Posts tagged risd

Searching for the Perfect Model

After removing the measuring tape dangling from her neck, Sally Oh 13 AP (below left) uses a skilled hand to assess the waistline of a petite model standing stick straight against a wall. “You have a striking face,” notes Oh. “I’m looking for people who have a little edge.”


Like other students in her department, the apparel designer was searching for just the right person to wear her avant-garde garments next month at Collection 2014, RISD’s annual runway show at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Each spring Apparel Design students debut their best work for a fashion-forward audience eager to get a peek at their visionary creations.

To find suitable candidates, students held an open Model Call last week at Market House. In one of the hallways, girls slid on high-heeled shoes before getting in line to have headshots taken by a student photographer. 


Yiqian Tracy Jiang 13 AP was searching for children to wear her fashions inspired by Bunnicula, a kids’ book series about a nocturnal rabbit that sucks the juice out of vegetables stored in his owner’s kitchen. “I hope the children aren’t too scared by the story,” she quips.


In a corner of the room, Jennifer E. Kim 13 AP chats with students from the University of Rhode Island and Johnson & Wales University. Ideally, she’d like to find tall women with a dewy complexion.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people tonight who are just so thrilled to be a part of our show,” notes Kim. “The level of excitement just continues to build!”

Collection 2014 takes place at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Saturday, May 10, with shows at 2 pm and 7 pm. Tickets are available right up to showtime at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Box Office and

Board Conducts Listening Tour


Last week RISD Board of Trustees Chair Michael Spalter (center in the photo above) joined students in the Tap Room for the monthly Student Alliance meeting, as one of several stops on a “listening tour” the Board is conducting to inform its developing plans for the search for RISD’s 17th president. Seated next to student leaders Rosa Glenn 14 TX, head of the undergraduate Student Alliance, and Diana Wagner MID 14, head of the Graduate Student Alliance, he gave students an overview of the Board’s work to date and then asked for their input.

To get the conversation rolling, Spalter pointed to a young man in the audience and asked, “What qualities would you like to see in RISD’s next president?” The student responded that the ideal president would be “radically honest” and “unafraid of expressing a unique vision.” A lively, extended conversation with students followed as the Board chair drew out a long list of desired qualities.


Spalter went on to explain that the Board has been engaging in similar conversations with all facets of the RISD community. In addition to seeking input from students, this month he met with members of RISD’s Staff Council, the Alumni Council, the Parents’ Council and the Part-Time Faculty Association. Earlier he had gathered input at a regular Faculty Meeting, as well as at a meeting of the Museum Board of Governors. The Board has also surveyed alumni and parents to receive additional feedback.

In the meantime, a small working group of trustees has been reviewing potential search firms RISD may wish to engage and will make recommendations to the full Board for final approval. “[Board members] are taking these steps because we are committed to the principles of transparency of process, open communication and inclusivity in conducting the search,” Spalter told students. “We hope to make this search a true model for how presidential searches should be operated.” Next steps include hiring the search firm and appointing a search committee representative of all members of the RISD community. 

In the middle of a dusty race track, Thor Oren 14 SC feverishly struggles to release the front wheel of his human-powered rover from the clutches of an unforgiving sandpit. But cranking on the pedals, he only sinks further into the trench. Eventually the lanky sculptor hops off his seat, yanks the vehicle onto solid ground and speeds away from the troublesome terrain as fast as he can. 

Oren and his peers were competing in the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge (formerly known as the NASA Great Moonbuggy Race), a competition last Friday at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. More than 90 colleges from around the world entered their designs for a lightweight, two-person rover intended to race along a half-mile track meant to simulate Martian terrain – with plenty of rocks, craters and shifting sand. The challenge addresses the real mechanical problems NASA engineers face when preparing for actual exploration missions.

In preparation for the competition, the RISD team practically camped out in the ID Metal Shop over spring break, working nonstop with acetylene torches and brazing tools. They hammered out a series of iterations before constructing a steel-framed rover that weighs in at 45 kilograms (see top photo). “It’s incredibly light compared to other teams’ [vehicles],” notes Senior Critic Michael Lye 96 ID, who advised students on their entry. “We were really pleased with the efficiency of the design.”

In addition to keeping up a breakneck pace to prepare the vehicle for the competition, the venture was full of excitement. At one point during the race, the rover smashed into a large obstacle, which ended up damaging a wheel chain, along with its overall race times. But RISD students were thrilled to win the Crash and Burn Award, an accolade reserved for the team that recovers from the worst breakdown. 

“Students learned how to fix problems when they arise in a complicated mechanical system,” explains Lye. “That’s an invaluable experience.” 

Click here to watch a video of the Rover Challenge awards ceremony.


Out of the Box



Last weekend the Providence Ballet Theatre premiered The Magic Box, a new piece by choreographer Eva Marie Pacheco and composer Roger Seitz. RISD students created the set design and costumes in a Wintersession studio taught by Sculpture Critic Jane South and Interior Architecture Critic and Brown Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Lecturer Michael McGarty. Funding for the studio came from RISD’s newly launched Robert L. Turner Theatrical and Performance Design initiative, backed by NYC-based theater aficianado Robert Turner 74 IL.

RISD Educators Earn Science Awards


This morning Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee visited the Fleet Library at RISD to present the 2014 RI Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC) awards. The grants facilitate collaborative research among the state’s institutions of higher education and support STAC’s partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF). This year’s seven winning research teams were awarded a total of $806,000 to study how marine life in Narragansett Bay is responding to climate change. Nature Lab Director Neal Overstrom, Head of Landscape Architecture Scheri Fultineer and Sculpture  Lecturer Edythe Wright are all members of the winning research teams.


Neal Overstrom (left), director of the Nature Lab, represents his research team at today’s awards ceremony.

“RISD values creative problem solving, critical thinking and an openness to risk and uncertainty – fundamental and necessary skills in developing innovative approaches to the world’s most challenging problems,” noted interim President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID in the accompanying press release. “These STAC grant awards represent our belief that bringing art and design together with STEM disciplines can have a transformative effect on education, innovation and economic development.”

At the ceremony, Governor Chafee noted that the $9.3 million the state has invested in the program to date has yielded $36 million in matching grants and federal funding, thus boosting the local economy. Interim Provost Pradeep Sharma, who was on hand to welcome the crowd, noted that “diversity is at the core of creativity, and these awards are a testament to the power of diverse teams.”


Polish Prose


On Monday night, celebrated Polish painter and writer Grzegorz Wróblewski recited some of his gripping prose poetry in the Chace Center’s Metcalf Auditorium. The multi-talented artist read from Kopenhaga, a comprehensive collection of work inspired by the joys and difficulties he experiences as an immigrant living in Denmark. Piotr Gwiazda, an English professor at the University of Maryland, attended the event to read aloud his own English translations of the text.

Some of Wróblewski’s more humorous literary vignettes poke fun at the absurdities of everyday life. Other pieces are introspective musings on humans’ capacity to commit atrocious acts. “What terrifies me in Denmark – the land of Bohr and Kierkegaard, a caring tolerate state with a high standard of living? What terrifies me is Homo sapiens,” he noted.

The author also gave some pointed advice for beginning writers. “If an editor doesn’t respond [to your work], you need to calmly drain two bottles of cheap wine and discuss the matter with local pigeons,” he quipped.

After the reading, a student asked how his painting process influences his writing. “I find that I go between both mediums fluently,” Wróblewski responded. “Art fuels my writing in interesting and unexpected ways.”

Geiser’s American Avant-Garde


Ghost Algebra (2009) featured natural objects, re-photographed video, medical illustrations and other collage elements 

Los Angeles-based theater artist and experimental filmmaker Janie Geiser is in Providence this week working with RISD and Brown students as part of her FirstWorks Arts Learning residency. The former Guggenheim Fellow is leading a cross-disciplinary workshop in which students are helping to create Fugitive Time, a performance piece that integrates performed objects and puppetry with live-feed video manipulations of found, constructed and collaged elements.


A still from Geiser’s Ricky, a 2011 piece that explored the realms of childhood, war and loss

FirstWorks will present a free public showing of scenes from the work in progress on Saturday, April 12 at 7:30pm in Brown’s Granoff Center. The public is also invited to an artist talk and screening of Geiser’s The Nervous Films ­shorts on Thursday, April 10 at 7pm in the RISD Museum’s Metcalf Auditorium. Advance tickets for the event can be purchased here.

On Friday night, amped-up students were attracted to an explosion of sound and color erupting in a corner of the Gelman Student Exhibitions Gallery. The cause of the sonic mayhem was Stinky Nice, a rowdy noise band (pictured in top photo) formed by five mighty musical RISD students.

As lead singer Adrienne Fowler 14 FAV howled into a microphone, a saxophone player squeaked and blatted out dissonant melodies. “This is out of control!” yelled one viewer while jumping up in the air.

The crazed musical performance was part of Museum Takeover, an all-night event sponsored by RISD’s Programming Board. Prior to the opening, students installed interactive art exhibitions throughout the Gelman Student Exhibitions Gallery and the museum. 

Standing in front of a checkered wall, Mariam Quraishi 15 IL played a game that involved shooting moving laser targets projected on the wall. Other students had a ball using a light installation to cast shadow puppets across the Grand Gallery’s blue walls and 18th-century oil paintings. 

For caption information, click on the photos above (photos courtesy RISDKIDS).

RAKED Draws Attention


Raked – Sculpture Critic Jane South’s inspired new installation at Spencer Brownstone Gallery in SoHo – was featured in The New York Times yesterday as part of Karen Rosenberg and Pete WellsCritic’s Gallery Crawl through SoHo and TriBeCa. Here’s what they say about the work:

Jane South’s intricate paper sculptures have been getting more and more ambitious. For a 2013 installation at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, she pieced together a realistic-looking lighting grid laden with little pieces of technical “equipment” (mostly cut-and-glued paper, with some actual lights and cables).

Raked, her new piece at this Wooster Street gallery, also takes its cues from theatrical infrastructure; it’s a slanted stage that supports a vast array of black, machinelike forms. It all looks so dynamic that you assume, at first, that the parts are actually moving: a set awaiting its actors. They’re static, but that precurtain excitement lingers.



Students and faculty on the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe team are just back from a successful trip to France, where they presented the latest plans for the high-tech house to sponsors. They also secured windows, appliances and a warehouse space in Versailles where they’ll assemble their Techstyle Haus in time for this summer’s competition.

Meanwhile, back in Rhode Island, construction is underway on interior flooring modules and framing for the deck and ramp system. The next step is erecting the steel structural ribs that will support the building’s exterior textile shell. For the latest news and design details, check out the team’s Facebook page.



Monday = Bruce Helander Day


Artist and curator Bruce Helander 69 IL/MFA 72 PT (a former RISD provost) is making art history in Florida this month. Secretary of State Ken Detzner (to the far right in the photo below) inducted him into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame a couple of weeks ago and this Monday, March 31, the mayor of West Palm Beach will present him with the key to the city in conjunction with Bruce Helander Day.


Florida Artists Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Helander (second from right) receives his award in Tallahassee.

A former New Yorker, Helander moved to West Palm Beach in 1982 and has been active in the south Florida art scene ever since. He is a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and recently won the South Florida Cultural Consortium fellowship for professional achievement in the visual arts. Helander’s work can be found in more than 50 museum collections, including those at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan, the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the LA County Museum of Art, among others.

Theatrical Installation


Raked, a new site-specific installation by Sculpture Critic Jane South, opens at the Spencer Brownstone Gallery in NYC this Saturday, March 29, with a reception from 6–8 pm. The title of the piece references the theater term raked, which refers to a stage that is sloped down toward the audience to facilitate a clear view of the action. In South’s theater, the stage is strewn with hand-cut paper sculptures that appear to be scattered haphazardly. Shadows cast by grates, cables and supports create mysterious patterns on the walls and floor of the installation.


Raked builds on Floor/Ceiling (shown above), a theater-inspired installation South exhibited last year at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut. “There is a strange, in-between sort of an experience unique to working in the theater,” she explains. “This becomes weirdly concrete when you get to lurk behind the set … amid carpentry and coiled cables … while the play is going on. It exemplifies the delicious, eerie, expectant absurdity of it all – and the slippage that also occurs in life, between the world and the world of the imagination.”


Floor/Ceiling detail (2013)

A selection of South’s Escher-esque Flats drawings will be on view alongside Raked. The exhibition runs through the month of April.

Alternative Spring Break


Teams of big-hearted RISD students are in Washington, DC and New York City this week participating in Alternative Spring Break (ASB). Throughout the week, they’re volunteering with social service agencies dedicated to helping young people stay off the streets and out of juvenile prison systems.

Yesterday morning, the group visiting DC facilitated a drawing workshop (pictured below) with teenagers at Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a nonprofit that aids troubled adolescents. “RISD students have been making reciprocal friendships,” notes Andy Jacques, assistant director leadership programs in the Center for Student Involvement. “The types of conversations they’ve been having here will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.”


Holding a bundle of crayons, a young man discussed design concepts with RISD students while filling the pages of his sketchbook with a collection of elaborate sketches. Another girl used the initials of her name to make an eye-catching logo for the apparel company she plans to launch after completing college.

In New York, a group lead by Jared Lafond 12 IL painted a mural at Riker’s Island, the well-known prison complex located just outside the city. The do-gooders also met with youth incarcerated at Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center.

Follow the ASB blog to learn more about this week’s service learning in DC and NYC.

Last Thursday  a crowd of students stood transfixed on the terrace behind the Chace Center as a small fan slowly blew into a swath of shiny material laid out along the concrete. As the fan whirred, an elephantine inflatable (top photo) began to take shape. “It looks like an alien pod,” someone murmured.

Matt Muller 14 FD and August Lehrecke 14 FD made the 30-foot mylar sphere to show as part of Material Lessons, the Furniture Design department’s two-day symposium. But before the team could show off their inflatable, they had to move the installation from Market Square to the sheltered terrace due to strong wind gusts. 

“The dome can’t withstand this weather,” explained Muller while leaning his body against its walls. “This is a learning experience for us. The next [iteration] will include interior ribbing to make sure [the dome] retains its spherical shape in windy environments.”

After graduating in May, Muller and Lehrecke plan to leverage this practical knowledge to launch their own company specializing in custom inflatable structures designed to house pop-up gallery spaces or video projections. “Because the mylar is transparent, it creates an experiential setting,” notes Muller.

Assistant Professor Peter Dean BArch 77 expressed interest in the way the two assembled the dome. “If you look closely, you can see that the pieces of mylar are trapezoids and hexagons,” he noted while standing in the middle of the inflatable. “The straight lines of the shapes allows [the designers] to connect the pieces quickly using strips of tape. It’s an efficient design.”

Nourishing Creativity


Molly Hatch (second from left) consults with students on glaze tests

Ceramics students in the Tableware studio taught by adjunct faculty member Molly Hatch are getting real-world experience working with local restaurateurs Ben and Heidi Sukle, owners of Birch in Providence. The small bistro serves one-of-a-kind dishes prepared by chef Ben, whose creative use of locally produced ingredients has earned such accolades as a James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award in 2012. The eclectic menu at Birch is complemented by a diverse collection of handmade tableware, and this spring students are working on new collections of plates, bowls, creamers and vases designed to work well with the restaurant’s menu and atmosphere.


Birch owners Heidi and Ben Sukle visiting RISD’s ceramics studios

The Sukles visited RISD last week to review glaze tests and were excited about the students’ progress thus far. “I love these random iron spots,” Ben noted as he examined a pale gray glaze flecked like oatmeal. He and Heidi selected a variety of preferred glazes so that the work produced this spring won’t look too “matchy matchy.” They were drawn to the thinner matte finishes, which ­“allow marks from the handwork to show through,” as Hatch pointed out.