Wearing a look of determination, Joanna Claessens 18 FS neatly writes a powerful statement on a whiteboard: “As an aspiring filmmaker in 2014, I’m not going to receive the same benefits as my male counterparts. F*** that noise.” The Foundation Studies student caps the pen and tilts her chin toward Ocean Wong 17 IL, who takes a picture – and with a quick flash, a piece of political art is made.
The commanding portrait was one of many taken over the weekend during a photo shoot hosted by RISD Feminists, a new student org dedicated to gender equality. Students from all majors dropped by Ewing House to write down personal reasons for advocating for women’s rights. The arresting images will eventually be used in a campus-wide poster campaign to promote awareness and garner support.
Rebecca Richards 16 IL, who joined the group at the start of the semester, notes that more than half of her friends have been sexually assaulted or harassed. “Anyone who says women are considered unequivocally equal [in society] just isn’t paying attention,” she says. “There’s a lot more work to be done.”
Double Take: Color – a series of lunchtime talks this fall at the RISD Museum – kicked off last Friday in the Ancient Egyptian Galleries, where the conversation was inspired by an ancient, finely crafted ceramic paint box on display in the gallery.
Supported by the Brown RISD Committee on Institutional Collaboration (BRCIC), the series pairs specialists from various fields who are able to offer differing views on specific objects. In this case, object conservator Mimi Leveque teamed up with Brown Chemistry Professor Paul Williard to lead a discussion about the pigment known as Egyptian blue.
As Williard explained, Egyptian blue was a synthetic pigment made of silica (or sand), copper and calcium, and used on everything from papyrus to objects to the walls of tombs for approximately 3,000 years – right up until the beginning of the Middle Ages, when it abruptly disappeared. “Why,” Leveque wondered aloud, “did the pigment vanish? Was the recipe lost or mistranslated?”
Leveque passed around samples of her recent reproduction studies, in which she attempted to re-create these ancient blue pigments using controlled heat and materials such as copper carbonate. Egyptian sand, she pointed out, is brown in color and would have led to a muddier hue. Instead, ancient artists created Egyptian blue using pounded quartz, which she can confirm is no easy feat.
The next DOUBLE TAKE conversation focuses on Cobalt/Enamel and will take place on Sunday, October 26 at 1 pm.
In a promotional piece posted by architectural shelving company Rakks, undergraduate Aashman Goghari BArch 15 (pictured below) shares his take on what makes RISD’s Architecture program so special. “Each professor has a nuanced and unique understanding of the profession,” he says, “thus providing a wealth of possible interpretations of the role of architecture in our lives and specifically in the 21st century.”
The graduate Architecture program has also been in the spotlight recently, with Jim Bogle MArch 13 (below) featured in a front-page story in this month’s Archinect magazine. The piece looks at the typical challenges architects face when transitioning from college to professional practice.
“The principals [of Studio Luz in Boston] put a great deal of trust in me, which I appreciate,” Bogle tells Archinect reporter Sean Smith. “I was able to speak as a project manager of sorts at client meetings months earlier than some of my peers. Of course, there is an increased workload that comes with that privilege, but it was in no way too much.”
Bogle’s thesis project, a proposed renovation to the UN’s headquarters, is pictured in the ARCHINECT story.
Longtime Metropolis editor-in-chief Susan Szenasy will join President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID and Provost Pradeep Sharma on Monday, October 27, for a Shared Voices panel discussion on ethical, sustainable design practices.
A writer, teacher, filmmaker and lecturer, Szenasy has led the charge on issues ranging from universal design to consumer excess to the social and environmental impacts of modern-day buildings and products. At RISD she will sign copies of her new book, Szenasy, Design Advocate, which offers a collection of her writing and talks from the past 30 years.
Now in its fourth season, RISD’s Shared Voices presidential speaker series welcomes top designers, scholars and thinkers to campus for an open exchange of ideas. The conversation with Szenasy – which is free and open to the public – will take place at 6 pm at the Fleet Library at RISD and be live-streamed for those unable to attend in person.
Young book lovers and their parents ducked out of the rain and into the Illustration Studies Building last Saturday to hear award-winning RISD authors and illustrators read from their latest children’s books. Illustrator Mary Jane Begin 85 IL, a senior critic in Illustration with work in the current faculty exhibition at the ISB, captivated her young audience.
At an opening last week in the ISB Gallery, a gray-toned print by Professor Jean Blackburn 79 PT coaxed a shy smile from Elena Mertus (above), who was taken with the intensity of the untitled piece. “There’s something very simple yet captivating about the image,” notes Mertus. “I couldn’t help but stop and get a good look.”
The print is one of many dazzling works featured in the Illustration Faculty Exhibition on view through October 31. At the opening reception, visitors lingered in front of oil paintings, colored pencil drawings and charcoal sketches.
Zander Mattaway 14 ID and Carlos Rosales 14 IL (above) dropped by the show to take a closer look at masterful personal work by their teachers – including Light and Air: the Pantheon, a painting by Jason Brockert 94 IL. Both are impressed with the coloring of the piece.
“There’s a warm undercoat but the exterior is cool, which creates a neutral temperature,” notes Mattaway. “And the yellows really pop – especially when viewed from afar.”
Architecture Critic Niccolo Casas recently collaborated with Dutch fashiontech designer Iris van Herpen on this futuristic, 3D-printed crystalline bustier dress, which hit the runway at Paris Fashion Week in late September. It was shown as part of van Herpen’s spring/summer 2015 Magnetic Motion collection.
The dress was created using a stereolithography technique in which a beam of ultraviolet light is used to harden a liquid photopolymer one layer at a time. van Herpen explains that the collection was inspired by a visit to Swiss research facility CERN, where she watched the renowned Large Hadron Collider at work.
This is not the first time that Casas’ 3D-printed creations have been in the news. Last year the Italian designer/architect worked with fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht to create Smoke Dress (above) – another high-profile 3D-printed garment – and Light (below), an inspired wearable tech component for the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil.
In a fascinating project backed by CreativeTime and Weeksville Heritage Center, Ceramics Critic Simone Leigh shed light on the often overlooked contributions of African-American doctors, nurses and midwives – in the past and present – who have dedicated their lives to serving underserved populations. Called Free People’s Medical Clinic (FPMC), the installation and programming at the Stuyvesant Mansion in Brooklyn just wrapped up this weekend.
Once home to Dr. Josephine English (1920–2011) – the first African-American woman to have an OB/GYN practice in New York State – the historic Stuyvesant Mansion has long been an intergenerational gathering place for artists, educators, activists, entrepreneurs and youth of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
For the past few weeks, Leigh – who is known for her object-based, sculptural explorations of the female African-American identity – turned the space into a homeopathic clinic, where local residents could sign up for a wide range of services and workshops. The project is intended to draw attention to the larger need for dignified healthcare experiences in the community.
After designing and building a new anagrama wood kiln at the Steel Yard, the industrial arts collaborative on Providence’s west side, Ceramics Professor Larry Bush and students are demonstrating it this weekend as part of RISD by Design open studios.
“Anagrama firing is the fly fishing of pottery,” Bush quips, “and a direct descendent of Japanese tunnel kilns, which were dug into the earth. This kiln includes a number of innovative features I developed to improve control, efficiency and environmental impact.”
Bush worked with Ceramics Tech Rick Haynes and other community volunteers to create the massive kiln using donated refractory inside a metal shipping container.
The Ceramics crowd started firing the new kiln last night and will keep it going through midday on Sunday, so if you’re in town, stop by the Steel Yard (27 Sims Avenue) to see what’s going on.
On Tuesday Interior Architecture faculty members Markus Berger and Liliane Wong, co-editors in chief of the journal IntAR, hosted a talk by HPSS Department Head Damian White, special editor of the newly released issue. Volume 5 of the annual publication focuses on resilience and adaptability.
“The design world and the social sciences should be more cognizant of one another,” said White. “If we can build bridges between the disciplines, we can go further.” He went on to outline how the inextricably tangled theories of sociology and ecology have evolved since the 1960s and cautioned the large crowd of Interior Architecture faculty and students to “engage carefully with metaphors” and “avoid defensive, bunker politics and design.” White wrapped up by encouraging members of the RISD community to “design for fortitude, imagination and most importantly possibility.”
Author and Interior Architecture Senior Critic Jeffrey Katz is guest editing the next issue of IntAR, which focuses on the experience economy.
Last week visiting artist Rebecca Manson 11 CR spoke to students in Ceramics about the trajectory of her work since she graduated three years ago. The prolific ceramist (who won a Windgate Fellowship her senior year) completed a two-year residency at Cal State Long Beach in 2013 and has now set up shop in a renovated barn in New York state.
Years of experimentation have taught Manson that the solutions to problems in the studio “might be simple rather than glamorous.” Her porcelain sculptures have evolved from plays on familiar objects to the glory of collapse and decay to images of community. Graceful spheres and tapestries created from hundreds of delicate, tonally varied porcelain bones respond to the “simpler questions” the artist has been asking herself as she slows down and refines her process.
As part of RISD by Design weekend, RISD’s Architecture community will come together this Saturday, October 11 from 3–4:30pm in the BEB to celebrate 50 years of contributions by recently retired Professor Emeritus Wil Yoder BArch 62. “Wilbur is a licensed architect and structural engineer whose professional work in the field has touched every corner of Rhode Island – from Trinity Church in Newport to Roger Williams Park Zoo and Davol Square in Providence, among hundreds of other projects,” says Department Head Laura Briggs BArch 82. “He taught almost every student who studied architecture at RISD from 1964 until very recently and was chiefly responsible for the department’s courses on structure.”
In a talk hosted by the Industrial Design department last Monday, ethnographic filmmaker Ruth Dessault shared images from two current projects – one about visionaries attempting to build off-the-grid ecotopias and another about paintball enthusiasts conducting their own, very different design-build experiments.
After interviewing devotees of both fringe cultures from a maker’s point of view, Dessault marvels at their resourcefulness and their ability to repurpose existing materials and develop unique workarounds. “While politically antithetical,” she notes, “both expressions reflect the ironies and aspirations of our cultural imagination in the face of an incomprehensible future.”