Amber Blanchette '18, Wakehurst lawn
Artist's statement: On Oct. 5, 1972, Salve Regina University took ownership of the Newport mansion known as Wakehurst. Now the site of the campus’s student activities center, Wakehurst was once home to grand parties, powerful guests and even a royal wedding. Its previous owner, Mrs. Louis Bruguiere, was considered to be the last torch of the Gilded Age lifestyle, retaining a staff of footmen and silver polishers. Such a lifestyle seems incongruous to the Wakehurst that one experiences today. In this historic section of Newport, we stand daily in the shadows of both former students and elite members of another world. "Walking Memories" highlights this idea of a hidden history lying just beneath the surface. Moving across a space, we leave invisible trails, brief moments of occupation that remain only within our memories. Though a site may be constant, our presence in it can never be anything but ephemeral. The dusty white footprints of this piece follow the paths of pedestrians long past, trapping that fleeting moment in time in which they existed in that place. From a distance, a viewer cannot see anything but an empty green field, but upon closer inspection they will discover the faint footprints of a hidden history waiting to be examined.
Families gather for the Family Brunch at Salve Regina's Ochre Court in Newport, RI during Fall Festival Weekend.