Melissa McGill painted 50 “wave paintings”, ranging from 25′-45′ long over the course of two weeks in a temporary studio on site at Rough Point, observing the ocean each day and changes in light and weather. The paintings were made on a textile made of ocean recycled plastic trash, donated to the artist by Parley for the Oceans, an environmental conservation organization dedicated to protecting the oceans. These painting were then activated by the In the Waves ensemble in performances from August 18-28, 2021.
The project title In the Waves expresses action and our connection to water. We are “in” it together. This project is about partnerships–with the wind, with the ocean, with the environment, and with members of local communities and all of these energies together. Our values affect the water. The project seeks to make that connection seen and felt.
Warmest thanks to the In the Waves ensemble, a dedicated and inspiring group of local community members who responded to an open call for participation.
Daniel Cano Restrepo
Richard K St.Aubin
Heartfelt thanks to
Dodie Kazanjian, curator of Art&Newport
Newport Restoration Foundation
Davalois Fearon, Choreographer
Melanie George, Producer and Dramaturg
van Buren Charitable Trust
Joyce and George Wein Foundation
de Ramel Foundation
Sherri and Jack Grace
Elizabeth Ann Kahane
Lani and Nick Liuzza
In Kind Support:
Parley for the Oceans
Philip Bachmann, Project Manager
Melissa Conlon, Artist Assistant
Tyler Paradis, Project Assistant
Ellis Michael Quinn, Henry Quinn, Lila Quinn
Friends of In the Waves:
David Totah and Sophia McKinnon/TOTAH
Sarah Arison and Dee Dee Sides/YoungArts
Lorén Spears and Samantha Cullen-Fry/Tomaquag Museum
Tom Powel Imaging
William van Roden
In the Waves took place on the ancestral lands of the Niantic Narragansett nation. We acknowledge those who were here before us and acknowledge and honor their continued presence and vibrancy.
In the Waves celebrates them and their enduring traditions of environmental justice. As Lorén Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island states “Environmental justice is Indigenous rights.”
“Water connects us all. Let’s remember to respect water and the water protectors of this place and around the world, in the spirit of reciprocity. This place belongs to every bird that flies over it, every insect crawling in its earth, every flower that grows here, every bee that pollinates that flower, every magnificent tree that spreads its roots wide underground, every type of fungi community that sprouts up, every rock in its foundation and every wave that washes over those rocks… and to every indigenous person who has called and continues to call this place home.” –Melissa McGill, August 2021
Samantha Cullen-Fry, coordinator of the Indigenous Empowerment Network at the Tomaquag Museum, writes “The In The Waves project really encompasses the feeling and spirit of interconnectivity. It is important for all of us to understand we are stewards of this land and its waterways. As an Narragansett/Niantic woman, mother, and educator my way of life is in knowing that all my relations are a part of us and that everything we do will effect the next 7 generations. It’s important to keep us all healthy and viable not for self preservation but for the continuation and health of Mother Earth. I appreciate Melissa’s ability to convey this through her art and her intent in making sure Indigenous voices were heard throughout this process. “
Photo by Natasha Harrison