Celebrating the life and work of Jeannine Chartier

One of the many highlights of 2023’s Arts and Humanities Month in Rhode Island was a community tribute to the life and work of Jeannine Chartier, Executive Director, Arts Equity (formerly VSA Arts Rhode Island). For more than 30 years, she was a tireless advocate for the visibility, rights and inclusion of people with disabilities in R.I.’s arts and culture community and American society broadly. Her work exemplified the value of collective responsibility, the theme of R.I.’s Arts and Humanities Month.

Held at the RISD Museum in October, more than 150 friends, colleagues and stakeholders joined a creative celebration, which, among many engaging moments, included a panel discussion on accessibility and equity; a poetry reading by VSA Poet Laureate Leah Keith; and the opportunity to contribute to a poem about Jeannine.

For the Poem, community members shared two sentences which described an image that came to mind when remembering Jeannine. Then, outgoing R.I. State Poet Tina Cane collected the sentences and versified them into a community sourced collage (or cento) poem. Read the community-created poem In All Her Strength.

Thank you to the panelists for an awe-inspiring discussion. They were:

  • Charles Baldwin, Program Officer, Cultural Equity and Access Initiatives, Mass Cultural Council.
  • Conor Moynihan, Assistant Curator, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, RISD Museum.
  • Dominic Quagliozzi, Multimedia Artist with a focus on drawing, painting and performance.
  • Casey Weibust, Art Director, Out of the Box Studio & Gallery.

View the video of the panel: Celebration of the Life and Work of Jeannine Chartier - Panel Discussion, and photos from the event.

After the celebration, the Rhode Island Foundation set up a fund, Jeannine Chartier Fund, so her work can continue in the Ocean State.

Special thanks to Christina Alderman, Charles Baldwin, Rosemary Burns, Michael Guy, Martha Lavieri, Conor Moynihan and everyone who contributed to creation of this work in memory of Jeannine.