Invisible Bodies

Invisible Bodies, Disposable Cloth: Rhode Island and Slavery, 1783-1850s

The exhibit installed in early 2017 by Bob Dilworth, Director of the Main Gallery at the University of Rhode Island
Kingston, is on ‘slave cloth,’ with phenomenal work of artist Deborah Baronas, research Marcus Nevius, Peter Fay, Matthew Reilly, Deborah Matthews. This exhibition explores Rhode Island’s textile industry and its connections to slavery, the slave trade and other related institutions from 1783 to the 1850s.

"In 1703, Rhode Island recognized and legalized enslavement. Just over one hundred years later, the United States Congress passed a federal law banning the international slave trade, which curiously heralded a boom in the domestic slave trade. Slavery was not outlawed in Rhode Island until 34 years later."

Invisible Bodies, Disposable Cloth uses text, images, artifacts, and multimedia installation to explore the interdependence of our country’s economy and its intrinsic links with the institution of slavery. It also shines a particularly bright light on Rhode Island’s economy beginning in 1783 and running all through the 1850s.

Members of the URI Kingston contingent of RI Middle Passage Ceremonies & Port Markers Project met at URI Providence Campus in September 2017 with Steven Pennell, Artist in Residence, to check out the gallery space for Feb 2018 touring exhibit of “Invisible Bodies, Disposable Cloth.”

Bob Dilworth




Six days into the University of Rhode Island Cape Verde Delegation stay on the island of Santiago, the largest of the Cabo Verde Islands, off the coast of West Africa. This has been one of the most amazing trips I've ever taken.

The people, the food, the ocean, the air, the heart-felt goodness all around Santigo is humbling and energizing. I see relatives and friends so familiar around every corner I am often tempted to shout out their names. The photos do no justice to this incredible nation, the warmth of the people and their resolve to be the best in the world.


Bob Dilworth

A True Awakening


Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Wyoming has been a true awakening for me. I'm sitting at the highest point of the ranch, altitude 8,600 feet above sea level, on the Barrett Ridge. Behind me is the city of Saratoga and beyond is the Sierra Madre Mountain range. Just to my right and stretching as far north as the eye can see is the Medicine Bow National Forest Mountain range.

Can't begin to tell you how enchanting the whole experience has been. The four mixed-media works pictured are the beginning of a new "portrait" series based on family and friends of my home town, Lawrenceville VA, and the many friends and family I've collected along the way.

These works evoke textile as identity and traditions of African American quilt making.

Bob Dilworth

Don’t miss this State Arts Council New Show


State Arts Council Announces New Show at T.F Green Airport Art Gallery



The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) announced today that a new art exhibition, entitled MEMORY’S LANDSCAPE, will be held from May 13 through September 1, 2016 at GREEN SPACE, a gallery at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick that presents the work of contemporary Rhode Island artists.

MEMORY’S LANDSCAPE features three artists whose works reference the tradition of landscape painting in various ways. Within this exhibit, the nostalgic paintings of Jonathan Small nod strongly to traditional landscape painting; the constructed works of Ernest Jolicoeur form places remembered; and the large, narrative canvases of Robert Dilworth explore memory, myth, folktale, and spiritual belief viewed through the lens of the African American experience, thus the human condition.

Nationally recognized and exhibited, Robert Dilworth has won awards, grants and fellowships too numerous to mention in a career spanning 40 years. Working full-time as an artist, Bob is also a Professor of Art in Painting, Drawing, and Design in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Rhode Island and Director of the URI Main Art Gallery. Shown here, his large-scale, mixed media paintings reflect both his technical expertise and his interest in experimental processes.

Ernest Jolicoeur received his BFA from Rhode Island College and his MFA from Yale School of Art. His works, in which he assembles and reassembles elements to create new space, tread the line between the figurative and the abstract. Returning to Rhode Island after a ten-year hiatus in New York, Jolicoeur has exhibited widely and received numerous awards, including a RISCA Merit award and RISCA Fellowship. Additionally, Jolicoeur is an Assistant Professor at Salve Regina University.

Hailing from a family of artists, Jonathan Small continued this tradition himself, studying Fine Art at the University of Colorado, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Massachusetts Art Institute. Locally, he is active in the Providence Art Club, the Portsmouth Arts Guild and the DeBlois Gallery. Focusing recently on landscape, he frequently starts his canvases on location, later finishing them in the studio where he strives to capture the light and atmosphere of a place through his memories.

The artists were selected for exhibition by an accomplished panel consisting of Peter Geisser, arts educator and public artist, Karen Harris, painter, and Hollis Mickey, RISD Museum educator and new media artist. RISCA thanks the panelists for their service.

The Airport Galleries, a partnership between the Rhode Island Council on the Arts and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, promote outstanding work by artists living and working in Rhode Island. The galleries present art to an ever-changing audience of local, national and international travelers.

For installation pictures of this show, please visit the RISCA Flickr site at

About RISCA:
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.

About RIAC:
The Rhode Island Airport Corporation operates T.F. Green Airport and the five general aviation airports in Rhode Island. A long-time supporter of public art in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation has worked with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts on a number of public art commissions for T. F. Green and Block Island airports.


Bob Dilworth

Memories of Inhabited Spaces: Exhibition


October 13 – November 13

Artist Reception: Thursday, Oct. 15 | 5 p.m.

“Memories of Inhabited Spaces” explores the creative process of contemporary artist Robert Dilworth. The traveling exhibition features large-scale, mixed-media paintings of human figures, sculptural dolls and abstraction on paper. The work is informed by conversational interviews with friends, stories collected from relatives and personal observations.

Bob Dilworth - Bannister Exhibit 2015

The exhibition focuses on Dilworth’s current phase of creativity evolving from a three-year exploration of tactile surfaces that incorporate mixed media. Dilworth’s work expands the concept of contempoary painting by including stenciling, spray paint, stitching, fabric and printed materials.

Organized by Rhode Island College and the Bannister Gallery, “Memories of Inhabited Spaces” is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue.

For more information visit:

Bob Dilworth

Press Release


Bob Dilworth – Artist, Educator

Bob Dilworth

click to enlarge


The physical process of painting and its vitality is integral to my work.

My work has transitioned from emotionally charged abstract imagery painted on non-traditional surfaces to figurative paintings on canvas with mixed media added to its surface. The work gives visual expression to my experiences growing up in the South within a large family and rich in lively personas. Often, I explore in a unique manner memories, myths, folktales and spiritual beliefs from that period.

My working process begins with observations, in-depth research to clarify ideas, making photographs for study purposes and creating a series of drawings to work out compositions before each painting. My artistic journey is a continuity of ideas and themes expressed through
experimentation of media, surfaces and studio techniques. There is always something new pushing my work forward and at the same time, I’m constantly returning to old ideas. In the end, I realize what is required to finish each painting. My hope is to capture textures, feelings and patterns of life; which represent motifs of a person in their environment. I challenge myself to test out new ideas and materials to keep the vision moving forward.

My new body of work comprises of large-scale canvases measuring 60”W x76H” or larger. Each is meticulously composed of human figures in homage to the classical techniques of masters such as Caravaggio and Michelangelo. The figures are posed within cluttered spaces reminiscent of Dutch paintings. I incorporate a translucent and bold color palette, dense patterns and energized surfaces found in African American homes and in diverse communities.

These items and patterns represent a  Bob Dilworthrange of emotions and memories for those who inhabit the space.

My current work evolved from a four-year exploration of developing surfaces and incorporating mixed media including stencils, stitching, inks, and glued fabrics that are integral to the painting.

This work in progress moves my contemporary paintings into a new phase of creativity. When something is added to the canvas, it is about augmenting or completing an idea. The goal is to take that idea to a different level beyond the lines. I am interested in metaphorically depicting life-size figures in various emotional and psychological states and invite the viewer to contemplate their meaning.

I treasure and present this body of work as household “shrines” possessing personal, political, and spiritual significance.

I hope you see that too.

Bob Dilworth

Artboards RI – Bob’s Art on Billboards in Jan 2015


Bob Dilworth - Billboard RI - Backyard

Photo by Bob Dilworth
An image of Bob Dilworth’s work, “Backyard,” will be displayed on a billboard in Providence in January, as part of the Artboards RI project. The original work was made this year from acrylic, oil and ink paint.

Look for Bob’s work on billboards in the Valley Street, Allens Avenue or Charles Street area in Providence as the works of local artists are posted on billboards intended to engage schools and other community organizations within walking distance of the billboards in conversations about the art. Bob’s work named “Backyard” will be displayed on a billboard in January.

There is a great article on penned by Melanie Saunders which gives a great description of  of the idea, history, and focus of this interesting project.

“Backyard,” Dilworth said, is an “outdoor” piece because of what it depicts, but it was difficult to make the choice of what to submit because he could see a few of his other works doing well outdoors. When asked if the project could be categorized as street art, another outdoor art form with revived interest, he said that he sees this project as having both a different philosophy and execution.

“Street art is spontaneous – it’s made there on the spot. Usually, there’s not a lot of forethought and has more to do with this element of tagging, relying on just that energy of the moment,” he said. “Whereas what we’re doing is almost the opposite. These are studio pieces that are really much considered and created without the idea of ever being placed on a billboard or outside.”

Bob Dilworth


12th Annual State Black Art Exhibit


Artists reception – Friday November 14th, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Program start at 6:30 pm.

@One Capitol Hill
Providence, RI


Gallery hours – Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
More information call Gallery – (401) 222-6397

Bob Dilworth - Black Art Exhibit 2014 - Rhode Island

Bob Dilworth


The Providence Phoenix comments


Under the Title “Local Luminaries The 2014 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition” Greg Cook  writes in the Providence Phoenix:

“Reenacting a childhood photo, portraits of fabulous old ladies, and dollhouse meditations on architecture are among the artworks featured in the “2014 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition,” at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Mill Gallery (560 Mineral Spring Ave, Pawtucket, through March 28). The show rounds up 12 artists and collaboratives that the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts has awarded $5000 to $1000 grants this year. Below are six projects that particularly caught my attention.

Dilworth’s ‘Venus.’

Bob Dilworth goes over the top with decoration and fabulousness in his painting Venus — and it’s just the right move. It appears to be a portrait of two women in matching dresses and shawls seated side by side on a couch. Actually, it’s a repeated portrait of the same octogenarian singer friend twice. The faces are black-and-white photo transfers, one looking skeptical, the other with an impish smile. The rest is exuberant color and pattern — leafy rugs and cushions and shawls overlaid by webs of fluorescent green studded with real sparkling rhinestones. Rather than painting the background, Dilworth inserts flower-patterned fabric. The effect of it all is a sundae with everything on it. You can’t get too much of a good thing.”

Read more





Solo Show Jan 27 thru Feb 28


The University of Rhode Island Department of Art and Art History and Africana Studies Present

New Works By Bob Dilworth

January 27 – February 28

Opening reception January 27, 3:00 – 4:30pm
Evening Reception February 14, 4:30 – 7:30


click for Exhibition website

Main Gallery
URI Fine Arts Center Building
105 Upper College Road
Kingston, RI


This activity is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


RISCA Fellowship Show, Feb 21 – Mar 28


RISCA_ID_full_1.2The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts presents 25 of the State’s Finest Artists at the 10th Annual RISCA Fellowship Exhibition Friday, February 21 through Friday, March 28, 2014. The RISCA Fellowship Exhibition is an annual event that showcases works by Rhode Island artists who have been recognized by the State for artistic excellence in their discipline. Fellowship Winners receive a $5000 award and Fellowship Merit Award Winners receive a $1000 award. Artwork by each artist will be included in the 2014 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition.

This year the RISCA Fellowship Exhibition will take place at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Mill Gallery, 560 Mineral Spring Ave in Pawtucket. The public is invited to attend:

Opening Artists Reception on Friday, February 28th from 6-9:00 PM.

Fellowship Writers Night on Friday, March 7th from 6 – 8 PM when literature Fellowship Award Winners will read from their most recent works. This event will also feature performances by Music Composition Fellows Kirsten Volness and Paul Phillips

Artists Talk and Closing Reception on Friday, March 28th from 6 – 8 PM, when Fellowship artists will talk about their work and creative process.

All events are free and open to the public. Gallery Hours: Thurs – Fri 3 – 7 pm, Sat – Sun 1 – 5 pm or by appointment: 401-487-8811

“The Fellowship Exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to experience the work of the artists selected as Rhode Island’s 2014 RISCA Fellows,” says Cristina DiChiera, Director of Artists Programs for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. “These artists were selected through a rigorous review process and they represent some of the finest creative talent our state has to offer,”

Visual artists featured in the 2014 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition include Bob Dilworth, Ernest Jolicoeur, Kirstin Lamb, Judith Larzelere, Jon Laustsen, Olivia McCullough, Quintin Rivera Toro, Eleanor Sabin, Jonathan Sharlin, Steven B Smith, and J.R. Uretsky. Video and music stations in the gallery will feature works by choreographers Ali Kenner-Brodsky and Danielle Genest, composers Paul Phillips and Kirsten Volness, filmmakers Xander Marro and William Smyth, and New Genres artists Megan and Murray McMillan. The Fellowship Writers Night will include readings by Ifa Bayeza, Tina Egnoski, Samson Jardine, Adara Meyers and Anna Solomon and performances by Music Composition Fellows Kirsten Volness and Paul Phillips.

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship Exhibition runs from from February 21 through March 28 at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Gallery.

PAC at The Mill Gallery in 
Lorraine Mills 560 Mineral Spring Avenue
Pawtucket, RI 02860

About the 2014 Fellowship Artists
Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Hours and Directions 

“Funding provided in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and private funders.”

Providence Journal review review



RISCA Grant in Painting for 2014.


Received word that I was awarded the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts Grant in Painting for 2014.

Here is what Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee had to say about it in the letter I received:

“The RISCA Awards are highly competitive and are designed to recognize and support artists doing exemplary work. 

I believe strongly that artists, musicians, theatres, galleries, historic and heritage organizations, curators, designers, writers, film and media professionals, architects, and other developers of new ideas and intellectual property are critical to Rhode Island’s economy and its reputation as a ‘state of the arts’. You should be proud that your contribution has been so recognized by RISCA as important to our state”.

I am honored and humbled to receive this award.

Read more



Group Shows 2013

June 3 – July 5, 2013

Rhode Island Contemporary:
The Art Collection of Dr. Joseph A. Chazan

Reception June 12, 6pm -8:30pm

URI Main Gallery

URI Fine Arts Center
105 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI
Gallery hours: Monday – Saturday 12 – 4:00 p.m.

More information


July 12 – November 3, 2013

Locally Made
Rhode Island School of Design Museum

224 Benefit Street
Providence, RI 02903
Main: 401 454 6500
Visitor Services: 401 709 8402
Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 am–5 pm
Thursdays, 10 am–9 pm

More information


June – July, 2013

Group Exhibition

Gallery Q,
3 Central Street, Providence RI.


July 29 – September 26, 2013

We Are Family

City Hall Gallery,
Downtown Providence

Providence City Hall
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
401 421 7740
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

More information


 September  9- October 12, 2013

Group Exhibition

Gallery Z

259 Atwells Ave. Providence RI
Mon – Wed: by appointment and by chance
Thurs – Sat: 12 – 8pm
Open Sundays resuming September 23rd, 12-6PM

More information


September –  October, 2013

Faculty Exhibition

Main Gallery,
University of Rhode Island,
Kingston, RI

URI Fine Arts Center
105 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI
Monday – Saturday 12 – 4 p.m.

More information



Gallery Night Guide


Join Bob on April 18th as he returns as one of the guides for the Gallery night Providence 6:20 Contemporary Tour visiting: AIAriChabot GalleryGallery ZRoyal GalleryURI. 



Gallery Night Providence is a free, fun-filled introduction to Providence’s exciting art scene! On the third Thursday of the month, from March through November, over two dozen of the city’s hot “art spots” open their doors – inviting you to a visual arts party.

Theme-dedicated bus tours leave at 5:20, 5:40, 6:00, 6:20 (this is Bob’s tour), 6:40, and 7:00 pm. Tours stop at approximately 4 galleries each and run about 2 hours. Parking is free at our central location at One Regency Plaza located at the end of Greene (2nd parking lot on the left) in back of the Providence Public Library. You can also pick up the bus from any one of your favorite galleries. Be sure to catch the last bus to return you to your car.

Gallery Night Guides are stationed at Regency Place and ride the Art Busses. They offer information about different art exhibitions and point out the city’s historic and architectural treasures.

Celebrity Guided Tours offer a chance to mix and mingle with people who care deeply about art. Celebrity Guides run the gamut from the curators and academics who shape opinions about art to the artists whose lives’ work is giving form to their passion. Take a tour and follow in the footsteps of someone who thinks a lot about art and enhance your personal point of view. As always, we end the season in November with our one-of-a-kind art shopping tour. 

More information and the Celebrity Guides page







Invisible Bodies

Invisible Bodies, Disposable Cloth: Rhode Island and Slavery, 1783-1850s The exhibit installed in early 2017 by Bob Dilworth, Director of …
Read More


Six days into the University of Rhode Island Cape Verde Delegation stay on the island of Santiago, the largest of …
Read More

A True Awakening

Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Wyoming has been a true awakening for me. I’m sitting at the highest …
Read More

Don’t miss this State Arts Council New Show

State Arts Council Announces New Show at T.F Green Airport Art Gallery The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts …
Read More