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Rhode Island School of Design + the Social Light Movement present Southlight, a Lighting Installation at Grace Church Cemetery


Rhode Island School of Design presents Southlight, a lighting installation project by RISD students at Grace Church Cemetery. Southlight is the culmination of RISD Wintersession course “Light, City and Community,” led by RISD visiting faculty Elettra Bordonaro architect, PhD and co-founder of the Social Light Movement, a philanthropic organization that works internationally to improve access to quality lighting, especially in disadvantaged communities.

For two days, the nine acres of land at the intersection of Broad Street and Elmwood Avenue, known as Grace Church Cemetery, where many important Rhode Island figures are buried, will welcome the public for a light display that honors the past, the present and a potentially brighter future for the cemetery.

The public installation will begin at 6:00PM on February 6 and 7, and will include an interactive light display, activities for children and refreshments in the (heated) caretaker’s cottage on the premises. All are welcome.

Students from RISD’s Industrial Design, Furniture Design and Architecture departments engaged with neighborhood businesses and residents to find out what ideas and concerns about the cemetery existed. With that in mind, the class worked in teams to proposed several ideas for installations, finally distilling their work into one unifying concept. The RISD proposal was met with enthusiasm at a community meeting of stakeholders, including SWAP, the Elmwood Neighborhood Association, Grace Church, the City of Providence, Residential Properties, and Providence Preservation Society, and the class has been hard at work securing donations, testing fittings and building the structures that are integral to the design to prepare for this celebration.

This has truly been a local community endeavor, with support and sponsorship from RISD, Social Light Movement, SWAP, Grace Church, Residential Properties, the City of Providence, PHILIPS Color Kinetics, National Grid, Friendship Café at Amos House, ATR Treehouse and WaterFire.

About Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has earned an international reputation as the leading college of art and design in the United States. Approximately 2,400 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 studio majors. RISD is known for its phenomenal faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on, studio-based approach to learning – one in which critical thinking informs making works by hand. Required courses in the liberal arts provide an essential complement to studio work, enabling graduates to become critical and informed individuals eager to engage with the world. Through the accomplishments of its 26,000 alumni, the college champions the vital role artists and designers play in satisfying the global demand for innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum of Art help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit or


At RISD there's nothing unusual about suddenly finding a doorknob on a tree trunk, shown here across from Carr House,
the charming home of Student Life offices and the student-run Carr Haus Café.