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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
all photos by David O’Connor
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.”
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.
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.”
with reporting from Abigail Crocker
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
The artist’s exquisite botanicals have appeared in Real Simple, The 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.
If interim President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID could go back in time and give her 21-year-old self a valuable piece of advice, she’d urge: Plan way ahead.
“Think of yourselves as an institution,” she told students at the first session of RISD Leads on Monday night. “Where do you want to be in 20 years? Every skill you acquire here is crucial to your development and instrumental in building your future. Leaders are always looking to the future.”
Now in its second year, the RISD Leads series is organized by the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) as a means of helping students build leadership abilities, develop critical thinking skills and learn how to be catalysts for social change.
Seated in front of approximately 100 artists and designers, Somerson shed light on how her own experiences as a RISD student, furniture maker and successful entrepreneur have helped her develop effective leadership skills. At one point during the discussion, a student asked the president to share what she learned through launching her acclaimed furniture studio.
“It’s important to retain an unwavering commitment to the vision of your practice,” Somerson responded. “If you remain focused on your ideas – and can act resourcefully – it’s possible to make something wildly innovative.”
This RISD Leads series continues this year with a line-up of great guest speakers. For example, Umberto Crenca – founder and director of the arts nonprofit AS220 – will come to campus on October 17 to discuss how his artist-run organization has helped revitalize downtown Providence. On November 3, students will also get the chance to hear from Bobby Gondola, operations director at Year Up, an organization that empowers underserved young adults to pursue rewarding careers.
With a particular interest in entrepreneurship, Kevin Cadena 16 GD is attending the workshop series to get inspiration for Sushi Time Co., his budding clothing company. The graphic designer looks forward to meeting with Bill Foulkes, a faculty member who is hosting a RISD Leads lecture on “creative intelligence” on November 17. “This is all good food for thought,” Cadena noted with a smile.
Jack Dickerson 69 GD says that he paints “things not as they are” but based on how he feels about them. As the owner of Dickerson Gallery on Cape Cod, he paints first and foremost to please himself, showing work that also appeals to the people who drop by his gallery in Brewster, MA. His boats, sunsets, marshes and shellfish are especially popular.
Dickerson recently shared a telling but very basic story about how he got from there to here:
“I ran my own very successful graphic design firm in Boston for 27 years believing that we had a huge responsibility to truly and meaningfully help our clients,” he explains. But when he was in his mid-50s he felt there was something more he had left undone.
“I had never painted before age 53, and started drawing on vacations, and then started painting with some of my wife’s 30-year-old oils,” Dickerson explains. “Things progressed and I scaled back my design biz to one person (myself), did some superb work with very large clients and then took the full jump” to making art full time.
“So here I am on Cape Cod, years later, selling my paintings in my own gallery. I paint in many different styles…”
The graphic designer-turned-painter has this to say about Jump for Joy: “gestures and movement! I love working in this style.”
As for “the take-away” from Dickerson’s decision to forego a career in graphic design in favor of fine art: “We never really know what we are fully capable of,” he says. “With determination, self-motivation and longing for meaningfulness, we can find that at any time in our lives. There are a lot of people who simply need to believe in themselves.”
Sebago, the classic New England footwear company, is turning to RISD students, faculty and staff with interesting studio and workspaces in order to shoot an ad campaign they’re calling Life Well Crafted.
Interested artists and designers should show up at Market House this Thursday, September 18, between 6 and 10 pm with a photo of their studio or workspace in hand.
Anyone chosen for the shoot on October 4 and 5 will pocket $500 and get to see their feet (and gorgeous selves in studio) in a campaign to promote Sebago’s high-quality leather boat shoes and loafers.
When US News & World Report recently released its new rankings for the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in the country, RISD earned second place for its fine arts programs overall (just behind Yale).
The rankings are based on a variety of data, including assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, alumni giving and graduation rates.
As terrifying Ebola news continues to stream out of West Africa, recently appointed executive director of the GAIA Vaccine Foundation Eliza Squibb 13 TX (above, left) reports that the organization is making strides in Mali in the fight against HPV and cervical cancer, with plans to help publicize the risk of the Ebola virus as well.
Given that GAIA’s clinic in Bamako, Mali is having great success with the educational textile Squibb designed in 2012 to encourage HPV vaccinations, it plans to take a similar approach to educating villagers about Ebola. Fortunately, no cases of the deadly disease have been reported yet in Mali.
“Crowded into a small room with over 30 women,” Squibb writes, “it was overwhelming to hear such positive responses to the pattern I designed while I was still a student. The (94-year-old) village chief even came up with a slogan in Bambara that we can add to the design: “It’s better to prevent than cure.”
Jacqueline Siefert 12 AP is more than just a pretty face. When she competes in the Miss Rhode Island USA Pageant this weekend at the RI Convention Center, she’ll be wearing her own designs – from swimsuit to evening gown to jewelry. “I’m definitely going to play up the RISD connection,” she says, “and the fact that I made my own wardrobe!”
Siefert was a finalist in the Supima Cotton Competition at New York Fashion Week in 2012, where she showed five stunning eveningwear looks (above). The winner of the Miss Rhode Island Pageant will go on to compete in the Miss USA pageant in 2015.
Thanks to support from a Sundance Institute Production Grant, recent graduate RaMell Ross MFA 14 PH was able to hop on a plane to Iceland over the summer to meet with Alex Somers and fellow Photography MFA grad Scott Alario MFA 13 PH (above). He has commissioned the music duo (who used to be bandmates in the group Parachutes) to create an original soundtrack for Hale County, his feature-length documentary about the lives of two young African-American men growing up in Alabama.
“I wanted the compositions to be sparse and atmospheric,” Ross says – “a perfect backdrop to the textured visuals in the film that amplify injustice, ambition and the impact of social stratification.”
Somers and Alario certainly have the repertoire to make audio magic. The creative team has been known to collaborate with international sensations Sigur Ros and other famous acts in Somers’ Reykjavík recording studio. “Our music is sort of naive and fragile and gentle,” notes Somers. “We’ll use old, crusty cassettes to record mixes so the sound [quality] is really low-fi and blown out.”
Somers admits they were initially surprised when Ross expressed interest in their delicate compositions. “At first I thought it was a really odd pairing: our type of music and this story about urban street kids,” he says. “But then I understood RaMell’s vision. When these two forms of art come together, it creates an intensely emotional experience for the viewer.”
After digging out a huge chest stocked with a vibraphone, harmonica, drums, bells and toy microphones, the musicians spent a week in July working practically nonstop on the beautiful recordings. Ross will later edit down his final footage to fit the flow of the music.
“We did play with some percussive sequences – but we shied away from including too much rhythm,” notes Somers. “We didn’t want to distract viewers away from the action on screen.”
Find out more about the film in progress in this story on risd.edu.
Last Saturday campus was crawling with Orientation Leaders and other upperclass students ready to help new students move in to their temporary digs at RISD. The day was as wonderfully welcoming and joyfully chaotic as ever.
Resident Assistants helped the 451 freshmen who moved into the Quad begin to get oriented, if not quite “settled” in these first exciting days.
Bold new signage throughout campus helped direct incoming students and their families to where they needed to be.
And The Met – RISD’s main dining hall – looked better than ever, with a newly refurbished interior and new seating for outdoors, too.
photos by Antonio Peters 04 IL
President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID was among the many RISD administrators and staff members on hand to welcome new students, who – as always – come from close to campus and the far reaches of the world.
As part of getting the year off to a good start, students who arrived early to participate in last week’s Pre-Orientation Service Experience volunteered in the community as a way of getting to know RISD, its environment and most importantly, each other.