Three Sisters

Submitted by Allison Newsome


Client: Historic new England and City of Providence RI Dept of Art Culture and Tourism

Location: Providence , RI, United States

Completion date: 2020

Artwork budget: $50,000

Project Team

Sculptor, innovator and fabricator

Allison Newsome

drawings of 'Iroquoian' origins story Skywoman

Deborah Spears Moorehead


The museum collection of Historic New England at the Casey farm Community garden. RainKeep’ Three Sisters’ is a rain collecting utility sculpture that provides the community with a ‘PlaceMaker’ much like a communities water well in a village is a place to gather and exchange ideas. It is not only a sculpture but as a water harvesting utility that is a solution to the problem. The RainKeep’s 8’ vertical rain-chains are a natural system for kinetic imagery and storytelling. I.e., we are presently telling the Iroquoian ‘Origins’ story using the ancient technique of Repousse ( hammered) recycled aluminum. I am honored to collaborate with artist Deborah Spears Moorehead, RI Pokanoket, Wampanoag, visual artist, and traditional storyteller. We collaborated on a ‘Three Sisters’ garden and Deborah created drawings that we transformed into ‘Repousse’, hammered recycled aluminum imagery inspired by the Iroquoian creation ‘Origins’ story, the story of Sky Woman and how she fell to earth giving us the gift of ‘Three Sisters’, which is the interplanting of squash corn and beans.


The goals were to create a small pocket urban farm in the City of Providence that the community can help maintain and learn about water conservation by watering the 'Three 'Sisters Garden', a traditional indigenous interplanting of squash, corn, and beans, by using rainwater that is collected and stored with the 'Three Sisters' Rainkeep/Utility sculpture sited adjacent to the garden. Our goal is also to educate visitors about the 'origins' story of the Iroquoian, the story of Sky Woman and how she fell to earth, bringing and giving the gift of squash, beans, and corn. The story is told through the aluminum 8' vertical rain chains, offering a kinetic framework.


The collaboration between myself Native American Deborah Spears Moorehead began with her drawings of the Iroquoian Origins' story and continued in the process of translating these drawings into Repousse aluminum. Our next collaboration was the May planting of the 'Three Sisters' garden, a traditional interplanting of squash, corn, and beans. We are starting by catching pogies ( small saltwater fish) in the Narragansett Bay to bury under the soil as fertilizer in the same way Deborah was taught by her grandmother.