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Last updated: 9/16/09

What’s New:
Library Exhibit — Sept. 21 - Nov. 20, 2009
Happenstance: Women at Work

For much of the fall semester, the University of Rhode Island Libraries Gallery will be displaying Happenstance: Women at Work, an exhibit by photographer Madeleine O. Robinson of candid photographs of women at their work sites in our local area. An opening reception will be held September 23 between 6 and 8 pm.

Woman working on a sailboat in Newport Harbor
Woman working on a sailboat in Newport Harbor


Artist’s Statement

“...work alone is noble...”
— from Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle

While on a field trip to Warsaw, Poland with teachers of an English language camp in 2000, I came across two women at the restored historic gate to the city. One was playing a harp-like instrument and the other stood close by to oversee their spot. The contrast of the blonde musician in her light dress and white instrument opposite her companion in the shiny black raincoat caught my eye. Also, the brick and stone work surrounding them gave their delicate situation a certain solidarity.

But, more than that, I remember thinking that I ought to do an exhibit in celebration of women at work in everyday life. Then I forgot about it until late Spring of 2007. As I was pulling work for my second ten year year retrospective, I found the Warsaw photo. I put it in the exhibit and at the same time decided to start work on this one, Happenstance: Women at Work. Finally, here it is!

I am  directly connected to each woman photographed in this exhibit by “happenstance,” that is, I met each one by chance in the rounds of my daily life.

The photographs are candids of the women at their worksites, and most of the photographs were done on the spot. A few had to be delayed, but were taken without studio conditions. Eight of the photographs were taken in Massachusetts, one in Fort Lauderdale airport and the rest in Rhode Island.

In the end, the exhibit displays a depth and breath of progress of women working in our area of the world, but then each photograph in the exhibit speaks for itself, or as it is often said, a “picture is worth more than ten thousand words

Working “...is about search...for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as for cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.  Perhaps immortality, too, is part of the quest.”
— From Working by Studs Terkel.


The Artist

Madeleine O. Robinson, Ph.D. has been an artist member of the Attleboro Arts Museum, Attleboro, MA since 1999 and has participated annually in many of their shows, especially the Member, Flower and Small Works events. Her photographs have been exhibited at River Bend Visitor Center in Uxbridge, MA; Ten Year Retrospective at the East Greenwich Photo Gallery, January 1998; Community College of Rhode Island in Lincoln, RI and at the Attleboro City Hall, Attleboro, MA.


The University Libraries Gallery is located on the main floor of the Robert L. Carothers Library & Learning Commons, 15 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881. Library hours are:

Monday-Thursday 8:00 am - 11:30 pm
Friday  8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 pm - 11:30 pm

For more information, please call (401) 874-2672.

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