Ruane Center for the Humanities

Ruane Window

This magnificent window graces the Great Room in the Ruane Center for the Humanities at Providence College. The window was designed by artist Sylvia Nicholas, a stained glass master who lives in New Hampshire. Sylvia Nicholas also designed the stained glass windows in the St. Dominic Chapel, as well as several sculptures located throughout the campus. This masterful display of major figures in philosophy, history, science, and other areas of the humanities, was installed in the Fall 2017 semester, following the building’s dedication four years earlier. To see details of the individual panes, simply explore the galleries for each row, below. How wonderful to see Darwin next to Gandhi and Shakespeare next to Galileo! These are the sorts of juxtapositions one has the liberty to explore in a liberal arts education.

Row 1 (Top)


Row 2 (Second from top)


Row 3 (Second from bottom)


Row 4 (Bottom)

Portland’s Chinese Garden

Recently I was in Oregon visiting my sister-in-law.  We took a day trip to Portland, where we visited Powell’s Bookstore, which claims to be the largest bookstore in the world.  Covering an entire city block and having several stories, the claim may just be accurate!  One thing is for sure, I spent entirely too much money there and had to ship my books back rather than carry them on the plane.

Following the bookstore, we went to the nearby Lan Su Chinese Garden, also covering an entire city block.  What a lovely and inspiring place!  The garden was built by craftsmen from Portland’s sister city, Suzhou in China’s Jiangsu province, famous for its gardens.  Sixty-five artisans from Suzhou completed the garden in 2000, assembling materials brought from and partially constructed in China.  Doorways and windows create an illusion of infinite space.  Each doorway is headed by inscriptions on each side.

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Everything here has a story here.  One of the first stops as one tours the garden is the Knowing the Fish Pavilion.  It is said that two philosophers were talking as they watched the fish in the pool.  The first one noted how happy the fish are.  The second one said: “You are not a fish.  How can you know that the fish are happy?”  The first answers: “You are not me.  How do you know what I know?”

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Waterplace Park From Above

Memorial Boulevard

Memorial Boulevard

Providence is a beautiful city, much more beautiful than when I moved here in 1984.  Back then the Providence River flowed through the city (as it still does), but nearly all of its course was covered with roadways.  Now it is opened up.  Furthermore, it is the site of an artistic installation known as Waterfire.  The creation of sculptor Barnaby Evans, Waterfire became an annual attraction in 1997, following two initial events in 1994 and 1996.  The installation consists of several braziers placed in Waterplace Park and along the Providence River.  These are stoked with maple wood and lit at sunset.  City streets are blocked off and several restaurants provide outside seating, giving downtown Providence the feel of a European city.

Waterplace Park

Waterplace Park

Yesterday I had a chance to view the site of Waterfire from a new perspective, the 14th floor terrace of the Waterplace Residence, a condominium complex at Waterplace Park.  This locale afforded a view looking down on Waterplace Park and the Providence River, as well as a panorama of the skyline of the city.  You can see the braziers used for Waterfire.  You can also take in the best side of Providence Place Mall, the Westin Hotel, the Biltmore Hotel, and Providence’s own “Superman Building.”  Not really used in filming anything related to Superman–TV series or movies–the building is said to look like the Daily Planet building in the 1950s comic books.  Unfortunately the building now stands empty, although it is home to nesting peregrine falcons.  You can monitor their progress via this Peregrine webcam run by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

Enjoy this view of Waterfire from above, at noon and without the fire!