Posts tagged sculpture

Bird Woman in Major New Smithsonian Show


Half Woman Quarter Bird, a 1974 bronze sculpture by Howard Newman 69 ID, is included in a new exhibition opening today at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection “encompasses the range of what can broadly be called modern realism, from socio-political to psychological, from satirical to surrealist.” The 70 paintings and sculptural works created between 1910 and 1990 will remain on view through August 17.


photo by Dave Hansen

Newman lives in Newport, RI, where he spends his time painting, sculpting and restoring historic metalwork. Though he focused on silversmithing at RISD, he has subsequently moved to bronze. Two of his pieces – Torso #1 (below) and Female Torso (Birth Series) – are on display on the grounds of the Newport Art Museum, and he is currently working on a bronze fountain for Providence’s Decatur Square. 


Anyone who popped by RISD Exposé on Thursday night was positively attracted to the artwork showcased in Things We Made That Magnets Stick To, a one-day show featuring artwork made by students taking a Sculpture course taught by Christopher Sancomb 93 SC.

The exhibition presented the confines of a single material: metal. Daisy Hook 14 IA and Lauren Allegrezza 14 PT, who direct the student-run space, note that overall the show was “an enthralling mixture of color, texture and form.” 

Some of the pieces showed shifty properties. For instance, Cornell Chu MArch 14 (pictured in the top photo) made Squeeze Me, a hanging installation that expands and contracts. With a quick snap of the wrist, the architect compressed the tractable piece made of stainless steel.

“I imagine that this installation could be used as adjustable shelving,” says Chu. “And multiple pieces could be assembled together to make up a chair.”

Whitney Bosel MArch 15 showed off a collection of sturdy steel pieces partially inspired by the social confusion that can be caused by text messaging or social media. “I think a lot [of meaning] can get lost in translation,” she said.“I had a lot of fun learning how to solder this piece.”

Playing with Proportions


“For whatever reason, I have this affinity for the weird, ugly and uncomfortable, and a sort of distaste for the beautiful and lovely,” notes RISD Illustration faculty member Jesse Thompson MFA 07 SC in the November issue of East Side Monthly. After winning a 2013 fellowship in 3D art from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, he’s currently working on a series of sculptures called Dress-Up – portraying small children trying on grisly, “life-cast” adult-sized limbs.

Vote for RISD-Made!


Sweets & Bitters, a lovely quarterly publication and website cooked up by Hannah Kirshner 06 PT and Mira Evnine BArch 06, is among the nominations in the 2013 Audience Choice Awards category of Martha Stewart’s second annual American Made competition. You can cast up to six ballots per day for their beautiful “themed mini-cookbooks” between now and September 23. The six nominees with the most votes in each category (food, craft, design, style, gardening or technology) will receive an American Made gift basket and be featured on Martha Stewart Living’s website and on Sirius radio. One Grand Prize Winner will also win $10,000!

Other RISD nominees we’re aware of include Jennifer Lisa 94 JM of Quench Metalworks, sculptor/metalworker Susan Freda 96 SCAnnika Schmidt 08 FD of Lilliput Studios and Constance Sepulveda 07 FD of Scout by Two (please email if you spot more). In the meantime, show your support and cast your ballots here!

Talking About the Beauty of BEASTS


Last Thursday evening the RISD Auditorium was filled with Beasts lovers – students and other members of the RISD community who were profoundly moved and encouraged by the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild – due both to the impact of the film itself and the crazy communal, creative and hand-built way it was made.

Director Benh Zeitlin and his sister and artistic collaborator Eliza Zeitlin 08 SC were at RISD to talk with fervent fans about their process and what they hope to do now given the mutually inspirational group of collaborators – including several RISD alums – who got involved in the project.


Benh on the Beasts set with natural talent Quvenzhané Wallis, the phenomenal 6-year-old who earned an Oscar nomination for her first film role.

Students asked all sort of questions – mostly preceded by expressions of profound gratitude to the Zeitlins “for making such a beautiful film” – including what Eliza has learned about making art in the years since she graduated from RISD.

“The most important thing I’ve gleaned is to start with an idea but not a plan,” she responded. “If you just start and let the plan evolve naturally, you’ll reach a lot further.” You just need to sort of “guide” or channel the process, she said.


At RISD the Zeitlins showed a few minutes from Glory at Sea, a short film that was also set in the watery bayous outside of New Orleans and opened the door to making Beasts.

Among Benh’s many bits of advice for aspiring filmmakers and others students in the crowd: enjoy the “freedom” you have in college “to work all the time.” And recognize it as “a great time to find collaborators” you’ll want to work with in the future.

After graduation “don’t wait for permission to create art. Just do it,” Benh urged. “And don’t be afraid to be poor,” he added with a laugh. “It’ll kill you a lot more slowly than having a job you hate.”


The amazing Zeitlins – director Benh Zeitlin and his sister Eliza Zeitlin 08 SC – are coming to RISD this week to talk about their exceptional film, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

If you haven’t yet seen it, see if there are any more free student tickets at CSI for the 7:30 pm screening on Wednesday. You’ll also need a ticket for the next night – to hear the Zeitlins talk about what they did to make their very first film one that became an indie favorite last year while also getting nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress!

Read the RISD XYZ feature article Living Beasts (it starts on page 20) for more about the role Eliza and three other alumni played in making the film what it is.

Hip-Hop-Era Giacometti


Huma Bhabha 85 PR could hardly dream of a better response to Unnatural Historiesher current solo show at MoMA PS1, than this ecstatic summary in The New Yorker:

A stunning abundance of recent sculpture and works on paper by the Pakistani-born virtuoso. Who would have thought that today’s strongest sculptor would advance forms of pedestalled figures with heart-wrenching, humanistic content? For all their slangy use of Styrofoam, wire mesh, crumpled drainpipes, bones, and other detritus – along with the more traditional wood, plaster, and bronze – Bhabha’s creations convincingly resuscitate several sorts of lapsed tradition, both primitive and classical. She’s our hip-hop-era Giacometti. 


In its own rave review (called Huma Bhabha Does Rodin Meets Mad Max), The Village Voice calls Bhabha’s sculpture “a rare species of mesmerizing bravura 3D art.”

And New York Times critic Karen Rosenberg notes that the juxtaposition of the materials she uses is “arresting,” with the overall effect of the show being to “bookend the history of figurative sculpture, from ancient fertility icons to what could be the last vestiges of the human race.”


In this post from polich tallix foundry, you can find out more about Bhabha’s process for producing her lost-wax cast pieces – some weighing as much as 1,100 lbs.

Unnatural Histories continues at MOMA PS1 through April 1.

Presidential PLAY-DOH

After spending over 40 hours kneading children’s clay into whimsical replicas of presidential contenders Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Ian Williams 13 SC has earned the title of “Official PLAY-DOH Artist of the Year,” an annual contest run by the RI-based toy company Hasbro Inc.

“I’m passionate about sculpting and grew up playing with PLAY-DOH so I’m truly honored,” Williams said. “Working with Hasbro is a wonderful opportunity and I look forward to sharing my creativity with the PLAY-DOH online community.”

But the challenge was anything from child’s play. The RISD senior had to keep the pre-formed busts sealed in plastic bags and moistened with vegetable oil to prevent them from drying out. He also had a particularly hard time sculpting Romney’s voluminous hair (fit for a VO5 commercial), which tends to stick straight up.

"It was so much volume and there was so much height to it that the weight of the Play-Doh made it want to slump down,” Williams said in an interview with the New York Daily News.

The 21-year-old Rochester, NY native doesn’t just get the title of PLAY-DOH King; he also gets a $5,000 tuition stipend and the chance to create clay creations with Hasbro that will be posted to the company’s Facebook site

Public Art Projects Open in the Park

Five students in four different departments have been putting the final touches on a series of amazing installations (plus a performance) this week, scrambling to prep for tomorrow’s public debut as part of FirstWorks Festival’s big On the Plaza event.

The works all stem from Professor Ellen Driscoll’s spring studio Spokes of the Wheel: Public Art in Kennedy Plaza.

RISD peeps are invited to gather at Burnside Park at 5 pm on Saturday to celebrate a super solid achievement by Cody Henrichs MFA 13 SCQian Huang MLA 12Stuart Penman 14 IDRoy Small MLA 13 and Taniya Vaidya MFA 13 PT.

Yesterday the US State Department’s Art in Embassies program posted this six-and-a-half-minute slide show (“to be continued”) documenting the process Jim Drain 98 SC is currently engaged in with RISD students. They’re creating an ambitious installation for the new American embassy slated to open in Rabat, Morocco in 2014. Find out more about it here.

The New Yorker calls it “a revolution” – an “expression of post-affluent America” that is both “happy” and ”inspired by poetry and dream.”

Beyond its critical successes with reviewers and at Sundance and Cannes, most people I know who have been lucky enough to see Beast of the Southern Wild agree that they’ve never seen anything quite like it.

So much the better that three RISD alums – Annie Evelyn 99 FD/MFA 07, Sophie Kosofsky 06 FD and director Behn Zeitlin’s sister Eliza Zeitlin 07 SC – were involved in making this amazing movie. Read more about the RISD connections here.

This is the last weekend for Arrive Wherever You Can, a RISD show at Rooster Gallery, just below Houston in lower Manhattan. The exhibition features work by the half dozen Sculpture MFA students who just graduated, including (in the order of the pieces shown above) Rebecca Reineke MFA 12 SC, Austin Ballard MFA 12 SC, Emily Cornell du Houx MFA 12 SC and Zach Gabbard MFA 12 SC.Works by Kate Wignall MFA 12 SC and Tamara Johnson MFA 12 SC round out the engaging show at Rooster.

The process of making is at the core of a new series of sculpture Nicole Cherubini 93 CR is showing at Tracy Williams, Ltd. in midtown Manhattan. 

In addition to floor-sized works that incorporate terracotta, earthenware, paint, glaze and wood, her wall-based work showcases a new direction. Retaining portions of texture from the corrugated cardboard boxes clay ships in, Nicole folds, flattens and further manipulates other sections. She then mounts her wall work on a structural support made of pine painted with vibrant primary colors, which further highlights the interplay between flatness and depth.

Her show at Tracy Williams continues through August 10.

Cai Guo Qiang Visits RISD

When artist Cai Guo Qiang came to campus last Friday – to speak as part of the Fine Arts Division Lecture Series – he wanted to visit the Sculpture studios prior to his presentation. Here he’s attentively listening to Department Head Ellen Driscoll.

For more than 30 years, Cai has presented breathtaking (and sometimes explosive) installations and 2- and 3D work on the world stage, drawing respect and admiration from artists and art lovers everywhere.

Sculpture students obviously loved having the opportunity to share their work with him and talk shop last week.

Catch Cai’s current show Sky Ladder at MOCA, Los Angeles if you’re on the left coast before it closes on July 30. Or just get lost in the wonder of his work by exploring his prolific output online. 

Making the Mockingjay

Dana Schneider 82 SC says it was “like winning the lottery” when she was invited to make the hottest piece of jewelry to emerge this spring: the mockingjay pin Jennifer Lawrence wears as the character Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. It’s already spawning a rash of knockoffs on Ebay and Amazon.

After working in steel, cast bronze and aluminum as a Sculpture major at RISD, Dana taught herself to make jewelry. And since 1999 she has been creating iconic stuff for movies ranging from X-men to Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Tron, The Last Airbender and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Rooney Mara loved the work and has taken to wearing the necklace below, which is one of Dana’s own designs).

Dana now spends about 70% of her time making jewelry for the film and music industry, pieces like these rings for (from L–R below) Snoop Dogg, Cher, Marilyn Manson, Dr. Doom (in Fantastic Four) and the band Slipknot.

"It’s fun to customize something to a character and a scene,” she says. “But I have to maintain my own integrity and vision,” too – which is why she insists on making her own art. “If I go too long without making my own work, I get antsy. I have to do it." Read more in our story From The Matrix to the Mockingjay.