RIC alum leads community art project at a Providence church

Members of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Providence will see the result of their community art project led by parishioner, artist and RIC alumni Heather Annis ’95, to be unveiled on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m. at St. Martin’s Church, 50 Orchard Ave., Providence, R.I.

Heather Annis '95
Annis is working on her master’s in theology and the arts at Andover Newton Theological School. She said her interest is in how the arts intersect with faith and how to use the arts to enhance the faith experience. Inspired by a mosaic at St. Luke’s Church in East Greenwich while attending a workshop there, Annis began implementing the plans for a mosaic at St. Martin’s church just over a year ago.

Annis said she put together a design team of church members, choosing people who represented different age groups, levels of involvement, and length of time as a parishioner, to get a cross-section of the congregation.

“We decided we wanted our mosaic to be a reflection of our mission statement, ‘Come as you are. Grow with us in faith. Go forth in peace.’ We spent a lot of time talking about what the statement meant to us and how to represent it in a new and interesting, yet recognizable way,” Annis said. Annis said the group wanted the mosaic to clearly represent that the faith journey is not a linear process. “You don’t progress neatly from one stage to the next. You also don’t journey alone,” she said.

The mosaic became an image of wheat morphing into fish and emerging as doves. “These are archetypal images grounded in the Christian tradition, but depicted in a contemporary, somewhat abstract way,” Annis said.

Through the course of the project, Annis said she expects that over 100 people will have been involved one way or another. Annis said that from the beginning, the philosophy behind the project was to get as many people involved as possible.

“Parishioners have fired the tiles with me at the glass studio [Sincera Glass] where I work, they have cut them to size and have been assembling them. In addition, church members have designed and will install the frame that will hold the mosaic,” said Annis.

Church school children have been involved in the activity by creating foam mosaics that will be displayed at the dedication.