Kia Davis has been involved in creative pursuits in Providence since her days as a member of AS220’s Youth Studio during high school. A Rhode Island native who went away for art school at Pratt Institute in NYC and returned home to Providence, she is deeply embedded in the Providence creative community. For the past year Kia has made an indelible impact on DPPC’s programming and communications as a valued member of our team. In April Kia will be moving into a full time position with our partner InDowncity, continuing to enliven downtown with her presence, creativity, and amazing work. Join us in congratulating her and read on to learn a little bit more about Kia’s artistic life outside of work.
So what do you do at the DPPC? I assist in programming at Burnside Park, and help out with the communications– it’s a lot of writing and engaging with people over the internet and through printed materials.
What does your creative life consist of? I studied photography, and make these super meditative, and sometimes abstract works.
I also love telling stories, so I’ve dabbled in narrative filmmaking for about 7 years. I’ve co-written three films, two of which have been shown all over the world (Exit Elena and Soft in the Head) and the third is currently in post-production (Puppytown). This last one was my first time directing, and I have to say, I think I may have found my niche. It is challenging to be responsible for so many sides of a project, but working with other people that closely to make something is tremendously rewarding.
I’m interested in exploring control and chance, and the choices that are left when you let the two duke it out. The photos I make usually involve elements of nature in which I have no control, and the films I’ve worked on have been largely improvised, with guiding dialogue that then gets thrown out in favor of a naturalistic performance.
How does this relate to your work with the DPPC? You have to be really flexible when you are working on any event. You can do everything in your power to make sure things come out the way you expect, but there is always an element of chance that a performer will have trouble reaching the event on time, or there’s a disturbance in the crowd, or a PA blows up. It’s about being aware, and using the elements at your disposable to do the most you can with them!
Communicating to people about what we do is also something like telling a story. I want to show what is going on at Burnside Park and throughout Downtown Providence. The exciting part is making sure all the photos and text I use in the materials relates to the values and mission of the DPPC, which is very altruistic. Free programming for all! Employing artists and musicians! Community health! It’s all about access, and providing opportunities for everyone, whether it’s teeny tiny children on their way to get a bus to Cranston, an on-point Salsa band, or a performance artist turned temporary educator. There is meaning and depth to what the DPPC does at Burnside Park, and it is gratifying to figure out how to express that to our varied audiences, and provide them a space to make their own opportunities.
What’s the best lesson you learned from being creative that you can apply to work? Do first and think later. You can think yourself into paralysis if you don’t get something started. Once you get moving, you can edit a thousand times over to get things to where you want them to be.
What have you learned from your work that you can apply to your creative life? Whether you are trying to get people out to your gallery or music show, or funding from a public source, your success is always ALWAYS about how well you communicate your ideas and what greater purpose you serve to the community by doing so. I still feel like my personal stuff is very young, and maybe too self-reflective. So, I really appreciate being reminded of so many talented artists and educators whose work moves through empowering communities and young people. I am constantly learning through our creative partners and Program Manager, Jen Smith, about how to really engage people and not just create work in a vacuum. For that I am really thankful.