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Interviewed Oct 7, 2002
by Sarah Clover

Cristina Di Chiera

      Photos by Cristina: 01020304050607080910  
Cristina Di Chiera
Gregg Anderson
Cristina di Chiera
Erik Gould
Kathleen Griffin
Elizabeth Keithline
Scott Lapham
Rafael Lyons
Julie Manso and Carl Dunn
the Men of Letters
Rag and Bone Bindery
Howie Snieder
Herb Weiss
Cliff Wood
May Yao

The work and life of an artist/preservationist

Cristina, a native of Detroit, Michigan, moved to Providence a year and a half ago after finishing graduate school at Ohio State. The photos shown here were taken around 1990 at the famed Detroit Train Station (see more about the train station in the Features Archives), when a class from Wayne State University filled the space with art and installations. The professor had to go through lots of bureaucratic red tape for the opportunity to utilize this unused space. In one photo, you can see people wearing hard hats, safety being a liability issue. This was probably the only legal installation/art event in the space that was, unfortunately, never considered viable to developers.

Growing up in Detroit, Cristina got to watch her father renovate two theaters: The Music Hall and The Detroit Opera House. She also got to watch as buildings came down one at a time across from the Opera House, buildings that were being used and loved by the community. The Elizabeth Street Building is one she remembers fondly. It was filled with beautiful apartments, a flora supply shop, Elizabeth’s Café and a gift shop that just “is not the same in the new location”. She watched whole city blocks being demolished, wiping out historic buildings and any pre-existing communities. She feels that developers who do this really don’t know how they affect the community or that a community actually exists in these locations.

It isn’t surprising, then, that she is currently the Program Director of Preserve Rhode Island. PRI's purpose is to preserve the heritage of RI by promoting the maintenance or adaptive reuse of historic and significant structures and sites, and the protection of scenic landscapes and the character of neighborhoods. She helps form and maintain a network of those interested in preservation, especially historic property owners, and supplies assistance with information, helping to secure grants and fostering preservation-friendly legislation.

She is also involved with the Hive Archive and Urban Greens. Both projects are in need of a more permanent home. The Hive Archive is currently sponsoring Picture Start and working on a new project with Anna Joy (a Brown Fellow and Sister Spit): Write Your Own Dirty Story. Personally she is working on a photo series on how people occupy their spaces with a main focus on mills and factory spaces. So if you are interested in being a part of either project, feel free to contact her.

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