Having lived in Istanbul for the past four years, Samantha Zaza 00 IL has been totally swept up in the activism on the streets in recent weeks. As something of a natural journalist, she has been writing about, photographing and drawing recent events in Gezi Park and Taksim Square, sharing news of the volatile situation on her blog, Harika, and via Facebook and Twitter.
Just before Samantha left the country for a weekend in Beirut, she sent a few photos and images from her sketchbook. “I live a 2-minute walk from Gezi Park and Taksim Square,” she emailed.“Our neighborhood is barricaded up, and it looks like a war zone.”
“On May 31st, Talimhane was really intense. I was shot in the foot with a teargas canister by some police (thankfully I was wearing thick hiking boots and not the Converses I had been wearing earlier, or I would have broken my foot) and my partner Pedro nearly lost his ear. A man had run up to me as I was sketching (while being gassed) and asked me to draw his hand in a peace sign. He modelled patiently for me, even though the gas bombs were flying.”
“Saturday, June 1. Thousands of protesters took over Taksim Square, chanting and singing while police bombed us with gas. This is when we experienced the mysterious ‘orange gas’ that made our skin still burn 7 hours later.”
“Sunday, June 2nd in Gezi Park. Police had retreated on Saturday afternoon, and the park was a scene of jubilation and festivity. People brought their kids to play and organized mass clean-up crews.”
Once the government backed off last week, Gezi Park and Taksim became “like a peaceful festival,” Samantha said.“There are libraries in the park (and one in a burned-out city bus), free yoga sessions, cookouts, dancing, performances and general merriment. It really is unlike anything I have ever seen or been a part of.”
But as soon as she got back from her weekend away, Samantha realized the tension had escalated again. Just today the police moved in on Taksim and things turned violent as government forces attempted to clear out the square, if not the park.
“This is no longer a fight against bulldozers razing a park to the ground. This is a fight against the government,” Samantha notes. She suggests we keep tabs on The Guardian’s site for live updates.
Sublime work by six recent Textiles MFA graduates – along with work by six other graduate students who will complete their degrees next year – is featured in a wonderful exhibition that opens tonight on the 10th floor of the New York Design Center. Selected artists will receive the Sherri Donghia Award of Achievement, an annual accolade given to students who produce exceptional work.
Experimental textiles made by Chase Taylor MFA 13 TX and Agustina Bello Decurnex MFA 13 TX are included in the show. Last fall the duo created beautiful see-through fabrics by heat-pressing woven yarn.
The opening reception runs from 5:30–7:30 pm tonight at the New York Design Center, where the show continues through Sunday, June 16.
Members of the RISD Pigeon Club have been cooing over the newest additions to the campus dovecot: a noisy nest of freshly-hatched baby birds. For the last month, the little cuties have been busy testing out their wings in the shingled aviary located on a grassy hill right outside the Met.
(Pictured above: Eggbert, one of the dovecot’s newborn pigeons, takes a nap in a student’s palm.)
The RISD students proved to be dedicated parents. As the baby pigeons struggled to push their way out of their shells in mid-May, club members made sure there were no disturbances outside the coop. After a couple days of waiting, the students welcomed three new pets into the world.
To celebrate the birth of their feathery friends, the group recently hosted an outdoor dinner party/pigeon baby shower. Thai iced tea, parsley lemonade and heaps of sushi were served at the happy event.
Congratulations to the RISD Pigeon Club!
Kids These Days, a fun piece in yesterday’s issue of T–The New York Times Style Magazine, focuses on 20-somethings who are making an impact in a wide range of fields – from literature to media to technology.
As part of the round-up of young talent, President John Maeda was invited to comment on Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, the two Stanford grads who hit on the idea for Instagram in 2010 and last spring reportedly sold the company to Facebook for $1 billion.
In summing up the impact of their app, Maeda says, “Instagram has transported users back to the carefree days when a single, simple button and the right subject matter was all you needed to share a magical moment with family and friends. It put good design in all of our hands and helped us make our photos – maybe even our lives – seem a little more memorable.”
After teaching at RISD for a decade, Associate Professor of Textiles Liz Collins 91 TX/MFA 99 is leaving this week to focus full time on her work as a fine artist and designer.
Later this month Collins will present the 11th iteration of her Knitting Nation performance piece in Zagreb, Croatia. Funded by a CEC ArtsLink grant, the performance will take place in an old factory as the culmination of her two-week residency as part of Queer Zagreb, an international summer-long arts festival intended to empower Croatia’s LGBTIQ community.
Knitting Nation performances involve a team of futuristically uniformed workers creating a single large-scale piece using manually operated knitting machines. The project was conceived as a commentary on machines, global manufacturing, trade, labor and the fashion industry.
Since 2011 architects Athanasiou Geolas BArch 11 of Kansas City, MO, Jesen Tanadi BArch 11 of East Java, Indonesia, and RISD Architecture critic Thomas Gardner have been maintaining an online resource of architectural drawings called The Draftery. The site is made up of inventive drawings and includes notes from the architects describing their inspiration and process. The curators have also put together a biennial print publication called Figures to more widely circulate the best of the drawings collected.
The team is now seeking funding via Kickstarter to publish the third volume of Figures, which will feature work by RISD Assistant Professor Carl Lostritto and alumna Molly O’Neill BArch 11, among others.
The next volume will “be about the many ways that a drawing reveals the previously hidden,” they say on the site. “An often glossed over job of the architectural drawing is to reveal: to show what is behind a door or above a room, to show what is within a wall, to determine the overall spatial order and even relationships of liability that then disappear in the building of it.”
Professor Elizabeth Hermann has asked that this message be posted with urgency on behalf of a group of Turkish students at RISD:
“We would like to call your attention to the recent turmoil in Turkey, because we believe it pertinent to all those striving to live in peace and with dignity, and because we really need your help.
Right now, in Turkey, innocent people practicing their democratic right to peaceful protest are suffering at the hands of government organized police brutality. This urgent issue, which threatens the very notions of natural and democratic human rights, is one of universal relevance. And it must be affirmed, in front of the whole world, that government oppression will never be tolerated - not in Turkey, not anywhere else; not now, not ever! And this is why we’re reaching out to you, calling you to action.
A peaceful sit-in in Istanbul’s Taksim Square in protest of the attempted demolition of a beautiful public park to instead erect a commercial mall, faced violent police crackdown on May 31st. The brutality began with the police burning protesters’ tents, and continued to escalate with the police making heavy use of water cannons, throwing excessive tear gas at groups, and shooting rubber bullets targeted directly at people. Hundreds of serious injuries, as well as fatalities, have resulted by this unprovoked and disproportionate use of police force.
What began as a peaceful environmental protest has now grown into an outlet for the Turkish people’s grievances against an authoritarian regime. The protesters have remained peaceful, but police brutality has been increasing steadily. We fear for the safety of our families and friends at the hands of such relentlessly excessive police force. We further worry that the government has not only remained silent in the face of this violent injustice, but has even stood behind it.
The local mainstream media has effectively been censored. The potential of trouble if they cover events that shed an unflattering light on the current government seems to have deterred the media from providing informative, objective and comprehensive coverage. Given that thus the Turkish people are left in the dark with very little recourse, we must call on the rest of the world to pay attention to our plight and stand in solidarity with us, with all those fighting for democracy.
Please take a minute to watch the video or read the article and please stand with us, please speak up with us.
With wishes that peace, freedom and kindness prevail everywhere, always …”
Thanks for this message, Lili.
Also, I’ve been in touch with one of our alumni leaders in Istanbul who confirms that conditions there are concerning. She wrote to me:
Most of the art world and my friends are out on the streets. The events are more serious than it seems. Very few TV channels are showing what is happening. People from different social, ethnic, political backgrounds and views have united for this peaceful demonstration.
Our thoughts are with our friends in Turkey. -JM
On campus the mounting crescendo to graduation drums on, but alumni in Boston had their own community gathering at the Microsoft NERD Center on Wednesday night, for a panel of alumni and faculty presentations about STEAM, or the combination of Art + Design with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
HPSS lecturer Lucy Spelman, Ryan Scott Barsdley 98 ID, Samantha Dempsey 13 IL, and incoming STEAM club president Catherine Schmidt 14 GD presented their professional work and the goals and progress of the students in the STEAM club. It being Boston, it wasn’t surprising that they found a bit of common ground in their collective passion for the intersection of healthcare and medicine, art and design.
In attendance was past Alumni Association president and current RISD Trustee, Meghan Reilly Michaud 01 GD, who has been a tireless STEAM champion. Meghan’s petition to support House Resolution 51 in support of STEAM is here - sign if you haven’t already!
RISD students who took the spring course Birds in Books, a popular literature class taught by longtime faculty member Mike Fink, have added a bit of beauty to a very special community.
The artists and designers installed handcrafted bird feeders, outdoor furniture and other charming lawn ornaments in the peaceful spaces that surround The Highlands, a cozy assisted living facility located about five miles from campus. On Thursday, students unveiled their functional art at a joyous ceremony held at the center.
Inspired by the symbiotic relationship between homing pigeons and humans, Amara Abdal BArch 13 constructed a decorative “monument” out of chip board, glue and white paint. She envisions that the local birds will perch themselves on the ornate structure.
“I hope the residents will enjoy watching these amazing creatures in their natural habitat,” Abdal said after showing off her work.
Pictured above: Mateo Ward 13 ID, a founder of the RISD Pigeon Club, attended the ceremony to show off “Elizabeth,” a flightless pigeon bred for its large plume.
Paul Savovici 13 ID didn’t go far to find construction materials for his outdoor furniture. The graduating senior carved a bench using lumber from trees that fell onto the facility’s property after an especially severe winter storm.
“This was a labor of love,” notes Savovici. “We’re so happy to be a part of this heartwarming project.”