City Life | Art

Meet the Faces of Woonsocket

For photographer Ellie Brown, Woonsocket and its citizens became her inspiration.

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Sometimes, the sheer statement of a place in time is all that’s needed to create a work of art. For photographer Ellie Brown, Woonsocket became that inspiration.

Her Faces of Woonsocket installation – which is part of the global Inside Out art project – is a citywide documentary of the residents of the “city on the move” told through portraits. While people who know Woonsocket by reputation alone might have some negative connotations, Faces of Woonsocket brings out the city’s best assets: a diverse, ever-changing community meeting striking, static physical architecture.

“On the surface the project documents 100 residents of Woonsocket with numbers on their hands telling how long they’ve lived here,” explains Ellie. “If you dig a little deeper, it’s about human interaction and placing people next to each other on a wall, who will probably never meet or talk in real life.”

Ellie, transplanted to Woonsocket for a yearlong residency, hopes her portraits of residents of the city will spark conversations and wonder. In a place like Woonsocket, there are so many connections in an old and interwoven community, so Ellie’s exhibit has become a sort of gift to the city with her blown-up 30”x50” portraits prompting just about anyone going by to say, “I know that person.”

While a street installation in a bigger city like Providence might attract an outside crowd to wonder, Faces of Woonsocket comes off more like a moment of self-reflection for the city: Who is Woonsocket? Find the portraits at the Main Street Parking Lot across from Woonsocket City Hall, Cass Avenue and East School Street.