Conceived in 2017 by social practice artist, Stephanie Benenson, Harbor Voices is a socially engaged public art collective.
We collect stories and connect people.
Initially funded by grant money from the Rhode Island School of Design, Harbor Voices quickly caught the attention of nonprofit art and community organizations as well as other artists, designers, musicians, and writers, becoming an extensive collaboration between the creative community, nonprofit organizations, and community members. Harbor Voices is a living and growing art piece.
We believe that Art, particularly participatory projects, has the ability to bring people together and impact communities. Social collaboration and storytelling strengthen family and community bonds, creating resilience in our youth and increasing connectivity and social activism within diverse populations.
By collecting immigration and origin stories, both ancestral and recent, we help connect people to causes meaningful to them, offering opportunities for resource-sharing which can promote social change.
Everyone has a meaningful story to tell.
Every story from the past relates to the present.
Individual and collective action determines the future.
The storytelling propels action.
The actions become art.
Stephanie Benenson, Artist and Founder
Stephanie Benenson is guided by inquiries into the power of exploring personal history through the medium of community storytelling. The results of which are immersive multilingual installations, augmented reality experiences, and other free, community-led public art experiences. In 2017, Stephanie started Harbor Voices, an artist-led community storytelling collective that creates public celebrations of the collective voice. Her laser and sound installations often feature over 100 global voices of ancestral and recent immigration and migration from age 6 to 86 in a many languages. The work celebrates empathy, cultural diversity, and resilience by exploring commonalities in stories across history and connecting history to the present.
Through her work, participants deepen their understanding of the immigrant experience, celebrate cultural identity, experience enhanced empathy and acceptance by discovering shared experience, and gain confidence that their voices can be a vehicle for social change. Each project is a collaborative experience between artist and community voices, with at least one educator partnership in a local public school or postsecondary school.
Colleen Andrews, Designer
My grandmother, Grace Andrews, was a textile artist and an active volunteer at her local thrift store and numerous other community organizations. Her mother, Eleanor, born in 1901 to immigrants from Alsace-Lorraine, was a painter and an elementary school teacher. Neither woman can now be found in an online search, nor can their work be viewed in a museum–though it is displayed in the homes of their children and their children’s children. Foremost mothers, wives, and homemakers, both women were perhaps unresolved in their artistic endeavors. Yet there is no doubt that their creative spirits, reverance for education, and desire to aid their communities has been passed down, along with their artwork.
Our Growing Artist Collective
Jeff Barnett-Winsby, Photographer and Social Practice Artist
Jacob Johnson, Sound Artist
Andrew Dranetz, Laser Artist and Technician
Nina Goodick, Ceramicist
Maury Vincent Burke, Education Advocate
Colin Griffiths, Producer