Biennial Bojagi Forum

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Chunghie Lee’s wearable Blue Durumagi

Designers from around the world are convening from this Sunday, August 24 through Thursday, August 28 for the 2014 Korea Bojagi Forum on Jeju Island, off the southern coast of Korea. The forum will include an exhibition of work by more than 100 artists inspired by bojagi, the traditional Korean patchwork cloths dating back as far as the 15th century.

RISD Textiles Critic Chunghie Lee, who has been a strong proponent of bojagi here in the US, is directing the forum and will show her own work along with 10 Seam Variations, a collaborative piece created by RISD students. Among the lecturers at the gathering are Assistant Professor Mary Anne Friel, graduate program director in Textiles, and Continuing Ed instructor Jiyoung Chung 02 PT.

Sherman Shapes New Looks

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Known for developing original artwork as the essence of branding, longtime Illustration faculty member Oren Sherman 78 IL recently struck licensing deals with Brintons Carpets, SK Linens and Keka, a company that creates iPhone and iPad covers. Through eye-catching designs like his Passionate Paisley he plans to create an inspiring “cross-platform, one-stop collection.”

Food (+Drink) for Thought

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On her visually appealing and very satisfying site Salad for President, NYC-based artist/photographer Julia Sherman 06 PH taps into our abiding interest in good food and curiosity about other people’s kitchens and taste. She’s clearly comfortable chatting with, cooking and sharing recipes made by her interesting circle of friends – artists, designers, restaurateurs and fellow makers.

In a recent post Sherman features a recipe for Dike Blair’s Fresh Bloody Mary along with luscious imagery and a great interview with longtime RISD Painting faculty member Dike Blair.

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“If you are lucky, you had a professor or a mentor at some point in your life who took a particular interest in you, who both treated you like a peer and expected you to live up to their standards at the same time – someone whose attention felt so valuable, you didn’t quite know what you had done to deserve it,” Sherman writes in introducing the Q+A with Blair, who has played that role in her life.

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At one point in the interview, Sherman asks Blair if “there is enough cynicism in art school… since the truth is, there just isn’t room for us all in the market of the ‘professional’ art world.”

Blair’s response: “I think one needs to know that the odds of being commercially successful [as a fine artist] are extremely long. That’s not really cynical, it’s realistic.” He also points out that in his teaching – especially at the graduate level – he emphasizes “the desirability of developing a ‘practice’ that is compelling enough to pursue without tangible reward.”

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gouache and paper on pencil piece by Dike Blair

 

Tonight’s Design the Night event (5–9 pm) at the RISD Museum celebrates the new Circus exhibition, which brings the big top to vivid life – from the magic of the center ring to the seediness lurking behind the scenes. A big-top tent designed by recent grads Matthew Muller 14 FD and August Lehrecke 14 FD promises to please the crowds this evening, as will jugglers, stilt walkers and a special tour of the show led by curator Alison Chang.

On view through February 22, Circus features (pictured above, top to bottom) James Jacques Joseph Tissot’s The Women of the Chariots (1883–85, oil on canvas); Henri Matisse’s The Nightmare of the White Elephant (1947, color pochoir on paper); 10 sinister 1922 etchings by Max Beckmann, including Dressing Room and Shooting Gallery; and Charles Demuth’s buoyant Bicyclists (1916–17, watercolor and pencil on paper).

Coming Home to Drawing

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“Drawing is the bedrock of everything I do,” says Susan Stillman 78 IL, who has illustrated several books and created hundreds of editorial illustrations for Esquire, The New York Times and countless other clients. In addition to teaching at Parsons, she also runs a business called Home Portraits, painting the personalities of individual homes on commission.

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“While my painting has focused on the landscape for so many years, my love of drawing the figure has continued to be fueled through the classes I teach – from life studies and from museum visits to draw from sculpture,” Stillman says. 

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After years of keeping her sketches “confined in sketchbooks stacked on a shelf,” Stillman says she was inspired to share a few samples of her own after seeing “what the community is doing” through RISD XYZ and XYZmail.

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Loving Obsession

To mark yesterday’s release of the latest Feltron Annual Report, the New York Times posted this great video interview with Nicholas Felton 99 GD as part of a story called A Life in Data: Nicholas Felton’s Self-Surveillance.

In designing the presentation of his personal doings in 2013, Felton “gathered 94,824 data points, including content and metadata from 44,041 text messages, 31,769 emails and 4,511 Facebook messages. He also tracked the 1,719 pieces of physical mail he sent and received, and documented the 12,464 face-to-face conversations he had.”

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In the end, Felton told the Times that his wonderfully obsessive and very literal self-analysis leads him to conclude that he needs “to do a better job of engaging in more meaningful communication and spend less time with trivial email and social media.” Sounds like sound advice for us all.

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Act Fast to Cast Your Vote …

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Now that DesignIntelligence is conducting its annual online survey of America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools, it’s not too late to cast your vote for RISD. The survey for hiring design professionals and firms closes this Friday, August 22, and the student survey closes the following Friday, August 29.

Survey results are used to rank US-based departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture and Industrial Design. RISD made the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Top 10 in undergraduate Architecture programs.

RISD Portland recently enjoyed a summertime respite at the Pacific Northwest College of the Arts' newly minted ArtHouse space, with the help of PNCA Board Member and honorary RISD Trustee Anthony Belluschi BArch 66 (top photo, center) and Jane Savage 91 ID.  

Thanks also to Karen Lee 13 TX for organizational efforts and Coon Lam 01 GD for invitation design, as well as Lever Architecture for use of the rendering.

NEA Chair Jane Chu Visits RISD

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Jane Chu enjoyed a brief tour of selected highlights at RISD.

Yesterday, August 18, leaders of the RISD community welcomed several special guests to campus: Jane Chu, recently appointed chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), US Senator Jack Reed  (D-RI) and Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

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As Board Chair Michael Spalter, Provost Pradeep Sharma and Museum Director John Smith greeted the group in the Chace Center, Sharma talked about RISD’s STEAM initiative, explaining how it inextricably links innovation, collaboration and technology within a clear social context.

In providing Chairman Chu with historical background on the STEAM movement, Vice Provost Carol Strohecker noted that since 2010 the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been working with the NEA and an international community of researchers, educators and leaders to revitalize ailing economies. 

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Associate Vice President Greg Victory offered concrete examples of how current students make an impact well beyond the typical realms of art and design, citing the work being done by recipients of the Maharam STEAM Fellowship in Applied Art and Design. “They’re able to have a real impact because they’re not afraid to pose questions and take risks,” Victory noted.

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Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Cas Holman demonstrated her Rigamajig building kit for kids, explaining to Chairman Chu and Senator Reed that the role of designers in the STEAM movement is to “enrich and contextualize” the other disciplines. What’s important for educators working with her kit, she noted, is not so much the things that kids create with it, but the act of freeform making itself.

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RISD Board Chair Michael Spalter listens intently as NEA Chair Jane Chu responds to what she’s seeing during her visit to campus.

Chairman Chu expressed interest in how the Rigamajig is used in classrooms and also in the notion of object-based inquiry introduced by Assistant Dean of Faculty Tracie Costantino.

After the informal gathering at the Chace Center, the group enjoyed a quick tour of the Nature Lab led by Director Neal Overstrom and a demonstration of RISD’s ever-inspiring electronic jacquard loom. 

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all photos by David O’Connor

Colbert Ready to Share?

When Brian Chesky 04 ID made a guest appearance on The Colbert Report last week, Stephen Colbert welcomed him by asking the difference between “Airbnb and, uh, just home prostitution.” He also took the opportunity to spoof “the sharing economy” that Chesky and his business partner Joe Gebbia 05 GD/ID are often credited with helping to jumpstart.

Vote for RISD’s Proposed Panels at SXSWedu

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Now that plans are in the works for the 2015 SXSWedu Conference, organizers are asking online voters to help pick the best proposals for panel discussions. Interim President Rosanne Somerson and several other RISD people have made proposals covering various aspects of art and design education, so please go to the SXSW PanelPicker to help get them on the agenda in Austin (the conference runs from March 9–12, 2015).

Somerson has proposed a talk on the impact of critical making, while Chief of Staff Mara Hermano and Assistant Dean of Faculty Tracie Costantino are working on an interactive panel called Visualizing Critique. If you’re attending the conference and would like to hear more about entrepreneurship, activism and education, vote for the panel proposed by Dean of Liberal Arts Dan Cavicchi, Industrial Design Critic Bill Foulkes, HPSS Department Head Damian White and Assistant Professor Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino. And finally, consider casting a vote for Industrial Design grad student Mariya Sitnova’s proposal on 3D technology in education.

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(Anonymous) voting is open until September 5, and the public is also welcome to submit notes and comments on any of the more than 1,000 panel ideas that have been submitted. Community voting accounts for 30% of the final scheduling decisions (to be announced in October), so make your picks now!

Transformation of ISB Continues

A little over a year after breaking ground, the renovation of the Illustration Studies Building is moving along on schedule, with the addition of a slender glass tower on the east face of the building and massive amounts of interior work continuing this summer.

“The project is coming along beautifully,” affirms Department Head Rob Brinkerhoff. While the building remained in use during the 13/14 academic year, construction work continued in the addition.

This summer workers are tearing out the old bathrooms and stairwell in the main building and installing ductwork for the new HVAC systems.

Fundraising continues to keep the project on track, but if all goes as planned, Brinkerhoff says that by next fall (2015) “we’ll have what amounts to a brand new building, more working space and – most importantly – an appropriate home for the 300 students and 43 faculty members who make up the largest departmental community at RISD.”

Providence-based jewelry maker Priya Himatsingka 00 JM has launched an updated website to promote her sizable collection of elegant, handmade pieces made of silver, high-karat gold and diamonds. Born in India to a family of textile designers, Hamatsingka studied at Parsons and NYU before coming to RISD. Her beautifully understated necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings are available online, through wholesale distribution and at scores of stores throughout the country.

Controlled Chaos Coming Soon

imageSunset Overdrive is all about fun in the end times and I wanted to reflect that in the art style,” notes art director Jacinda Chew 99 IL in a recent interview. She’s speaking about the latest computer game she has been developing with the team at Insomniac Games in California.

imageThe Insomniac team is in overdrive itself as artists and developers work to finalize a bazillion details before the game releases this fall. In this video (below), Chew talks about street fashion, the thinking behind the character development, questions of diversity and why she feels Sunset Overdrive will appeal to an international audience.

Chew also says that in developing the apocalyptic environments, she looked to some of Havana’s old buildings for inspiration, noting that she loves “how the peeling paint and plaster would often reveal other colors underneath. This eventually made it into our game as brushstrokes that are splashed onto the asphalt, buildings and even clothes. Not only did I want the world to be a happy place full of vibrant color, but a place where you didn’t have to follow any rules. This is why we didn’t bother to paint within the lines. It’s controlled chaos.”

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When asked which game character she’d most like to be, Chew doesn’t skip a beat before responding: “I’d be Bunny Girl all the way.” 

Rising Interest in RocketSkates

After dreaming about motorized skates for nearly a decade, Peter Treadway 96 ID is about to see his dream come true thanks to a phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign. His California-based startup ACTON launched the campaign to raise $50K for the initial run of RocketSkates™, but has already brought in more than $445K in pledges. “I developed 50 or 60 prototypes,” the designer says, “and now we’ve finally got the product rolling, literally and figuratively.”

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The lightweight electric skates attach to shoes and propel the skater along at up to 12 mph. Three models will be available (with increasing range and run times before a battery recharge is needed) at prices ranging from $499 to $699. Skaters use their feet to kick off, tilt forward to accelerate and backward to slow down.

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RocketSkates have been generating a lot of buzz on tech-savvy media outlets such as the BBC Newsletter and engadget.com, and have been highlighted on a number of TV news shows. As Treadway explained to a Fox news reporter, the objective is to get people out of their cars for local errands and spins around town.