189 Canal Open for “Business”

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Now that Apparel Design majors have gotten comfortable in their new home at 189 Canal Street, the department threw open the doors on Tuesday afternoon to invite the RISD community in to see the new facility.

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RISD renovated the three-story building just north of Prov-Wash in record time – gut-renovating the interior over the summer to make sure studios were ready to roll with the start of classes in September.

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Yesterday Department Head Meg DeCubellis 83 AP showed visitors around, pointing out the functional, modern design and open spaces for collaboration.

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“This year has been one of the busiest building summers in memory,” said Interim Provost Pradeep Sharma in a recent statement. “We have made some significant steps in addressing longstanding space issues and were able to move quickly [on this purchase] due to the wonderful support of the Board of Trustees.”

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RISD Riders Unite for a Good Cause

Last Saturday RISD came out strong in support of the National Grace Foundation’s RIde Against Cancer, an annual cycling-based fundraiser.

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Spearheaded by Anthony Gallonio, senior director of Student Financial Services, the RISD group included 51 cyclists who rode either the 35-mile or 65-mile routes through southwestern Rhode Island. Together the RISD team raised more than $40,000 for the foundation, which works to support young cancer patients and their families.

Among the stalwarts who managed the 65-mile stint were Director of Academic Budgets & Resources Ned Draper, Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Brian Goldberg MArch 00 (above right) and President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID (above).

RISD volunteers Suzanne Cullion, Shannon Gallagher, Don Morton and Nancy Severance also helped to make the ride a huge success.

Cherubini BOMBs

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RED POT (2014, terracotta, birch plywood, Saran Wrap, 20x21x89”)

“Devoted materialist” Nicole Cherubini 93 CR is featured in the fall issue of arts magazine BOMB. In a candid interview with reporter Sarah Braman, she discusses her Brooklyn-based practice and site-specific show at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, slated to run from October 9 through April 5, 2015.

“My earth pots are grounding for me,” Cherubini says. “They’re a reference point to everything else going on in the room. Without the pot, everything loses its meaning somehow.”

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POSEIDON’S SISTER (2014, earthenware, MDF, glass, pine, 62x29x28”)

Celebrating Sensational Shoes

A set of sensational 3D printed shoes earned Jacqueline Zhao MDes 15 a spot on a splashy photo spread in The October Book, a glossy magazine published by luxury clothier Neiman Marcus. The Interior Architecture major was one of five students from the country’s top art and design colleges who won the clothing company’s Art of Innovation design competition. Participants were asked to submit an article of clothing that utilizes new or creative materials in its construction.

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Rising to the challenge, Zhao (pictured center) entered the unconventional footwear she made last Wintersession in Augmented Body, an interdisciplinary course offered by Architecture and Apparel Design. Using rendering software, the graduate student designed boots that reinforce the natural motion of walking and produced them in plastic using a 3D printer.

“I’m developing my interest in the intersection between architecture and fashion,” Zhao notes in the magazine story.

Fractal Beauty Beyond Belief

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Wakaya – Octorals & Giants, a stunning exhibition featuring Joshua Boger’s photographs from the deep sea and RISD’s electron micrographs, is on view in the Waterman 2nd Floor Gallery from Saturday, September 27 through Friday, October 3.

Simultaneously, the Nature Lab is hosting Beneath the Surface, a complementary exhibition of still, video and scanning electron microscopy images of marine life taken at the Nature Lab.

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“We are thrilled to have Joshua Boger's beautiful work associated with our efforts to help students and faculty explore the biological influences on art and design,” notes Nature Lab Director Neal Overstrom. “The juxtaposition between his nearly human-scale images of corals and the tiny objects shown in our black-and-white micro imagery is part of what makes seeing the two exhibitions together so fascinating.”

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Boger, a multitalented multitasker with multiple degrees in chemistry and philosophy, photographed the breathtaking images off the shores of Wakaya Island in Fiji – arguably the most unspoiled place on earth.

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Owned and preserved by idealistic entrepreneurs David and Jillian Gilmour, Wakaya is a natural paradise teaming with extraordinary sea life.“I have dived its reefs over 200 times,” Boger says, “spending more than a week in its underwater world – more than, I believe, anyone on earth other than the Fijian dive masters on the island.”

The Wakaya show focuses on the true, unaltered colors and textures from two different sea animals: octocorals (or “soft corals” – see top image, for instanceand giant clams (above).  

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Instead of having stony skeletons like most corals, Boger explains, octocorals have gelatinous bodies embedded with spiny calcium carbonate half-moons called “sclerites” that provide rigidity – much like carbon fibers in modern jet wings. 

Giant clams, the largest living bivalve mollusks, can weigh more that 440 lbs and live for 100 years, but are now highly endangered. “Much of the color of the mantles comes from symbiotic dinoflagellate algae that grow inside,” Bolger explains. image

Find out more by taking a closer look at both Boger’s photographs and the Nature Lab’s micro images before the shows close on Friday. And come celebrate the beauty of design in nature at the closing reception this Thursday from 6–8 pm.

Small State, Big Talent

Tonight’s opening of the impressive NetWorks 2013–2014 exhibition at the Newport [RI] Art Museum (NAM) revolves around the work produced by a selection of Rhode Island’s leading artists – all of whom have been profiled as part of a growing collection of video documentaries. Many of the featured artists in the NetWorks series, a top-quality project shot by Richard Goulis and produced by local collector and arts advocate Joseph Chazan, have strong RISD ties.

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For instance, among the alumni you’ll find work by Jesse Burke MFA 05 PH (photo above), Michael Glancy 77 SC/MFA 80 GLPaula Martiesian 76 PT (image below), Alan Metnick MFA 73 PH and many others. Faculty include professors Larry Bush, John Dunnigan MFA 80 ID and Dean Snyder.

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President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID is also among the featured artists in the show and the video series (see below, filmed last year when she was RISD’s provost). And more RISD people are involved behind the scenes as well, with photographer Scott Lapham 90 PH shooting portraits of each artist profiled and an exhibition catalogue designed by Malcolm Grear Designers (founded by RISD Professor Emeritus Malcolm Gear and run by alumni Joel Grear 83 GD and Pat Appleton 70 GD), which will be available at the official premier on October 19.

The NetWorks show continues at NAM through January 19.

Celebrating the Birth of RISD’s Staff Council

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Members of the RISD community gathered yesterday to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of RISD’s Staff Council, a group created to represent the interests of non-faculty employees and help create a cohesive community among RISD’s staff members. 

imageFormer President Roger Mandle (right), who supported current employee Candy Seel (below) and former Design Director Liz Eddins 00 GD (left) in their efforts to launch the Staff Council, joined in the festivities.

Interim President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID, HR Vice President Candace Baer and current Staff Council Chair Karen Pietropaoli were among the speakers who honored the founding council members for successfully uniting the staff.

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“Your early work and successes are continually looked upon as the basis for our work as we move forward,” said Pietropaoli. “Thank you for helping staff members to be recognized as valuable partners in the RISD community.”

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Ideal Design + Design Ideals

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Yesterday RISD welcomed IDEO Partner and Managing Director Michael Hendrix to campus to speak as part of the state’s first-ever DESIGN WEEK RI, a series of events organized to showcase the booming creative sector in Rhode Island. Known for its human-centered, design-based approach, IDEO works with clients around the world in a wide range of fields, from consumer products to financial services to education and social innovation.

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Hendrix kicked off his talk with a series of slides showing two design approaches to the same problem – two chairs, two mugs, etc. – and asked members of the audience to shout out which was better. His point is that we all know intuitively which designs work and which don’t. That visual literacy leads to a happier world, says Hendrix.

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Building on the work of designer George Nelson (best known for How to See, the groundbreaking book from 1977) and cognitive linguist George Lakoff, Hendrix has developed a theory that design based on shared human experience and the physical senses is inherently better. Metaphors, which are largely universal and cross-cultural, provide evidence of how closely our senses link to our emotions, Hendrix says, noting that IDEO’s design teams use these basic premises with clients on a regular basis.

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Consider Converse retail establishments, for example, which are designed with the same comfortable, “worn in” look of a favorite pair of sneakers. BMW implies core qualities like “valuable” and “safe” by attaching its sedans’ doors with high-tension hinges that create the sensation of weight. And the clean, light-filled branding attached to all things Apple signifies such universally sought-after traits as transparency and futurism.   

Ready for a Hot Night?

The Glass department is continuing its weekly series of Hot Nights this evening with Glass of the Dark Ages, techniques of Medieval Europe.

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Demonstrations run from 7–10 pm in the Hot Shop (4th floor of Metcalf) and are open to anyone in the RISD community with an interest in better understanding the technical aspects of glassmaking.

The known line-up for other Hot Nights this fall includes:
10/1 » Glass of the Sultans, Islamic Glass Production
10/8 » Venice and Renaissance Europe
11/5 » Glass of China
12/3 » Glass of Modernity 

Say Hello to 3SIX0

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As part of the state’s first ever DESIGN WEEK RI ­– Rhode Island’s celebration of local creative talent for the week+ between September 17 and 27 – 3SIX0 Architecture is opening its doors to the public this evening from 5–7:30 pm. RISD Architecture Professors Kyna Leski and Chris Bardt BArch 83 run the Westminster Street studio, where visitors will enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at recent projects as well as light refreshments.

RISD Celebrates Staff Dedication

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RISD staff members gathered in the auditorium on Thursday for the fourth annual RISD Recognizes Staff Celebration. Chair of the committee Cathy Davis (bottom photo), Interim President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID, HR Vice President Candace Baer and Staff Council President Karen Pietropaoli welcomed the crowd and congratulated the 92 individuals who won awards for excellence and the 182 Make Your Mark award winners. “Today we celebrate our work,” said Somerson – “the contributions that make us one RISD.”

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After pausing for a moment of silence in memory of two longtime employees who recently passed away – Steven Bailey and Harold Grattage ­– COO Jean Eddy presented this year’s Excellence Awards.The award for Leadership went to the Career Center’s Susan Andersen (pictured below), the driving force behind RISD’s hugely successful Portfolio Review Days. Associate Registrar Alison Sherman took the prize for Efficiency/Innovation for revising RISD’s grading system.

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The award for a team or department working above and beyond the call of duty went to the Capital Oversight Committee, which included Janine Connelly, Ned Draper, Bob Hanke, Paul Mullen, Anthony Petrocchi, Anj Shaw and Jack Silva.

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A newly created award for Diversity/Inclusion went to Human Resources’ Alicia Luzon, who volunteers her time to translate for Spanish-speaking RISD employees, making sure that everyone is heard and included.

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And this year’s Service Excellence award went to Alumni Relations and Special Events Planner Pat Brown (above, center), who was described in her nomination as “the perfect ambassador for RISD.”

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all photos by David O’Connor

Reframing Questions of Documentation

Last Thursday at the Reframing the Real gathering at the CIT, students and faculty were virtually glued to a screen projecting raw images and videos captured in real time as Egyptian protestors stormed Tahrir Square in 2011. 

After culling the jarring footage from Twitter feeds, news sites and YouTube videos, Digital + Media Critic Elisa Giardina-Papa MFA 13 DM presented it at the start of an engaging panel discussion hosted by six graduate students in RISD’s department of Digital + Media and Brown’s Multimedia and Electronic Music Experiments (MEME) program. Students followed a script based on their personal conversations surrounding the power and limitations of documentation in an age where mobile phones double as cameras.

“We, as people, are media repositories,” noted Brian House, who attends MEME and teaches in Digital + Media. “We’ve collected all this data and now we’re inundated and don’t know how to feel about it… We’re desensitized to the grizzly headlines.”

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The fascinating discussion took place in conjunction with Document, Document, Document, a biennial graduate student exhibition on view through September 28 at Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery. Curated by Sameer Farooq MFA 14 GD and adjunct faculty member Anne West, the show offers an in-depth look at the process of documenting and representing studio investigations – as graduate students do in developing their thesis projects. 

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For instance, Diana Mangaser MArch 12 is presenting paintings that illustrate the concept behind Elsewhere: a Sun, a floor installation she made after adjusting her sleep patterns to the lunar cycle. 

Jordan Taylor MFA 14 CR (who represented grad students last spring as a speaker at Commencement) is showcasing watercolors created while developing Stillness, a piece made of porcelain tubes.

During the second part of program, faculty panelists such as Daniel Hewett, director of Partnered Research + Programs, considered the question: What Are We Capturing and How? He noted that last year, when students in an interdisciplinary studio sponsored by Samsung imagined how emergent technologies could potentially improve our everyday experiences, it was interesting that the tech company hired a videographer to document the students’ innovative work practices.

“How do you record those ideas and connections that – as artists – happen intuitively?” Hewett asked. “What’s the best way to do that? It’s something worth pondering.”

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with reporting from Abigail Crocker

High-Tech Home Cooking

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With tools for home chefs becoming more and more sophisticated, the Kickstarter-funded Nomiku 2.0 will soon make the sous vide cooking technique even easier for culinary aficionados. As product designer Wipop Bam Suppipat 09 ID explains, the soon-to-be released device attaches to the edge of any large pot, allowing you to cook vacuum-sealed food in a controlled, low-temperature water bath.

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This second iteration of the Nomiku ­– designed and manufactured in the San Francisco Bay Area – also connects to WiFi, allowing home cooks to control it remotely with their smartphones and providing them with recipes, tips and photos via its Tender app. 

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Suppipat and the rest of the Nomiku team raised a whopping $750,000-plus on Kickstarter to develop the product, which will retail for just under $250 and is expected to be released this spring.

Painting the Revolution

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“Eternity, it is the voice of milk mingled with night … my text is written in white and black, in milk and night.” These words by French feminist and philosopher Hélene Cixous are the inspiration behind Milk and Night, a group exhibition exploring feminism that closes this weekend at Gallery SENSEI in NYC. Anne Sherwood Pundyk MFA 82 PT helped to curate the show – on view through September 21 – and contributed an installation (pictured above) called The Revolution Will Be Painted. The piece is built around her painting Shadow Realm (below), which alludes to a female fencer prepared to defend her child. 

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“Women have largely been excluded from the canon of painting,” says Pundyk. “Rather than abandon it, and reinforce this bias, I choose to engage with the medium. I am drawn unconsciously to a string of images, each representing a moment of recognition. I believe the essence of who we are can be distilled from these moments.”

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Beata (pictured above), a painting by British artist/actress Jemima Kirke 08 PT, is also included in the exhibition. Best known for her role in the hit TV series Girls, Kirke creates paintings that explore society’s view of women, highlighting the tension between what is hidden and revealed.

Harvesting Beauty at Hollengold

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Inspired by the last issue of RISD XYZ – on Natural Instincts – botanical illustrator and educator Wendy Hollender 76 TX shared some pages from her own sketchbooks – a cornucopia of fresh finds plucked from the gardens at her own sweet Hollengold Farm in Accord, NY.

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Hollender also notes that when she was majoring in Textiles at RISD, the Nature Lab as “by far” her favorite place to draw and work. “It is still an inspiration,” she adds, noting that she now has her own “nature lab full of specimens!”

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Hollender lived and worked in Manhattan for three decades before returning to the land five years ago. “The property has been developed into a small permaculture organic vegetable farm,” she explains, where she holds workshops on both botanical drawing and permaculture and growing. “Students study and draw living plants and get to eat fresh wild and cultivated food prepared on the farm,” she says. 

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Hollender (above left) illustrated the award-winning Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi and has written and illustrated two instructional books: Botanical Drawing: A Beginner’s Guide and Botanical Drawing in Color: A Basic Guide To Mastering Realistic Form And Naturalistic Color.

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The artist’s exquisite botanicals have appeared in Real SimpleThe New York Times and O, among others, and have been exhibited at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew Gardens and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  

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