RIC President Honored and RIC Artist Special Guest at Fleur de Lys Studio

Left: Fleur de Lys Studio. Right: “Fleur de Lys in Snow,” a painting by Anthony Tomaselli ’76.

Left: Fleur de Lys Studio. Right: “Fleur de Lys in Snow,” a painting by Anthony Tomaselli ’76.


Every third Thursday of the month, Rhode Islanders stroll along the sidewalks or take art buses that deposit them at Providence galleries, museums, studios and historic sites for Gallery Night Providence. Noted painter Anthony Tomaselli, a 1976 RIC graduate, opened his Fleur de Lys Studio, part of the Providence Art Club, to the public during April 17th’s Gallery Night. His special guests were RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, who he honored for her advocacy of the arts, and RIC senior Emily Sorlien, a painter whose compelling works were on view for the evening.

Emily Sorlien ’14

Along with her intaglio prints, woodcuts, lithographs, drawings and digital images, Sorlien exhibited a disarming series of still lifes that depict bound and slaughtered chickens. This series, she said, which began as an honors project at RIC, stems from her deep roots in the rural province of South Kingstown and reveals certain profound truths about man’s inhumanity. The first in the series, “Deposition,” took top prize in painting at the Newport Art Museum’s Annual Members Juried Show last year. In her artist’s statement she writes:

“Today, thanks to the rise of the factory farm, chicken is now the most widely consumed animal on the planet with over 8 billion chickens slaughtered annually for human consumption. I am interested in the way in which chickens can simultaneously be viewed as animal ‘other’ and as anthropomorphically human. I offer up death to the viewer as a perverse sort of gift, like a cat who brings home a dead bird to its owner. However, it is a palatable kind of death, a death experienced obliquely, without the burden that comes with actual death. A death cloaked in the guise of ‘art’ which allows us to stay at a safe remove. A death that is sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous and often theatrical. A beautiful death, I hope.”

One of the artist’s mentors, Associate Professor Richard Whitten, said, “Emily’s paintings demonstrate not only extreme skill but extreme intellect.” In her four years at RIC, she has had 11 regional shows and has received as many grants and awards. The 24-year-old will be graduating next month with honors.

Anthony Tomaselli ’76

Her predecessor, Tomaselli, has had a long and distinguished career as both artist and businessman. He sits on the board of the Providence Art Club, teaches art classes at the club and gives public presentations.

He encourages artists like Sorlien to stay on the path. “Once you leave school, you need to have a flame inside you that’s continuously burning in order to fulfill your artistic pursuits,” he said, “because so much of ’real‘ life – those practical things in life, like buying a house and raising a family – can really douse the flame.”

At Gallery Night, Tomaselli also honored RIC President Nancy Carriuolo for her support of the arts. He said he met Carriuolo at one of his Gallery Nights last year and they had an immediate rapport. “Nancy invited me to come and see the new Alex and Ani art center at RIC,” a $17-million, state-of-the-art facility partially funded by a $1-million donation from Alex and Ani, LLC.

“The fact that Nancy was able to procure funding from Alex and Ani for this project during an economic downturn is amazing,” he said. Tomaselli expressed pride in the new building and praised Carriuolo for recognizing the importance of the arts and for continuing RIC’s tradition of affordability and excellence in education.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo

His personal recollections of studying at RIC are among his most memorable, he said. “RIC kept the artistic flame in me alive and fueled my youthful passions. There was great energy in the art department. We had a lot of heated conversations about methodologies, philosophies, new versus old, and the teachers were very involved. It was a special time. RIC has educated many Rhode Island artists like myself and many of us are members of the Providence Art Club. I truly respect the work that Nancy has done, and continues to do, to support the arts.”

Built in 1885, the Fleur de Lys Studio is located on 7 Thomas St. and is the oldest building in America designed for the sole use of artists. Tomaselli invites passersby to come in not only on Gallery Night but whenever he is at work in the studio.