Thirty years ago the founders of the RISD/Philadelphia club held their first Valentine’s Party. It’s a tradition they’ve celebrated every year since then, which is no small feat, especially considering the challenging February weather! Guests bring a sweet to share, and combine socializing with a planning meeting to discuss activities for the coming year. Congrats RISD Philly!
above: founding club member Rick Shnitzler BArch 65,current club president Lindsay Chandler 09 PT, past club president and host Marty Henry BArch 87, and long-time club secretary Mike Martella BArch 91
Last week, in the first talk in the Graphic Design department’s 2014 Visiting Designers Lecture Series, Dan Michaelson discussed his thought-provoking work with partner Tamara Maletic. Through their NYC firm Linked by Air they specialize in designing interactive websites for such organizations as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Yale School of Art as well as unique physical spaces for clients like the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) and Printed Matter. The threads that connect their projects, says Michaelson, are modularity and participation.
A Linked by Air installation proposed for a building in Chelsea
“We usually start with a sketch of a completed website and then break it down into modules that site visitors can edit,” Michaelson explains. On the Whitney’s website, for example, users can create their own pages – accessible to all – with images of their artwork. The children’s version of the site, which Michaelson described as “more sophisticated and more hallucinogenic,” provides easy-to-use tools like Pattern Maker so that kids can contribute their own ideas.
An image created using Pattern Maker
Linked by Air also created a modular, participatory site for the Yale School of Art, which (Michaelson shared with a certain amount of pride) was named “suckiest website of 2010” by the social news and entertainment site Reddit. “The radical experiment in content production” was based on a physical notice board, where the terrain and information are constantly changing. “The site is now seven years old,” Michaelson notes. “It’s not great every day, but it still feels new every day.”
Signage at the AIGA’s 365 Show in New York
Architecture Professor Anne Tate has been named to the Union Square Civic Advisory Committee in Somerville, MA, which will help the city to strategically plan and redevelop this core area of the city. The committee’s work will build upon the state-approved urban renewal plan for the square, realize transit-oriented and community development opportunities brought by the coming Green Line Extension and work in concert with an in-depth roadway and infrastructure improvement plan currently being prepared.
Tate has amassed years of experience in urban renewal and looks forward to helping develop a sustainable plan that balances economic development considerations, housing needs, open space, quality of life and historic preservation. As special advisor on sustainable development for the Massachusetts Office for Commonwealth Development, she has been a key player in a number of the state’s successful urban renewal efforts.
An interactive installation by Aarti Kathuria MIA 12 is one of six public projects approved for downtown Providence.
When a portion of interstate highway I-195 was rerouted last year, it freed up 19 acres of waterfront property in downtown Providence. City officials are still determining how to parcel out and develop the land, but earlier this month they preliminarily approved six temporary art installations, four of which came from RISD alumni – Sophia Sobers MFA 13 DM, Aarti Kathuria MIA 12, faculty member Adam Anderson MLA 12 and Topher Gent 12 FD. Funded by the Redevelopment Commission, the installations are slated to be completed this spring and will remain on view for approximately a year.
“I am very excited to have this opportunity to contribute to the Providence urbanscape,” says Kathuria, whose welded-steel Panoply will feature moveable panels that showcase moments in the city’s history. Sobers concurs, hoping to breathe new life into the otherwise vacant space via plants – to “symbolize the regeneration of life.” A collection of plywood and plexiglass containers will hold tall ornamental grasses and hanging plants, which will be lit at night to evoke an image of “objects walking across the land, as if cultivating it for new use.”
Sculptures by Gent and Anderson will reflect on the community and the historical Jewelry District. Gent’s piece will feature stacked geometric figures designed to look like amethyst, a gemstone that in the artist’s words “helps in the assimilation of new ideas.” And a triangular garden sculpture by Anderson will use mirrored aluminum balls to reflect passersby as well as the rising or setting sun.
Assistant Professor of Foundation Studies Stefanie Pender MFA 09 GL is showing work through February 27 in Cloudy is the stuff of stones, a solo exhibition at the Yashar Gallery in Brooklyn. A 2009–10 Fulbright fellow, Pender moves easily between contemporary and traditional media, with her latest body of work reflecting the scientific formulas of 16th-century Italian glassmaker/alchemist Antonio Neri.
“In the endeavor to expedite natural phenomena, time and space is compressed using empirical approaches of craft and chemistry,” the artist explains. “This work involved mining and refining minerals using early scientific methodologies for emulating earthly phenomena.”
This Sunday Foundation Studies faculty member Deborah Coolidge MFA 80 CR is speaking at the Newport [RI] Art Museum in conjunction with Delicate Armor: Works on Paper, a solo show of unique arboreal drawings on view through May 4. Her gallery talk will focus on the ongoing inspiration she draws from nature and how she works to capture the essence of each tree.
“Walking into the woods, I begin a dialogue with willing trees,” says the Massachusetts-based artist. “Our conversations start with bark: the furrows, layers and evidence of time. Wrapping paper around their bodies, I begin with graphite. Subtle texture emerges as calligraphic notions. I am exhilarated with the directness of this process and always surprised by the depth of variation and complexity. Later in my studio studying the drawings, which read like Braille dots and dashes, I begin to flesh out [each piece] by enhancing or erasing, lightening, darkening, summoning the complete story.”
At a standing-room-only presentation at the CIT last week, Professor Paul Sproll, head of RISD’s Teaching + Learning in Art + Design department, spoke about using his 2012–13 sabbatical to “reinvent and reengineer art education” with an eye toward integrating design thinking into art classrooms for all ages.
Project Open Door, an experimental program Sproll spearheaded at RISD, continues to inspire educators both in the US and abroad.
During his sabbatical, Sproll traveled to Baltimore to speak at Maryland Institute College of Art about a newly launched design high school and to Finland to present at the World Alliance for Arts Education Summit. He also spread the word about STEAM and visual learning from Texas to Maine to Missouri.
A teacher at work at last summer’s 2013 Teachers’ Studio Institute.
When he wasn’t on the road, Sproll was busy reworking his curriculum model of inquiry, which focuses on learning and the creative process (vs. the end product). He also orchestrated the 2013 Teachers’ Studio Institute at RISD, where K-12 art educators spent a week in July getting creatively refreshed and making individual pieces for Grand Scale, a stunning exhibition shown on campus. He closed his sabbatical presentation with an inspiring video of the teachers at work.
During the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Andrea Silva BLA 02 wasn’t focused on the fifth ring problems. Instead, as a senior project designer at WET in Los Angeles, she was watching a livestream from 12 times zones away, waiting with bated breath as the impressive fountain she’d help design began to come alive to herald the lighting of the torch. Right on cue, the explosions of water grew progressively taller until they reached the 230 feet of the Olympic flame itself.
After joining the project last March, Silva began designing the fountain in April and worked with a team from Russia to finalize the complex piece. As one of three fountain choreographers on the project, she worked on countless details, including making sure that each nozzle was programmed properly to spray in time with the classical music – by Russian composers Tchaikovsky and Khachaturian.
“I’d been making all these mysterious trips to Russia,” Silva told her hometown newspaper on Cape Cod, “but I was under a confidentiality agreement so I couldn’t talk about it before the opening ceremony.”
Once the Winter Games end this weekend, the Waters of the Olympic Park will remain a permanent fixture in Sochi, which is slated to host this year’s Formula 1 races, along with the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament.
Silva has worked for WET since the company recruited her at RISD over a decade ago. Among the team’s many other monumental accomplishments is the Dubai Fountain – the largest fountain system in the world – built in the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake in Dubai. Water “is an incredibly rewarding element to work with because people are attracted to it,” she says. “It has an incredible capacity to move us emotionally.”
New York-based illustrator JooHee Yoon 11 IL doesn’t always share sketchbook images on her site, but after winning a grant to travel to Italy last fall she filled page after page with drawings – some of which made it online.
Yoon stayed for five weeks in the small town a few hours northeast of Rome and says “the town made me feel like I had stepped back in time – cobble stones and church bells everywhere.”
“I drew in the morning on the weekends and this really is how deserted it was,” Yoon notes. Her enticing sketchbook sensibilities carry over to her drawings and illustrations – whether she’s working in black and white or color, creating work for clients ranging from The New York Times to NPR to magazines like Le Monde and The New Yorker.
The drawing above – about rampant corruption in the Malawi government – ran last month in the Times' international edition, while the one below – “inspired by the absurdities of dog shows” – is among her recent work that will be shown in next month’s Illustrators Exhibition at the Bologna [Italy] Book Fair.
The Design Museum in London has nominated the Bradley Timepiece – a tactile watch for the visually impaired created by a team that includes Amanda Sim MFA 13 GD and David Zacher MID 12 – in its Designs of the Year competition, which highlights cutting-edge design from around the world.
All of the nominated projects will be exhibited from March 26 through August 25, with museum visitors voting for their favorites. A new Social Vote option enables anyone unable to travel to London to choose among two competing designs each day and cast their votes via Facebook or Twitter.
When US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi visited RISD last June, she admired the watch, which is the brainchild of Eone Time founder and CEO Hyungsoo Kim (an MIT Sloan School of Management graduate). A panel of experts at the Design Museum will choose the winning designs later this year.
You can just make out Stevie Wonder’s Bradley in this photo (with Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams) taken at the 2014 Grammies.
Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Sitings competition at the RISD Museum: Aaron Pexa MFA 14 GL, Nafis White 15 SC (pictured below, atop the cherry picker) and Garcia Sinclair 15 SC. “Garcia and I are ecstatic about winning Sitings a second time,” says White, who co-created the winning Waiting for Godot with Sinclair last year.
“This time we wanted to create a piece – Light Source Seeking Surface for Transparent Relationship – that is absolutely transformative. We are using 3,500 prisms, steel tension rods and thread, so that the space [the Associates’ Bridge connecting the Chace Center and the Radeke Building] will change as the light and seasons do. There will be magic moments in there, to be sure!”
Pexa’s piece, Back Door @ the Pendleton, employs neon signs reminiscent of 1970s-era red light districts to play off the voyeuristic nature of Pendleton House galleries. “An 18th-century buffet table seen under the neon glow creates conflicting visuals, relocating the meaning of the decorative art object and using humor to alter the atmosphere of the museum,” says Pexa.
Launched in 1995, the annual Sitings competition is open to all RISD students and invites them to respond to the museum’s collection, its architectural idiosyncrasies and the way people navigate its spaces. Providence-based artist and musician Brian Chippendale 97 PR* (the drummer and vocalist for Lightning Bolt) served as the juror of this year’s competition. Come celebrate the new installations at the opening tomorrow evening – Thursday, February 20 from 6–8 pm in the Museum’s Grand Gallery – or be sure to check them out while they’re on view throughout spring semester.