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What is your definition of art?

On the Rhode Island Report podcast, Tracy MacDonald, producer of ART inc. on Rhode Island PBS, talks about art ranging from blown glass to prosthetic eyes

Tracy MacDonald, producer of ART Inc. on Rhode Island PBS, talks to Boston Globe reporter Edward Fitzpatrick during the Rhode Island Report podcast.Abbey Oldham
Rhode Island PBSRI PBS

PROVIDENCE — From Lego blocks to prosthetic eyes, art comes in many forms.

On the Rhode Island Report podcast, Tracy MacDonald talked about the wide range of art she chronicles as producer of the ART Inc. program on Rhode Island PBS.

During the program, MacDonald asks guests “What is art?” And she receives a wide variety of responses.

“Art tells stories so we can understand each other from a distance and close,” one artist said.

“Anything that you are digging down deep within yourself, and other people even, to manifest from this invisible realm and bring it into a physical realm, I believe is art,” another artist said.

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When asked what art means to her, MacDonald said, “Art is whatever you need it to be, depending on who you are and what you need from it.”

One recent episode of ART inc. focused on Eben Horton and his wife, Jennifer Nauck, artists who create the hundreds of handblown glass fishing floats that are hidden on Block Island each year, setting off a widely popular scavenger hunt.

In the episode, Horton quotes Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

MacDonald said that reflects the motivation behind the ART inc. episodes. “I do feel very much that I want this to be a gift to the people I’m working with,” she said. “We have we have such a rich community of creators here in Rhode Island and in southern New England, and I really want to reflect them back to themselves as how I how I see them.”

Another recent episode of ART inc. focused on Andrew Grover, an artist who uses Legos to make models of neglected or uncelebrated buildings in Rhode Island.

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For example, he has created Lego versions of the Aldrich Junior High School in Warwick and the Carl Lauro Elementary School, which the Providence Public School District plans to shut down at the end of this school year.

“Andrew Grover is really interested in changing the conversation around public buildings, particularly public schools,” MacDonald said. “And he’s very much looking at classism, as he says: Why are some old buildings worth preserving for certain communities and others aren’t?”

MacDonald said she is also working on an episode about prosthetic sculpture, including prosthetic eyes.

“I was interested in prosthetics specifically because I grew up around a lot of people with different kinds of disabilities,” she said. “The world of prosthetics is moving fast, and there’s an art to creating them.”

The episode will center on Kaylee Dougherty, a trained sculptor. “She has an art degree in sculpture,” MacDonald said. “And she wanted to do something that would allow her as an artist to really help people, to serve people with her talents.”

To get the latest episode each week, follow Rhode Island Report podcast on Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms, or listen in the player above.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him @FitzProv.