There are a gazillion good ways to give this holiday season, but if you’re looking for ways to both give and support culture, creativity, peace and RISD artists and designers in particular, here are a few options to consider:
• Contribute to Zeitouna, a nonprofit cofounded by Lina Sergie Attar MArch 01 to help Syria’s displaced children through art workshops and positive role models. Lina is working with kids at a Syrian refugee camp this month and welcomes donations of time, talent and art supplies so that she can continue these efforts in 2014.
• Support aptART, a similar organization that uses art as a means of helping vulnerable kids all over the world cope with difficult situations. Max Frieder 12 PT is involved with this group and has partnered with Zeitouna for the current outreach effort in Syria. Keep an eye on his Facebook posts to see the positive benefits of art in action.
Help Rhode Island-based arts organizations such as:
• The Steel Yard, where contributions of $$, time and stuff are always welcomed by the many alums and others who help keep the place thriving.
• The Jamestown Art Center (where Kate Petrie BArch 87 is a founder and Associate VP for Student Affairs Greg Victory is on the board) on the exquisite island in Narragansett Bay, where memberships make for a great gift. They’ve also got a Holiday Artsmarket happening this weekend.
And there are plenty of opportunities to do good things at and for RISD, too, of course:
• Give the gift of a RISD | CE course, workshop, vacation camp or other artful event.
• Give to the RISD Annual Fund to help current students. And in case it’s not obvious, if you do it by the end of the month, you can take it as a 2013 tax write-off.
Thirty percent of proceeds go to fund Migrating Murals and its nonprofit partner, the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association – both of which are dedicated to supporting and protecting the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, a gorgeous beast that doesn’t deserve to go the way of the dodo.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Phoebe Wahl 13 IL naturally gravitates towards finding the beauty in people and nature (as the sketchbook pages above and below indicate).
There’s also a very natural connection between the images she plays with in her sketchbooks and the holiday cards and prints she markets via her Etsy shop.
Wahl recently teamed up with fellow alum Julia Rothman 02 IL to create the piece below for Rothman’s next group book project The Who, the What and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Accomplices of History (Chronicle Books).
On her blog, Wahl writes:
I was assigned [to illustrate] Maurice Sendak’s brother Jack, a writer, collaborator and extremely important figure in Maurice’s life. I can really relate to those magical, safe spaces siblings create together. My own sister has been such a big source of inspiration [that] I quite literally don’t know who I would be without her.
Through her NYC-based business byAMT, designer Alissia Melka-Teichroew MID 04 offers a range of items good for giving.
Take her inside-out champagne glasses – lovely and a lot more stable than most.
Or her interesting and inexpensive acrylic Signet Rings in clear, black and red.
This season byAMT’s appealing leather strap baskets are available through her shop and at the MoMA Design Store.
In addition, Melka-Teichroew’s clever Jointed Jewels– a series of jewelry made using 3D printing – is on view through July at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC. In conjunction with the show, MAD made this video of her and her Dutch designer husband talking about the nature of design and of working in the same studio with a highly opinionated design partner.
So What Space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn provides yet another example of the great creative energy RISD alumni generate when they come together. Launched last January, the shared studio space and adjacent gallery is run by Kate Fox 12 PR, Ester Kislin 12 CR, Nicky Marino 12 PR and Katie Stout 12 FD.
Timed to coincide with the biggest shopping season of the year, the collective’s current show Thank You Come Again! presents the work of 70-odd artists – most of them RISD grads – in a wide range of media. The gallery is set up like a store and stocked with small handmade baggies filled with pieces created by the artists involved. “I am very interested in how people see objects when there is the possibility of ownership and the challenge to decide which one is theirs,” says LA-based exhibit co-curator Alex Boberg 12 PT. “We all think so much about buying and define our identities by what we buy.”
Boberg (who curated the show with Paige Hinshaw 12 PR) created little fish for his baggies and says that some of the bestselling pieces are concrete necklaces by Blanca Guerrero12 PR and teeny handpainted skill ball games by Sarah Smiley 12 PT. All of the artists involved made things to mimic the consumer products “that encircle us, in order to investigate the ambiguous boundary between commodity and art object.”
…including this festive Yule Town Dish Set, with rectangular plates (that you can line up like a row house, if you’re so moved)…
… graphic coir door mats, sweet wooden ornaments and more.
In fact, Rothman’s illustrations and lettering are all over the Crate & Barrel site this month, whether it’s her design for holiday invitations or the gateway to the company’s holiday sitelet The Tree Lot.
In the latest issue of RISD XYZ, we ran this image from the RISD Archives showing the late great ID professor Marc Harrison (to the far right)…
and asking alums to help us figure out the project at hand. So far, the challenge has elicited this much-welcomed hypothesis from Per O. Hoel BID 74 writing from Gloucester, MA:
Hello RISD XYZ,
Apparently the photograph on page 64 of the Fall/Winter 2013/14 issue has you stumped. I’m writing to provide information which may help solve the mystery. In my sophomore year I was attempting to pursue both Architecture and Industrial Design. In an architectural structures class each of us was given the task of designing and constructing a personal, portable shelter using corrugated cardboard as the primary material.
After the shelters were completed, we had to put them to use for a (long, cold) night out at Tillinghast Farm in Barrington. I’m the fellow in the red/white striped shirt shown setting up one of my shelter’s three configurations.
Prior to transporting my shelter to the farm, I took a few pictures of it on the RISD lawn along Benefit Street [aka the RISD Beach].
Although the photo of Marc from 1964 is from before my time at RISD, I have to assume that given the interest I know he had in structures (leading years later to the ILZRO house, for example – see Fall/Winter 12/13 issue of RISD XYZ) that he is pictured poking out from within some sort of collapsible shelter.
Marc was one of my professors and a friend who I know often collaborated with and influenced the architecture faculty. I remember that Kent Keegan was my instructor for the portable shelter project and think he may have been reliving history, so to speak.
Please pipe up via email@example.com if you know the names of the two unidentified people in the top photo or have stories and/or old photos of your own RISD shelter projects you’d like to share.
Prolific Providence-based artist Carolina Arentsen 91 IL is showing collages, scratch paintings, stuffed animals and more as part of the first holiday exhibit and sale at trendy (gallerie ellipsis) in Newport, RI. The show runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 22 and gives holiday shoppers the opportunity to find original works of art for under $200. Dozens of artists are showing, offering everything from jewelry, photography and ceramics to textiles, stained glass and furniture.
When the Migrating Form festival opens at BAMcinématek in Brooklyn tomorrow, New York Times art critic and RISD honorary degree recipient Roberta Smith will introduce four shorts by Ryan Trecartin 04 FAV, an artist she predicts is “bound for greatness.”
The Trecartin films being screened at the edgy NY festival are from his latest Not Yet Titled videos, which premiered earlier this year at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Some words of advice from start-up entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian to aspiring leaders: don’t ask for permission before putting an idea in motion. The co-founder of the insanely popular Reddit.com – an online hub where users upload their own content – visited Brown on Friday night to explain that it doesn’t take more than a laptop, an Internet connection and some imagination to create real change.
“The reason why I was able to get [Reddit] started is because of the permission-less innovation that exists on the Internet. I’m proof that you can create a website in your dorm room – and seven years later it’s one of the most popular websites on the planet,” explained Ohanian. “There is so much already happening and so much more to come.”
More than 200 people attended the packed lecture hosted by students in Brown’s Entrepreneurship Program and RISD’s E’Ship, a student club that helps students locate resources to support their own ambitious ventures. Ohanian is now on tour to promote his book Without Their Permission, an inspirational story that chronicles his successes.
To further his point, he referenced Humans of New York, a compelling photo blog that features gritty portraits of the city’s inhabitants. The “photographic census” has nearly one million followers on Facebook and Tumblr. Ohanian plans to visit RISD after the New Year to host a workshop on creative business practices.
“Alexis showed the RISD and Brown communities that there are creative people changing the world through failure, iteration and making,” noted Ryan Murphy 15 ID, one of the founders of E’Ship. “It was really encouraging to hear that we should’t be afraid to go after our passions.”
Sisters-in-law Dana and Deborah Gitell originally coined the term (and even copyrighted it), creating a Facebook page that eventually went viral. When they brought Kim on to help with the visuals, her revamp of American Gothic ended up in Time, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, USA Today and Haaretz in Israel. As befits this once-in-70,000-year concatenation, Thanksgivukkah culminated in a festival on November 29th at Pico Union, a community space that happens to be Los Angeles’ oldest synagogue.
Assuming you’re not in the neighborhood and able to drop by either event, there’s always the possibility of buying the book – for yourself or anyone who already loves the vibrant city or would appreciate understanding it at a deeper level.
Although Italy’s economy is still suffering, the northern Italian design firm Experientia – headed by founding partner Jan-Christophe Zoels MID 93 – has been working on a number of exciting projects near their home base and elsewhere around the world. According to Zoels, jobs taken on by the 30-person firm “are diverse but always involve deep integration of user research and service design.” Experientia’s designers recently worked with Intel on the future of healthcare services and launched a user-friendly ATM for Italy’s largest bank UniCredit.
Among the most mindboggling projects Experientia is engaged in is one led by Amsterdam-based architectural firm UNStudio. Through the massive Giant Observation Wheel or Nippon Moon project, the two firms are giving the Ferris wheel its first major makeover since it was introduced in 1893. The project fuses architecture and digital media to create a wild ride for future users in a yet-to-be-named Japanese city.
Rather than sitting in small, metal capsules, riders on the new wheel will board large, oblong, glass-enclosed pods enhanced with “augmented reality” technology that will allow them to communicate with riders in other pods and watch video images superimposed over the view outside.
Each of the 32 pods will offer a different theme. After downloading a dedicated app for smartphones and tablets, users will be able to introduce animations and sounds that enhance the theme or initiate virtual realities using the pod’s walls. The rich, layered experience should keep riders busy as the giant wheel spins, taking a full 40 minutes to complete each rotation.
Students in Rhonda Fargnoli’s Continuing Education (CE) knitting classes get hands-on experience creating patterns, designing yarns and working within the parameters of the professional knitting world. “Rhonda has an amazing rapport with her students,” says Margery Winter 69 PT/MAT 73, director of yarn development at Lion Brand Yarns, one of the oldest and largest distributors in the industry. “She is very nurturing and enthusiastic in her approach.”
Ann Faith and other CE knitting students frequently present their patterns to industry professionals.
Winter recently returned to RISD to speak to students in two of Fargnoli’s classes: Creating Original Designs and Patterns and Drawing for the Knitting Designer. Given her role at Lion Brand (which was founded in 1878 – a year after RISD ), she is eager to connect CE’s budding designers with the company’s creative director, giving students the real-world experience they crave. “Lion Brand has always been interested in supporting education,” says Winter, former editor-in-chief at Vogue Knitting.
RISD | CE is the only program of its kind that offers a Hand Knitting Design Certificate, Fargnoli explains. “Our students work with professional guidelines to solve problems and create patterns, along with finished pieces. It’s so great when people from the industry take the time to work with them.”
First Christmas, the latest holiday card from Sandy Lounsbury Foose 64 GD, is proving to be a 2013 “Best Seller” at the MoMA Store. The designer and lifelong lover of paper has been designing holiday cards for many years and has had a good run of 3D favorites sold by MoMA.
Earlier today the RISD Board of Trustees held a special meeting, at the beginning of which we observed a moment of silence in honor of Nelson Mandela. We also took a moment to reflect upon one of his most powerful statements:
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
Provost Somerson, who was named provost after an international search in 2012, has deep roots at RISD as a student, professor and academic leader and we are deeply appreciative of her willingness to lead our institution at this time. We have every confidence that she will, in continued partnership with Chief Operating Officer Jean Eddy and the Cabinet, ensure that our institution continues to advance seamlessly.
In its commitment to inclusivity, transparency and open communication, the Board will keep the community apprised as we begin the search for the institution’s 17th president in January.
Alex Wolf 88 SC, who describes herself as an artist and designer who is also a “science nerd and nature geek,” is excited to announce her new nature-inspired learning tool – a board game called Ani-gram-it, which she says is “an addictive, smart, beautifully designed ‘crossword’ style game, using body parts (not letters) to make animals (not words).”
Wolf is still looking for additional funding to bring the game to a wider audience. She welcomes support through Plum Alley, where backers at the $25 level will get the card version of Ani-gram-it and those at the $75 level will receive the full board game (both in time for Christmas).
With a digital version already in the works, Ani-gram-it is part of a joint event between Plum Alley and Tekserve at today’s NYTechMeetup.
On Saturday, November 23, Professor of Painting Dennis Congdon 75 PT (second from right) and Director of Global Partners & Programs Gwen Farrelly met in NYC with members of Raqs Media Collective from New Delhi, India.
Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh will spend two days at RISD this spring as the first Kirloskar Visiting Scholar and will return to teach a Painting seminar during the fall 2014 semester.
After the Advisory Group meeting in November, Congdon and Sikander enjoyed attending Raq’s performance at Performa 13, which confirmed why they’re excitedly looking forward to welcoming the Media Collective to RISD in 2015.
In my role as the Chairman of the Board, I want to share with you news about our President John Maeda. He has informed me that he will be leaving our cherished, 136-year-old institution at the end of the semester for an exciting opportunity in Silicon Valley where he will become a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and also chair the eBay Design Advisory Board, beginning in January 2014.
I would like to congratulate President Maeda on his new appointments and wish him every success. I am delighted that he will continue to be an advocate for creativity and a leader at the intersection of design, technology and business.
President Maeda has been a visionary, passionate and tireless leader for RISD over the past six years and for that I extend a heartfelt thank you on behalf of our community. He has advanced not only our institution but also the role of art and design in the 21st century global economy. President Maeda leaves RISD stronger than ever before – a global community of more than 30,000 thinkers and makers who are changing the world through their vision, their work, and their creative passion.
Rhode Island School of Design’s Board of Trustees will take the appropriate next steps to ensure a smooth and orderly transition. The Board will work closely with our extraordinary, seasoned and talented leadership team – Provost Rosanne Somerson and Chief Operating Officer Jean Eddy. In its commitment to inclusivity, transparency, and open communication, the Board will keep the community apprised as we move ahead together.
Six years after the campus community first met John Maedavia video, the president shared this new video today to announce that he’s moving on next month to assume a new position in Silicon Valley. Chairman of the Board Michael Spalter promises to “keep the community apprised [of next steps] as we move ahead together.”
When Marguerite Kahrl MFA 95 SC and her husband Christoph Zoels MID 93 moved into their home near Turin in northern Italy, the former residents greeted them with a corredo (traditional dowry chest) filled with antique, hand-woven textiles made from linen and locally grown hemp. The gift inspired Kahrl to create a series of fabulous 3D sculptural busts she calls her Noble Savages.
The potent, earthy sculptures are based on Los Caprichos, 18th-century etchings and aquaprints by Francesco Goya. “My decision to use hemp textiles for the sculptural portraits came from a desire to combine the warmth and intimacy of the fabrics with Goya’s monstrous and exaggeratedly self-important characters,” says the artist.
Kahrl’s ongoing series encompasses dozens of sculptures as well as drawings, bronzes and photographs. She’s currently wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign to fund a limited-edition catalogue to document the work. If you’re interested, act fast since tomorrow (Thursday, December 5) is the final day of the campaign!
Thanks in part to the efforts of Fulbright Student Program Advisor Dorothy Bocian, RISD has once again been named a top producer of Fulbright scholars among art and design schools. As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, RISD and MICA were the top two producers among Specialized Institutions for 2013–14.
“Of course, we’re very proud of these students,” says Bocian, “and also of the other 16 applicants who were not awarded grants. The application process itself is an amazing learning experience and one that frequently contributes to a solid career path.”
Though RISD’s most recent Fulbright scholars focus on a range of disciplines – Joseph Vasquez MFA 13 PR on printmaking, Chris Wolston 09 GL on sculpture, Andrew Fladeboe 06 PH on photography and Jessica Paik 13 PT on painting and printmaking – they are all working as cultural ambassadors, helping to build mutual respect and understanding between the US and other countries around the world.
Professor of Architecture Gabriel Feld(second from left), Dean of Foundation Studies Joanne Stryker (far right) and Director of Global Partners & Programs Gwen Farrelly recently traveled to Istanbul to meet with potential partners and prospective students, along with a member of RISD’s Parents’ Council.
The trio from RISD also enjoyed an evening with a number of alumni when Leyla Tara Suyabatmaz BArch 89 hosted a festive event at Rampa, her contemporary gallery.
“We are incredibly grateful to all of our Turkey-based alumni and friends for guiding us through the incredible city of Istanbul and ensuring that we got a good taste of the city’s vibrant cultural life,” Farrelly says. “We also found it very rewarding to learn about the incredible things RISD alumni are doing all over the world.”
Interior Architecture Critic Pari Riahi, an architect based in Amherst, MA, recently took first prize in small lot | BIG IDEAS, a juried competition co-sponsored by the city of Northampton, MA. The goal of the competition was to enhance small, odd-shaped building lots in urban neighborhoods throughout the city. Riahi’s bright, efficient one-family Luminous House stood out among the 23 entries because it demonstrates the best use of the site for which it was designed.
In order to maximize the limited space, Riahi’s team (which included RISD undergrad So Eun LeeBArch 14) built up – using a beautiful contemporary staircase – and took advantage of the site’s northern views of nearby conservation land via a continuous series of clerestories that also flood the space with natural light. “We designed a linear staircase that acts as a spine for both floors and gives the long, narrow space direction,” says Riahi. “The judges appreciated how well it’s integrated into the life of the house.”
Gwen Farrelly, RISD’s director of Global Partners and Programs, and Vice Provost Carol Strohecker recently returned from a visit to the European Honors Program (EHP) in Rome, where they were warmly welcomed by EHP Director Ezio Genovesi and Chief Critic Mairéad Byrne.
“During our visit to the Palazetto Cenci, EHP students generously welcomed us to their reviews,” Farrelly says. “We were delighted to witness so much fresh work and new perspectives on Rome.”
They also enjoyed listening in on the discussions led by visiting critics, including the four artists in residence at MACRO museum Jacopo Miliano, Riccardo Beretta, Hilla Ben Ari and Sahej Rahal, as well as Dan Hurlin, the current fellow at the American Academy, and Rome-based artist Roberto Mannino 80 SC.
“Carol and I are delighted to report that RISD’s program in Rome – the oldest US art and design program in Italy – is home to a thriving community of artists, poets, writers, performers and critics this semester,” Farrelly concludes.
London-based architects Niccolo Casas of The Bartlett and Ludovico Lombardi of LDVC and Zaha-Hadid Architects taught the course, with help from Associate Professor Catherine Andreozzi, head of Apparel Design, and TA Maria Canada 13 AP, who introduced students to basic draping and patternmaking techniques as a means of better understanding the relationship of form to the human body.
Maria Canada 13 AP produced this piece during the summer RISD|CE course called Bodyscapes.
The Nature Lab’s high-end microscopes proved to be an invaluable resource in helping students to better understand natural form and structure. In the end, their body-centric designs were produced in resin using 3D printers.
When Lindsay Degen 10 TX first agreed to design a collection for the upcoming Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show – which airs on Tuesday, December 10 on CBS – she’d never seen the show on TV. But a team from Victoria’s Secret had seen her – consulting at a knitwear factory wearing “a onesie with a yellow loopy knitting technique and an oversized sweater.”
Based on her look and the quality of the knitwear she wore, the VS designers invited her to design for this year’s show – which is expected to be seen by more than 9 million people.
Degen was given two months to deliver a rough draft of her proposed collection and another month to make adjustments to her collection of nine outfits. A week before the taping, she was in New York for the first fitting on live models when Cosmopolitandropped in for some behind-the-scenes coverage.
Degen is especially happy that some of the techniques she developed in creating this one-off collection of VS – like a bodysuit knit with fishing line – are likely to find their way into her own work.
And despite designing for a mainstream audience, she wasn’t particularly concerned. “People think my style is a little weird, but my whole idea is making it accessible,” she told Cosmopolitan. “I don’t want to be pretentious. I want people to have fun.”
The award-winning creator of such keepers as Antenna, Biscotti, Ibis, Prensa, Quiosco, Receiver and many more typefaces packs a lot in a little with his latest posts.
Sweet little surprises pop up almost every day, like this apple – from another new surprise from Highsmith: Apple Bear Cart, his first children’s book. Not surprisingly, it’s an alphabet book full of cool cats and other great finds – all made to delight his 3-year-old daughter (and presumably perfect for any toddlers on your gift-giving list).
Find more of Highsmith’s work on Occupant, his main site.
As Danny Kim 09 ID and his San Francisco-based company Lit Motors continue to develop the C-1, a viable self-balancing electric motorcyle they’ve been developing for several years, they also just announced a sweet side project – a scooter called kubo.
Kim and co. are running an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to try to raise $300,000 to develop this other clever little electric vehicle, which combines the design allure of “Apple & Vespa with the basic utility of a pick-up truck.”
The cute kubo can buzz along at 45 mph (tops) for a full 50 miles on a single charge. It features little hooks on the floorboard for strapping on cargo and can carry up to 300 lbs. between you and your stuff.
If you’ve got big-time scooter lust and can cough up $10K, you can be one of the first five owners in the world to hit the streets on the thing – as early as next spring. And you even get to choose a custom color as the prototype is being built.
Of course, you can also just support the kubo at the “this is rad” or “I’m naked” levels and settle for a t-shirt instead.
Recent grad Wael Morcos MFA 13 GD is among the “37 boundary-breaking talents” selected by the Art Directors Club for its 2013 class of Young Guns. On November 7 he happily collected his ADC Young Guns Award at a celebratory event in NYC.
The well-deserved honor bodes well for Morcos as he makes his way in the competitive design world. Last winter, while still a student, he represented RISD at the international Design Indaba conference in South Africa. He now lives and works in NYC.
Providence isn’t the only city to reinvigorate its downtown by uncovering a naturally flowing river. The city of Columbus, GA just completed a 10-year, multimillion dollar project to remove a series of Civil War–era dams that once powered Columbus’ booming textiles industry. In the process, a 2.5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River was returned to its natural state, creating the world’s longest urban whitewater run.
In documenting the controversial project, filmmaker Rhett Turner 98 PH(Red Sky Productions) followed the story from the very start. His comprehensive one-hour film, Chattahoochee Unplugged (narrated by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame), tells the story of how the decades-old dream of conservationists and kayakers alike was finally realized. It’s actually Turner’s second look at the southeastern river. The Emmy award-winning Chattahoochee: From Water War to Water Vision (2010) focused on the 20-year battle over water rights among the states of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
Turner’s focus on environmental stewardship also includes work with the International Crane Foundation, and he contributed camera work to An Original DUCKumentary, which aired on the PBS show Nature late last year.
Dean of Architecture + Design Pradeep Sharmaco-organized All Over the Place, the 2013 administrators conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. When participants met at RISD from November 14–16, they continued ongoing discussions about the rapidly evolving field of architecture and how architectural education is adapting to meet changing demands.
Since the focus of the organization is on dialogue and cross-pollination of ideas, the opening session eschewed a keynote speaker in favor of a two-pronged approach featuring a discussion of digitally intelligent architecture by Mario Carpo, Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History at the Yale School of Architecture, and a behind-the-scenes look at some incredible work taking place in Rwanda under the leadership of young maverick Michael Murphy, the CEO of Boston’s nonprofit MASS Design Group.