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Posts Tagged ‘risd’

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I was hurrying along Walden Street on a cold and rainy Sunday, awkwardly carrying parcels and a heavy umbrella, when whom should I see but a couple of historical reenactors. So of course I had to put everything down in the damp and find my phone to take a picture. I still don’t know what the occasion was for the guys above or who they were supposed to be, but this sort of thing happens all the time where I live.

Here are a few more photos, going back to October.

First, I wanted to show you the finished mural by Shepard Fairey in Providence. I posted the work in progress here. The sign by RISD Coworks is just one example of the welcome that Providence and the Rhode Island School of Design give to artists in general.

And speaking of RISD, my husband and I took my sister’s husband to the RISD art museum at Thanksgiving, and he loved it. I took pictures of some art I liked below, but I also want to tell you about an auditory installation that meant a lot to us.

In one room, a museum guard pointed out a circle of chairs on a dais and an old-fashioned microphone. You could vaguely hear a tape of voices looping softly in the background. The guard said that one could speak into the microphone and in a few seconds, one could hear the words projected and amplified. I stepped up and said to my sister, who died in September, “Hey, Nell, wherever you are. We’re thinking of you.”

The effect of hearing those words resonate around the room a moment later was spectral, indescribable. We felt we were communicating.

I close with the ruined wall in Providence that features a constantly changing array of artworks. And then one of my shadow pictures, this one taken in late afternoon in the local cemetery.

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Photo: Jay Simple
Artist Maia Chao pays a guest critic $75 in cash at the end of a 4-hour visit to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.

The Rhode Island School of Design and its museum are justly famed for cutting-edge art and ideas. In this Hypoallergic story, Laura Raicovich speaks with Maia Chao and Josephine Devanbu, the founders of Look at Art. Get Paid., a program that pays people who wouldn’t otherwise visit art museums to visit one as guest critics. It premiered at RISD.

“Critique is a hallmark of the art field,” writes Raicovich, “yet the vast majority of cultural critics, curators, museum leadership, and museum visitors are affluent and white. What is critique without diversity? What possibilities and truths are we missing?

“I was fortunate to meet artists Maia Chao and Josephine Devanbu, who launched the pilot of an ingenious way to approach these questions called Look at Art. Get Paid. (LAAGP), in 2016 at the RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] Museum. The initiative is a socially engaged art project that pays people who wouldn’t otherwise visit art museums to visit one as guest critics of the art and the institution, flipping the script between the institution and its public, the educator and the educated, the paying and the paid. In the next year, they will embark on an expanded campaign to launch LAAGP simultaneously across a regional cohort of three to five art museums in the US. …

“Hyperallergic: What is the origin story of LAAGP?

“LAAGP: We started LAAGP when we were both students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). We were grappling with the relevance of our chosen field to our wider communities. We believed in art making and cultural critique as vital sites of collective meaning-making and world-building, but felt frustrated by how access to the majority of resources and infrastructure to sustain ambitious projects was constrained to a (mostly white and affluent) initiated few. We asked each other, what would a critique environment look like if you didn’t need to be an insider to be in the room? We were curious to test out how we might use our institutional access and artistic license to move funds that would normally circulate within RISD out into the community. We launched our pilot in 2016 at the RISD Museum. …

“Paying people in cash to visit a museum names the elephant in the room: wealth, specifically the wealth accumulated by beneficiaries of the transatlantic slave trade, and the way this wealth continues to shape whose cultural production gets prioritized.

“As with any group of people, some enjoyed their experience and others didn’t. One critic took a picture of her favorite painting on her phone to get printed at Walgreens and hang it up in her living room. Others found the experience reaffirmed their assumptions that museums are boring.

“But beyond like and dislike of the experience, there was a general feeling amongst critics that the museum is ‘addressing a certain kind of person’ — namely white people and people with money. Throughout our conversations, the topic of belonging featured prominently, and one critic said, ‘maybe this place isn’t for me.’ Another critic articulated that they just didn’t feel like they had ‘bandwidth for another white space.’ When discussing what changes the critics would like to see, most agreed the museum would have to better represent POC [people of color] in their collection, improve language accessibility, advertise in their neighborhoods, and make the experience less intimidating.

“However, there were some critics who felt energized to help the museum. For instance, one critic, a sign-maker, said he’d love to help the museum improve their signage. Another critic — an organizer from Direct Action for Rights and Equality — suggested having cookouts at the museum. We’ve been working with these critics to commission local artists to engage these ideas. …

“Critic Samanda Martínez said, ‘Están cuidando más a las imágenes que a nosotros/They’re taking better care of the paintings than they are of us.’

“It’s one thing to know that a space isn’t welcoming to another person, but it’s another to hear directly from someone who has felt unwelcome. In general, our goal as artists is to make that experience legible and valid, in order to create more urgency and disrupt usual practices that need to change. ” More here.

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The quirky Frog & Toad shop on Hope Street carries a variety of these funny metal creatures. This lobster on ice is an especially good one for New England.

Most weeks when I am in Providence, I volunteer at Dorcas International Tuesday morning and at the Genesis Center Tuesday afternoon. Last week, because Dorcas was doing its standardized testing, I had the morning off and decided to stop in at the Swedish-themed shop called Café Choklad and then at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Here are a few photos of that morning and another day of Providence wandering.

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Here’s my latest photo round-up.

The three cheerful and unsuspecting little pigs are hanging out at Chez Pascal in Providence. French-inspired, the restaurant features wurst and local produce. The horse dancers grace a wall of AS220, an arts powerhouse. The Roy Lichenstein POW! art is on a Rhode Island School of Design Museum banner. I think the iris-like banner is of a vase.

The “Bed Early” mural is part of a longer thought at the charming Dean Hotel. The skinny windows are just skinny windows. The fork, which I just noticed after several years of walking past, is on a Wayland Square restaurant called the Red Stripe.

Providence is not all food and fun. If anyone can tell me what church was behind the Assumption of the Virgin parade on August 7, I’d be much obliged. It was impressive. I Googled everything I could think of. I can at least tell you that the guy waving the hat is George M. Cohan at Fox Point. A king of parades, he nevertheless probably composed no music for the one I saw.

From Concord, we have a typical lichen-covered stone wall near the North Bridge, a garden ornament in the shape of a mushroom and grapes hanging on a blue fence.

Sometimes KerryCan tells me which photo she liked best. I’m always grateful for signs that someone’s reading.

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I gravitate to stories about older people who keep on truckin’ and don’t let age keep them from doing what they love.

Here’s one about a 102-year-old museum docent, who is being honored with a café in her name.

Chuck Hinman of Rhode Island Public Radio reported, “There’s something new at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence … . Visitors to the [Rhode Island School of Design] Museum have been unable to use its Benefit St. entrance since mid-April, but that entrance now has been re-opened, as RISD unveils what it’s been working on these past few months: its first café, called Café Pearl, after one of the museum’s most dedicated and long-serving docents, Pearl Nathan.

“RIPR’s Chuck Hinman talked to the 102-year-old Nathan at her home in East Providence, about her long association with the RISD Museum.”

Hinman goes on to say Nathan is bemused by the café and her new fame. She tells him her “emphasis was on my art collection,” not the food.  She graduated with a degree in art history in New York. When she came to Providence, a friend got her involved in “touring with the children,” and she stayed on. For 70 years.

When Hinman asks who Nathan’s favorite artist is, she says she thinks she will surprise him: “I adore Francis Bacon!”

Now, that takes a certain kind of person, I’d say. A person open to experience. Listen to the audio here and see a photo of Nathan leading a tour in 1962.

Photo: Chuck Hinman / RIPR

Pearl Nathan, 102, a guide at the museum of the Rhode Island School of Design.

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Over at the Brain Pickings blog, Maria Popova has a review of a book that features photos of famous meals in fiction.

“Food and literature have a long and arduous relationship … But nowhere does that relationship come alive more vividly and enchantingly than in Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals  … an ingenious project by designer and writer Dinah Fried, who cooks, art-directs, and photographs meals from nearly two centuries of famous fiction. Each photograph is accompanied by the particular passage in which the recipe appeared, as well as a few quick and curious factlets about the respective author, novel, or food.

“The project began as a modest design exercise while Fried was attending the Rhode Island School of Design a couple of years ago, but the concept quickly gripped her with greater allure that transcended her original short-term deadline.

“As she continued to read and cook, a different sort of self-transcendence took place. [Although] a near-vegetarian, she found herself wrestling with pig kidney for Ulysses and cooking bananas eleven ways for Gravity’s Rainbow. …

“All of Fried’s photographs are immensely thoughtful (Ishmael’s austere dinner from Moby-Dick is not only a nautically appropriate serving of clam chowder, but also appears lit by candlelight), and some bear a distinct undertone of cultural meta-satire (representing A Confederacy of Dunces is the ultimate edible Americana, a hot dog on a classic All-American diner tablecloth).”

Check out Popova’s review here, and revel in photographs that include Sylvia Plath’s avocado and crabmeat salad, Oliver Twist’s request for “More,” Proust’s petite madeleine, Alice’s Mad Tea Party, and Heidi’s toasted cheese.

Photo: Dinah Fried
“On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold.” — The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925

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Jan Flanagan at the Providence Journal has put together a great list of things to do on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, next Monday. I’ll highlight a few to help you plan ahead, but rather than lift the whole calendar, I hope you will go to the ProJo website, here.

The Providence Public Library will feature an exhibit with photos showing the famous Selma to Montgomery March, about which a movie was made in 2014.

In case you are near Newport on the 18th, Chevette Jefferies will speak at the Thompson Middle School at 9:30 a.m.; James Gillis will keynote a lunch at the Mainstay Inn; and St. Joseph’s Church will hold a special worship service at 5 p.m.

You could also consider participating in a Day of Service at the Martin Luther King Elementary School in Providence, a collaboration with RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design) “to help children reach their full potential by engaging them in arts, crafts, special activities and conservation.” And here’s something that sounds like fun: a celebration of black storytelling, ribsfest.org.

The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence will hold a candlelight vigil in honor of Sister Ann Keefe,  a longtime supporter of the Providence nonprofit, which follows in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr.

NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, will hold a memorial service and reception 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Woonsocket.

Finally, the Providence Children’s Museum will feature living history portrayals of civil-rights activists Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks and others by local actors.

Get all the details about these and other January 18 events here.

Photo: AP
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at the University of Rhode Island on Oct. 5, 1966.

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Gotta love MIT. There is always something crazy going on over there. And when MIT and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) ideas come together, watch out.

At WBUR radio, Fred Thys explains about a new, multidiscipline design program.

Matt “Kressy has put MIT’s first-ever integrated design and management (IDM) students in a kind of boot camp. He wanted to immerse the engineers, designers and business school students in a project where they would have to work in concert. …

“The task: build instruments from found materials. And boy did the students find materials. Mechanical engineer Maria Tafur, from Bogota, made a clarinet from a carrot. Engineer Tammy Shen, from Taipei, has made an instrument that includes glass bottles. …

“Kressy was teaching a course at the Rhode Island School of Design when he got the idea for the new IDM master’s program. He was also teaching engineers and business students at MIT — but it was the design students from RISD that caught Kressy’s attention by asking a critical question:

‘How does this product enhance our lives?’ …

“Kressy says it took 13 years for his idea for a design program to get traction at MIT. When it did, he was able to pick 18 students with completely different criteria from what MIT typically uses.

“ ‘And that rubric had crazy metrics, such as the metric love,’ Kressy says. ‘And the love metric was basically: Does this candidate have a large capacity for love and compassion? …

“ ‘When I showed the rubric to my colleagues here, let’s just say it got mixed responses,’ he says, laughing.”

To get at the love-and-compassion metric, he asked applicants to submit a portfolio indicating their efforts to make the world a better place.

You can read here about the impressive portfolios, struggles to get to MIT from poor countries, and inventive ideas for the future.”

Photo: Jesse Costa/WBUR
MIT integrated design graduate students Maria Tafur and Masakazu Nagata play their homemade instruments along with Brave Sharab, 7, on Main Street in Cambridge.

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While we’re on the subject, here are two more poetry events scheduled for spring.

Nancy writes, “Some of your readers may also be interested in the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, in Salem, May 1 – 3. Marge Piercy and Richard Blanco will be among the many well-known poets reading.”

She also notes that if you are near Providence in March, you may want to attend the Poetry Out Loud recitation competition for high school students. The statewide competition will be held at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, with 15 students from schools across Rhode Island reciting poems (by such people as Shakespeare, Mary Oliver, Robert Frost, etc.) in hopes of qualifying for nationals. Info here.

Another inspiring poetry competition for youth is the one depicted by the movie Louder than a Bomb, in which students compose their own poems and perform them. My husband and I were impressed by what the creative opportunity and the discipline did for some at-risk kids. You can get the movie from Netflix, which describes it thus: “Capturing the combined creative spirit of more than 600 Chicago-area teenagers who are participating in what’s billed as the world’s largest youth poetry slam, this documentary highlights the joy of language and the power of collaboration.”

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I asked around whether any local nonprofits were providing a service opportunity in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on the Monday holiday. Here is what I learned.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society told me it published a 12-page booklet to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. The Dr. King Booklet is free. Postage is $3 for one booklet or $4 for two or more copies.  To have one mailed, send a $3 check to RIBHS at 123 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02903 or call 401-421-0606.

“Let Freedom Ring: 50 Years Later …” Woonsocket, RI. Memorial Service, King Memorial Sculpture Garden, South Main Street, across from St. James Baptist Church, 10 a.m., January 19, 2015. Youth Service Learning Project, St. James Baptist Church, 340 South Main St., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Participants will help collect basic-needs items and snack food for the homeless. Contact nofokansi@neighborworksbrv.org or call 762-0993, ext. 234.

Providence College MLK Jr. Day of Service (2nd annual). Open Mic Night and Potluck, PC/Smith Hill Annex, 231 Douglas Ave., Providence. 2-5:30 p.m. Click here for info.

Special programs are being held to celebrate Martin Luther King Day at Audubon’s Environmental Education Center in Bristol, January 19, 10 – 2. Click here to volunteer to do crafts with children on Monday.

RI School of Design (RISD) has planned MLK Jr. events in Providence. Day of Service, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, 35 Camp St., RISD and the Mt. Hope Learning Center partner to celebrate King’s teaching by inspiring children to reach their full potential through the arts, crafts and special activities. 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Click here for details.

Greater Boston

I also wanted to check on what Kids4Peace Boston was doing because I know they are into service. Youth from the interfaith organization are volunteering on MLK Jr. Day at Solutions at Work. Matt says, “Approximately 12 of our teens will be helping to revitalize the space at Solutions at Work, which works to end homelessness in the Boston area.” Click here for some of the nonprofit’s other MLK Jr. service options.

Next year I hope to reach more nonprofits to give them — and the idea of a service day — publicity.

Photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki
Martin Luther King Jr., Washington DC

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A 70-year-old California homesteader’s shack near Joshua Tree national park is now a light installation, Lucid Stead.

When architect Michael Graham Richard talked to artist Phillip K. Smith about the work, Smith explained, “Lucid Stead is about tapping into the quiet and the pace of change of the desert. When you slow down and align yourself with the desert, the project begins to unfold before you. It reveals that it is about light and shadow, reflected light, projected light, and change.”

To Richard, the disappearing act that Lucid Stead achieves with reflections is a revelation. “Sometimes the best way to be part of the landscape is to blend into it,” he says. “Animals have been using camouflage for millions of years for survival, but there can also be aesthetic reasons to want to disappear, at least a little.”

In Smith’s creation, he continues, “the desert itself is used as a material,” as is reflected light. Check out a slide show here , at Treehugger.com, which highlights the artist’s use of solar power. Be sure to note how amazing the “shack” looks at night (slides 7-9).

Photo: Steven King, Phillip K Smith, III/royale projects contemporary art

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Some posts at Andrew Sullivan I only need to glance at briefly and bells go off: for example, this entry about an artist who works with coral.

Andrew quotes Amelia Urry writing about Courtney Mattison, who became enamored of coral while studying conservation biology at Brown University and moonlighting at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“Mattison’s newest piece, Our Changing Seas III,” says Urry at Grist, “depicts a hurricane-spiral of bleached corals coalescing to a bright center. You can read it as a message of hope or one of impending doom, depending on your disposition …

At the heart of Mattison’s artwork is her desire to inspire real-life changes in how people view and treat the world’s oceans and environments. Similar to the Our Changing Seas series, Courtney Mattison’s Hope Spots collection comprises 18 vignettes, each of which represents a vital marine ecosystem in its ideal form (that is, protected from various threats such as global warming or pollution).” Read more at Grist, here.

Art: Courtney Mattison
“Our Changing Seas III,” a ceramic coral reef

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Here’s a lovely story by Bella English at the Boston Globe.

Like many other people who feel helpless after a tragedy, illustrators of children’s books wanted to do something useful last April 15 and were delighted to be asked to give their talents.

“After the Boston Marathon bombings,” writes English, “Joe and Susan McKendry of Brookline wanted to do something. …

“Joe, an artist who teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design, thought he could auction off a couple of paintings he did for his first book, ‘Beneath the Streets of Boston: Building America’s First Subway.’

“But then he realized he had something more valuable: connections to other artists. Why not make it a group project? We Art Boston was born, with dozens of artists contributing paintings or illustrations to the cause: the emergency and trauma fund at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“The fund helps children and families get the treatment they need ‘when faced with a tragedy,’ says Stacy Devine, an associate director with the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. What began as a response to the Marathon bombings expanded to include all traumatic events. …

“The McKendrys also wanted to hold a community event for children to get more directly involved. On Oct. 20, We Art Boston is hosting a family day on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, right across from the New England Aquarium.

“All of the donated artwork will be framed and on exhibit, and people can bid on them through volunteers who will place the bids online using iPads. Several of the illustrators will be there and will sign books or, for a donation to the cause, draw portraits of stuffed animals for children who bring their favorite one along.”

More.

Henry Cole’s “Penguin Pride” (l8-by-12 inches, framed) has a value of $550 and a suggested bid of $250.

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Following up on my tree entry a couple days ago, I want to tell you about what two Rhode Island School of Design teachers decided to do with one ancient tree.

An old elm tree that met its end two years ago at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline might have been headed for the chipper, but two faculty members at Rhode Island School of Design had a better idea,” writes Cate McQuaid in the Boston Globe.

“The elm, designated as a witness tree by the National Park Service because it was present as history was made, provided material for the Witness Tree Project, taught each fall by RISD associate professor of American studies Daniel Cavicchi and artist Dale Broholm, a senior critic in the school’s furniture design department.

“Undergraduates took two classes, one in history and one in woodworking. They visited the site, studied Olmsted, often recognized as the father of landscape architecture in the United States, and made objects inspired by what they learned.” More.

Photograph: Dale Broholm/RISD, Witness Tree Project
Wood from the Olmsted Elm after it was processed at a saw mill in Lunenberg last summer and made ready to start a new life.

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Nancy L. urged me to take a look at the work of Providence-based artist Anne Spalter. I found fascinating, kaleidoscopic videos and stills at various online locations.

From her artist statement: “Anne Morgan Spalter creates art works that explore her concept of the ‘modern landscape.’ The works depict modern landscape elements or ways of viewing our surroundings and use traditional materials as well as digital imaging, printing, and video.

“Spalter takes hundreds of digital photos and videos each year, often from the windows of moving cars and planes, that capture both technologically advanced ways of moving through the landscape and the modern structures that are in it …”

She is the author of The Computer in the Visual Arts, which former RI School of Design president Roger Mandle described as, “a seductively articulate and illuminating introduction to the rapidly expanding world of the computer and art, design, and animation.”

She and her husband are collectors of early computer art. “In early 2011, the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA,  exhibited works curated from the collection,” notes Spalter’s c.v. MoMA has shown pieces from the collection, too.

This video, called I95, will amaze anyone who has driven that daunting thoroughfare.

Find some stills from videos by Anne Spalter here.

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