benson,” said Sheri Griffin, Co-Managing Director of Farm Fresh. “With this facility, we will be celebrating the culmination of years of redeveloping the site where our hub for food and local farms is now located, while also retrieving physical pieces of Rhode Island history and incorporating them into one. contemporary sculpture so that the community can discover them ”
Nick Benson is the third generation in a family of stone carvers whose exceptional work is a hallmark of some of the country’s best-known landmarks. Their architectural and commemorative lettering is generated by hand with a wide-brimmed brush in the style of classical Roman inscriptions, then carved into stone with mallets and chisels. Benson’s grandfather did the lettering for the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. His father inscribed the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Washington, DC. Benson himself wrote the WWII Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC as well as the Louis I. Kahn inscriptions, Four Freedoms Park in New York. More recently, he and his team inscribed the quotes at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial near the National Mall. The family-owned stone carving business, the John Stevens Shop in Newport, (johnstevensshop.com) which Benson’s grandfather acquired in 1927, was founded in 1705 and is one of the oldest continuously operating businesses from the country.
Over the past decade, Benson, who in 2010 was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship – often referred to as the “Engineering Fellowship” – has pursued a new artistic endeavor. He applies his skills in stone carving and calligraphic design to capture digital language, transforming something that can only last a few seconds into something permanent. The installation at Farm Fresh will be the first public artwork created to symbolize what Benson sees as the growing gap between the way humans have interacted with the physical world over the past 100,000 years and our new perspective of a world that exists entirely. in the digital domain. Nick uses his proven and highly refined calligraphy skills and experience to carve Base 64 code – something that is here today and probably vanished in a few days – out of very old marble in a facility designed for perpetuity. The “words” that are embedded in the code – HISTORY, COMMUNITY, SUSTAINABILITY – were agreed in advance by Nick and Farm Fresh. The Farm Fresh installation is the first public work created by Nick Benson in his contemplation of communication in the information age.
The art installation, commissioned by an anonymous Farm Fresh supporter, is the end result of an unexpected discovery. Two years ago, as contractors began cleaning up the Sims Avenue industrial site that Farm Fresh had acquired for its new headquarters, they discovered the land was filled with chunks of marble, ranging from massive boulders to small ones. parts. Research has revealed that at the turn of the century, during the construction of the RI State House, the Norcross Construction Company purchased the Sims Avenue site to receive and cut Georgia marble for the capital’s new building.
Determined to save and reuse these pieces of Rhode Island history, Farm Fresh asked their contractors to put aside the large blocks of marble and recruit volunteers to collect the smaller pieces. The two most beautiful large blocks were reserved for Benson’s art installation. Other large pieces of marble serve as landscaping elements, some engraved in honor of individuals and entities. And, in the fall, Farm Fresh will hold a public sale of the salvaged coins for those who would like to purchase their own piece of Rhode Island history.
About Farm Fresh Rhode Island
Farm Fresh Rhode Island is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2004. The organization’s mission is to develop a local food system that values the environment, health, and quality of life for local farmers and eaters. Both incubator and activator, Farm Fresh offers a wide range of access, education and distribution programs aimed at building healthier communities, improving access to fresh food, strengthening community businesses and improving the impact of food production and distribution on the environment. For more information, please visit www.farmfreshri.org.