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
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.
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 week New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer wrote an interesting behind-the-scenes piece about Stoll New York that largely focused on Edun knitwear designer Emily Thornton 10 AP. In the midst of preparing Edun’s line for New York Fashion Week, she popped into Stoll’s 39th Street shop to create a few last-minute pieces for the runway show.
"The things that I am making here this week will be on the runway Sunday at 6 pm,” Thornton told the Times. “It’s like instant gratification. You can run across the street and change things. You can give them new things. Or if one yarn doesn’t work, you give them another yarn.”
Thornton worked for Calvin Klein’s Women’s Collection for almost five years before her spring move to Edun, a brand founded by rock superstar Bono and his wife Ali Hewson to promote manufacturing and trade in Africa.
“I love the industry because it is so tactile; it doesn’t exist in the ether,” Thornton told Dwyer for his NYT story.
To mark the official beginning of the academic year today, Provost Pradeep Sharma welcomed new faculty and RISD students from 38 countries and 41 states at the 2014 Convocation ceremony in the RISD Auditorium. Professors and department heads in full robed regalia attended the annual event, with a livestream broadcast sent to the overflow crowd in the Chace Center’s Metcalf Auditorium.
Sharma introduced RISD Museum Director John W. Smith, who told new students about the museum’s great assets, along with department heads and graduate program directors – with a still photo from each highlighting their summer travels and explorations. The provost also delivered the core message of the day – a wonderfully provocative talk about tickling and revolution and the inherent contradictions of life in the 21st century. “Creativity exists,” he said, “in the uncanny spaces between the familiar and the unfamiliar.”
In offering her own warm and inspiring words of welcome, President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID recalled the many jobs she held when she was a student at RISD, including working in a local restaurant where she rubbed shoulders with a number of alumni who have gone on to make indelible marks on the world. Among them was a dishwasher who stood out from the crowd: musical and artistic maverick David Byrne (class of 1974), the Talking Heads founder who has continued to stand out for his incredible contributions to the art world. Somerson described RISD as the “official beginning of a lifelong dream” and urged students to “turn impossible challenges into tangible results.”
Film critics are describing Sunshine Superman, a heart-racing 96-minute documentary about BASE jumping directed by Marah Strauch 00 GL, as “jubilant and evocative.” The film was screened last week at the Toronto Film Festival, is appearing as part of the New York Film Fest in Lincoln Center in early October and was just picked up by Universal Pictures.
Filmed in the US, Norway and the UK, Sunshine Superman tells the story of the late skydiver Carl Boenish (who died in 1984) and his wife Jean, who were the first to parachute off of skyscrapers, mountains and bridges, shooting breathtaking “freefall cinematography” on the way down.
“The film isn’t this year’s Man on Wire,” notes The Hollywood Reporter in its review of last week’s screening in Toronto, “and not only because this eccentric hero died while practicing his passion. But it’s a thrill, and one that seriously rewards big-screen viewing.”
Illustrations by freelance artist Katy Wiedemann 13 IL grace the cover and inside pages of this month’s Scientific American. The September issue focuses on the incredible new discoveries paleoanthropologists have made in recent years – revelations that have fundamentally changed the way we understand human evolution.
Based outside of Philadelphia, Wiedemann specializes in scientific illustration and creates her amazing work using a combination of digital and traditional techniques. Just a year out of school, she’s rightfully thrilled to land the cover of a major magazine.
RISD’s focus on critical making has clearly influenced San Francisco-based artist Adele Stafford 99 GL, who launched the handwoven textiles and apparel studio Voices of Industry in 2013.
Now the talented weaver has made her mark on RISD, creating a garment that the RISD Museum recently acquired for its Costume + Textiles collection.
VOI Shirt (agrarian twill, no. 6 of 8, 2014) – like all Voices of Industry pieces – was woven on a 16-harness dobby loom using 100% domestic fiber farmed and spun in the US. Stafford says of her studio: “We are influenced as much by modernist heroes like Anni Albers, Agnes Martin and Sheila Hicks as we are by traditional makers like Harris Tweed and Swans Island.”
Fast Company recently raved about DIY Furniture 2, a how-to book by industrial designer Christopher Stuart that features 30 “chic designs,” including lighting projects by Lindsey Adelman 96 ID, Rich Brilliant Willing (headed up by Theo Richardson 06 FD, Charles Brill 06 FD and Alex Williams 06 FD) and Sarah Pease 13 FD (see photo below).
Released by Laurence King Publishing in May, the book provides step-by-step instructions for making cool furniture out of unlikely, up-cycled materials, such as PVC tubes, suction cups and other inexpensive plumbing parts.