WaterFire Announces The End Of The 'Rosa Parks House Project' Exhibit

May 23, 2018

The house where Rosa Parks stayed with family after she left the south won’t remian in Providence, as some might have hoped. After a one-month display, the Rosa Parks House Project will be packing up June 3rd. 

Brown University was originally supposed to host the exhibit, but cancelled its plans citing a dispute over the house.

A non-profit, The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which owns the rights to her name and likeness, has raised questions about claims that Parks lived in the house for any significant amount of time. Rosa Parks's neice, Rhea McCauley and the project's artist, Ryan Mendoza, maintain that Parks lived in the Detroit home. It was owned by her brother who lived there with his wife and family. McCauley and former neighbors have said they remember Parks's time there. 

The exhibit was eventually displayed by the nonprofit WaterFire Arts Center in Providence, after the organization raised enough funds to showcase the house for a month.

In a statement, Peter  Mello,  managing director and co-CEO at WaterFire Providence, said, "We were pleased that the WaterFire Arts Center was the first gallery in the United States to present Ryan Mendoza’s powerful art installation giving Rhode Islanders an opportunity to experience a timely work of art that addresses so many issues that Rosa Parks faced in her life and which continue to challenge many Americans today."

According to McCauley and Mendoza, the house had been slated for demolition, an apparent victim of the housing crisis and Detroit's economic downturn. Although her family had not owned or lived in the home for some time, McCauley said she decided to purchase it.

She later transferred the house to Mendoza, who brought it, in pieces, to Berlin, where he lives. Mendoza then reconstructed the house, turning it into an art installation, which attracted attention in Berlin. 

WaterFire plans to host a community picnic on June 2nd to celebrate the final weekend of the exhibition in Providence. Mendoza has been involving in negotiations to keep the exhibit in the United States, according to his wife, Fabia Mendoza.

Editor's note: This post has been updated.