Annabel Evison ’24

Dirt Palace, Providence, RI

This summer I had the opportunity to intern for Dirt Palace, a feminist art collective founded in 2000 in Providence that recently acquired and opened a new space to expand their work. The Dirt Palace hosts a long-term residency program for artists that center feminism in their lives or practice and strives to provide opportunities for artists whose identities are underrepresented and marginalized in the larger art world. These one- to three-year residencies occur at the original location, 14 Olneyville Square, in what was once an abandoned library, renovated by my supervisors, Xander and Pippi, to function as a live-in workspace with bedrooms upstairs and studios downstairs. Most of my time, however, was spent at the Wedding Cake House, the more recent acquisition and renovation project under the umbrella of Dirt Palace. Opened in 2020, the space, a late 19th-century Victorian mansion, was reimagined to host a shorter-term artist residency program for artists who fall later in their practice than those at Dirt Palace Classic: people who have partners, children, a more permanent studio space and are not at a time in their lives where their lifestyle can accommodate a “DIY” living situation. This incredible house is where I was lucky enough to work, surrounded by artwork and incredible original architectural details. Although the house is currently run as a bed-and-breakfast when it is not hosting residencies, my main responsibilities fell outside of the day-to-day work of Xander and Pippi, and more into the administrative side of a small, nonprofit arts organization.

This summer has reinforced my interest in art history as a discipline and in the multitude of careers that a degree in art history can open doors to. I have mostly taken classes at Williams that fall under the historical side of the department. My perspective on this focus has changed both from taking a class on the recent past (1980s-present) of Berlin and because Xander and Pippi are so well-connected and deeply intertwined within the contemporary and niche art world. I am deeply interested and feel somewhat dedicated to this side of art—the subversive, underground, outside of popular knowledge or understanding. In fact, I hope to bring what I have learned to Williams in the form of an artist collective dedicated to alternative, student art; a space run by students for students to use in whatever way they desire. I hope to encourage every aspect of the arts to flourish at Williams and to open up the possibilities for art creations or practices that fall outside of the criteria of courses. I believe that the student body can only be enriched by the cultural practice of art and a space for its creation that runs counter to administrative structures is necessary for it to flourish.

I would like to thank the Kraft Family and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for providing me this opportunity. I truly enjoyed it and will think about my time this summer as I continue my education and beyond.