“This is a dream I had. Not the kind when you are sleeping, an American dream. My first time in Kennedy Plaza watching people enjoying the city, my dream was for my sculptures to be present for everyone to enjoy. This was 20 years ago. Today it is completed. Thank you City of Providence, The Avenue Concept, RIPTA and Skye Gallery.” -Peruko Ccopacatty
On December 7, 1995, the front page of the Providence Journal-Bulletin’s Metro section carried a story about Peruvian-born, Rhode Island-based sculptor Peruko Ccopacatty and his proposal for an installation in Kennedy Plaza. Two days earlier the Board of Park Commissioners had voted to approve the placement of Generations, a work of stainless steel depicting seven figures and three generations of a family, on the grassy knoll across from the Biltmore. Unfortunately, the project never came to fruition.
Now, more than 20 years later, we’re helping Peruko Ccopacatty achieve his dream. Through a unique partnership with the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority we’ve installed four of his sculptures in an array in Kennedy Plaza. We believe it’s the first significant installation of sculpture in the plaza since the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was erected at what was then known as Exchange Place in 1871.
The four metal sculptures will be displayed in the plaza through May. A 14’ angel fashioned from reused car bumpers, a 7’ man built from reclaimed stainless steel, and two 6’ llamas sculpted from scrap metal reflect Ccopacatty’s roots in Peru’s indigenous Aymara culture.
Ccopacatty is a phenomenal talent, but he’s probably better known around the world than he is here in his own backyard. Work of this significance brings tremendous value to public space. When we learned the history of his Kennedy Plaza proposal, we knew we had to help him complete what he started more than 20 years ago.
Celebrating a long and distinguished career
With a career stretching back roughly 50 years, Ccopacatty is an internationally-renowned artist who received the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists Award of Excellence in 2003 for a life’s work of social relevance. He has exhibited his work in New York, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, California and New Mexico, as well as in his native Peru. His sculptures and murals have been commissioned around the country, including New York, Maryland, Virginia, Vermont and Utah. His studio is located in West Kingston and he has shown his work throughout Rhode Island, including several exhibitions and his own gallery on Block Island.
Originally from an Andean village on the banks of Lake Titicaca, Ccopacatty’s work often reflects his cultural roots. He is revered back home in Peru as an international ambassador for Aymara culture and created a nonprofit library/cultural center to document and preserve its art and traditions.
After arriving in the United States in 1981, Ccopacatty became a fixture on the Rhode Island arts scene. He lived for many years on Block Island, where he owned a gallery and displayed many public works. On July 24, 1994, Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci presented the artist with the key to the city and officially proclaimed it Ccopacatty Day in the City of Providence.
It was both his international significance and rich history in Rhode Island that caused us to take an interest in Ccopatty’s work – and specifically in realizing his longtime vision to install his work in the city center.
Over the past couple of months of working with Peruko Ccopacatty on this project, we’ve enjoyed getting to know an artist of unique vision and, shall we say, magnetic personality. Check out the video above and you’ll see what we mean.
Peruko Ccopacatty is represented by Skye Gallery.