Photoshop rendering by sculptor Gage Prentiss of a life-size sculpture 
that will be installed in Market Square. 
Photoshop rendering by sculptor Gage Prentiss of a life-size sculpture that will be installed in Market Square. 

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Bannister Community Art Project

Edward Mitchell Bannister was a noted Providence artist, philanthropist, intellectual and personality during the latter part of the 19th Century. After he won a national award—a First Prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition—his honor was withheld when jurors learned of his African heritage. His artistic talent prevailed, however, and he not only received the award but went on to help build Providence into a New England cultural center. In 1880 he became a driving force in establishing the Providence Art Club.

Due to Bannister's many significant contributions to Providence, Brown University restored his house on Benevolent Street. Another street, formerly named for a slave trader, was renamed in honor of Bannister and his philanthropic wife, Christiana. The RISD Museum houses many Bannister works.

Now, working in partnership with the Providence community and its leaders, the Providence Art Club is helping lead another fitting tribute to the artist: a bronze statue of him that will sit at Market Square on the Providence River.

Collection of the Newport Historical Society

“Sitting on a bench at Market Square, looking out at the Providence River, sketching in his sketchbook, I will capture a moment Edward Bannister repeated countless times in his life. The sculpture and plaque will create an encounter with him where people can sit and pose for pictures, whet their curiosity about his art, and enjoy the wonder and whimsy of imagining who this person was from the past. I want to help elevate him in Providence and beyond.”

— Gage Prentiss, Sculptor of the Bannister Sculpture

A Special Thank You for Your Support

If you would like to learn more about how you can support the Bannister Community Art Project, please contact
Nancy Gaucher-Thomas at ngaucher-thomas@cox.net.

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Testimonials

"I am so excited to read about the Bannister Project that you have organized! This is exactly what we need as an Art Club and we as a society need to be doing. Both my parents, and their parents (members) would be thrilled to know of this sculpture and the broader collaborative efforts - and possible scholarship! I'm delighted to have a small part in bringing this about. Congratulations!"

—Tim Philbrick
April 1, 2022

"I enthusiastically support the Bannister Community Art Project and its educational component. It’s an exciting opportunity for TAPA to be a part of bringing the cultural achievements of Edward Bannister and his wife, Christiana, to our community. This project is fully consistent with our mission as a nationally recognized Performing Arts school that actively promotes the arts in the larger Providence community."

—Elizabeth A. Richards-Hegnauer
Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts
March 19, 2022

"Edward Bannister made important contributions to the city of Providence and the state of Rhode Island and we feel that honoring him in the manner proposed will provide an avenue for residents, students and tourists alike to learn more about him."

—David R. Proulx
Rhode Island School of Design
June 23, 2021

Be part of history and help us celebrate Edward Mitchell Bannister by making a contribution to this exciting project

The Providence Art Club will serve as the Bannister project’s fiscal agent/administrator and will work with like-minded nonprofits, such as RISD, to develop programs that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. This community-wide art project will create a broader platform for community engagement and promote Bannister’s historic role through educational programming, a call for public art, and discussion of a Bannister scholarship.