Page 1

Rhode Island School of Design SPRING / Summer 2012

Hard Times Making a Creative Living Road Trip to Reality Happiness Revisited





Conversations online, incoming, ongoing

Impact why people give to risd

20 Making a Creative Living It’s never easy for artists and designers to figure out how they want to make a living. But four alumni who graduated just as the recession hit—Jazzmen Lee-Johnson 06 FAV, Julia Sherman 06 PH, Chelsea Green MID 07 and James Minola 07 ID—are actually discovering that the economy can’t keep them down.



photo by Ben Blood

Listen reflections, opinions, points of view

› 60

Look at creatively alternative jobs

62 Where We Were a blast from the past

64 Where We Are class notes and profiles

› 14

46 Six Degrees alumni network news

› 78

53 Two College Street campus community newsbits › 56

96 Sketchbook sketches, doodles, ideas in progress

› 89



Road Trip to Reality

Happiness Revisited

Drawn to the struggles of people who can barely get by, photographers Justin Kimball 85 PH, Tom Young MFA 77 PH and John Willis MFA 86 PH often choose to travel together to make compelling pictures of the realities of everyday life.

With work included in the Whitney Biennial and a New York solo show opening in May, Nicole Eisenman 87 PT is ostensibly quite happy. Then again, her paintings tell another story.

thoughts from the editor

Hard Times Living in the US, we can’t help but be painfully

aware of the economy right now. Even if you’re not hurting economically, the signs of persistent un- and underemployment are everywhere. We feel gas prices suddenly climbing again, along with the cost of food, flights and fun. Yet, in the midst of the Great Recession—certainly the most significant one most of us can remember— everywhere I turn I see and hear about RISD people who are working, as hard and as persistently and as creatively as ever. Alumni in more traditional fields like advertising, architecture, education, publishing and the like have clearly felt the squeeze as agencies, firms and public school systems have tightened their belts in recent years. Many have lost jobs that paid good, solid salaries—and with them a sense of security and peace of mind. Yet, in the midst of all this, the entrepreneurial energy is palpable in the RISD community, with startups in the creative sector contributing to a sea change in the American work force. In fact, the recession actually seems to have spawned a new wave of employees-turned-employer as freelance work continues to grow exponentially. Even many alumni who collected their hard-earned degrees just as banks were collapsing and bubbles were bursting and Madoff was making off with millions show signs of doing OK, at least relative to people who rely more on 20thcentury models of what it is to make a living. In this issue of RISD XYZ we take a look at why that is—why people who learn to think and problem solve through a rigorous, studio-based art and design education somehow appear to be especially resourceful and resilient when it comes to finding

Let us know how you’re managing during the recession:

editor’s message by

Liisa Silander

illustration by

Kaleb Durocher

and creating meaningful work. It’s not that that’s easy or devoid of struggle. But RISD artists and designers seem to be remarkably adept at maneuvering through a bad economy. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that creative people often live, work and play outside the mainstream economy to begin with. But I suspect there’s more to it than that. Take the 2006 and 2007 graduates we talked to for our lead feature Making a Creative Living (20–31). They’re not exactly fearless, but they are willing to take risks. And scary as it is, risk-taking—combined with the self-confidence, creative thinking and sheer will to succeed that characterize so many RISD alumni— seems to be what it takes these days. Throughout this issue, you’ll find plenty of examples of alumni taking risks. In good economic times and bad, that’s what RISD people do—in their work, their lives and their livelihoods. Sometimes that leads to immediate gratification; at others, to failure. But as you know, there’s nothing like a fantastic failure to fuel success. As RISD alumni, it’s your capacity to rebound and risk everything for what you truly want to do in life that sets you apart. It’s what allows you to not only survive hard times, but in many ways, to actually revive and drive the new economy.


Becky Bermont EDITOR

Liisa Silander 401 454 6349 P R O D U C T I O N C O O R D I N AT O R

Elizabeth Eddins 00 GD DESIGNERS

Kate Blackwell Kaleb Durocher Elizabeth Eddins 00 GD Sarah Rainwater WRITERS

Francie Latour Liisa Silander CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

cover (+20 – 31) |

New York-based artist Julia Sherman 06 PH (juliasherman. com) creates photographic tableaus like these by mining canonical art history, feminist theory, folk traditions and a range of personal anxieties. The images on the cover and above are from The Habit, a recent project focused on the garments nuns traditionally wear. The cover image is of Julia in her studio wearing a replica of the denim habits

worn by nuns she stayed with in Connecticut—the Benedictine sisters of the Abbey of Regina Laudis. “This is their ‘work habit,’” she says, “which their founder designed when she moved here from France in order to connect to the American blue-collar worker.” After RISD, Julia went on to earn an MFA in New Genres from Columbia University.

Listen (8 – 9) |

Long before coming to RISD, Martin Goebel MFA 10 FD was traditionally trained in cabinet and furniture making at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg, CA. As he points out in the Listen commentary in this issue, he really honed his skills and found his voice at RISD, but left with plenty of questions about how to pursue the life he wants to lead. A native of St. Louis, he returned to his hometown in 2011 and is now fully committed to making Goebel & Co. Furniture a success.

Anna Cousins Michael Fink Gillian Kiley Frank Lukasik 58 MD Paula Martiesian 76 PT Ki Ho Park 86 PH/  MFA 10 D I R E C T O R O F A L U M N I R E L AT I O N S

Christina Hartley 74 IL PRINTING

Lane Press Burlington, VT printed on 70# Sterling Matte, a recycled stock FONTS

Quiosco + Antenna by Cyrus Highsmith 97 GD RISD XYZ

Two College Street Providence, Rhode Island 02903-2784 USA Published two times a year by RISD’s Media group, in conjunction with Alumni Relations. I N I T I A L C R E AT I V E D I R E C T I O N

WellNow Design O N T H E C OV E R

Presence in Absence (Modified Denim Habit) (2011, C-Print) by Julia Sherman 06 PH

alumni portraits (18 – 19) |

Freelance illustrator Lauren Nassef 01 IL regularly creates commissioned work for The New York Times, Real Simple, Print Magazine and The Washington Post, among others. She lives in Chicago and often does book covers for The University of Chicago Press, where her husband Isaac Tobin 02 GD is a senior designer. Lauren did the cover image in the very first issue of RISD XYZ (Spring 2010) and sells selected prints of her work via her Etsy store.



faculty memorial tribute (51) |

Sketchbook (96 – 97) | Artist and

Terry Sapp 92 IL contributed a reminiscence in response to the announcement about Gerry Immonen’s death in the last issue of XYZ. When not serving as the Public Health Emergency Coordinator for Baltimore County, MD, he travels the world as Armadillo: The Official Twisted Sister Road Reporter ( armadillo). Terry is currently in Europe blogging about shows in Norway, Sweden, Spain and Belgium, and expects to have enough material to write a novel by the time Twisted Sister retires.

illustrator Rich Pellegrino 06 IL (rich lives and works in Providence, where he blogs about his work and sells a series of celebrity prints via Etsy. His painted portraits of film characters like the Dude, Willy Wonka, the Darjeeling Limited trio and Bill Murray (see page 84) have been exhibited, collected and reprinted widely. Rich has illustrated several picture books and debuted a new graphic novel, The Anchor of Her Wings (written by Jayson Badessa) at last month’s Comic Con in Boston.


Postmaster: Send address changes to Office of Advancement Services RISD, Two College Street Providence, RI 02903 USA Or email

online, incoming, ongoing

Totally Heartwarming

This beautifully handwritten letter conveyed the “impossibly” wonderful message reprinted below.

You are to be commended very highly for your fine magazine. I am always thrilled on its arrival. Full of accomplishment! Providence always means the place where the seemingly impossible could be realized for me. What I see and read in your pages supports this: Young people realizing their dreams and aspirations; faculty becoming more razor keen and essential in what they devise for their classes— new concepts consistently in tune with our complex and challenging society. Your current students give back so much to our culture and environment after they graduate. Your publications accounts for much of it so eloquently and visually. Seemingly impossible events for me? » In May 1964 my roommate (Dudley Giberson 67 SC) and I survived a lethal fire at Angell House (men’s dorm) and lost everything, including final foundation projects. Dean Sam Hershey said: “Well, Pete, you have three weeks. Let’s see what you can pull together.” I, glad to be alive, made up all the burned final work— again. Some learning took place about “impossible.” » I, who had never earned a college letter for anything athletic, became co-captain of the RISD

intercollegiate sailing team. RISD did have a crack sailing team thanks to Lloyd Dyson BArch 65, Charlie Chamberlain 68 PH, Pam Resch Tarbell 67 AE, Rosalie Post 67 PT, Bobbie Rowe 67 ID and all the others. We raced tech dinghies out of the Bristol Yacht Club, Ravens at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; and Lee Post skippered an elegant Herreshoff sloop out of Cold Spring Harbor, RI. » RISD sent me to Rome in 1966 along with the rest of the beloved “Lucky 27.” Too many good stories about this year for this ‘short’ letter; but we were invited to Professor Tom Sgouros’ home on the Island of Hydra in the Aegean’s wine-dark waters for holiday break. Seven of us attended, then on to Istanbul.

Find more RISD conversations at and

» In 2002 Margaret and I moved to Providence where I eventually got to teach many courses at RISD— in CE and its summer Pre-College Program, after being a costume model for Painting and Illustration majors. » Oh, yes! Clarita Shaffer (sister of Mary Shaffer 65 IL) and I had a wonderful 15-year marriage and she became mother of Tom and Francesca, both of whom lead visual lives. So, I was brother-in-law to the late, much-missed Hardu Keck MFA 64 PT. So you can see how my septuagenarian, not-toocurmudgeonly heart is totally warmed by RISD XYZ as I read and re-read each copy. Nice going, good job! Impossible? Lucky? Peter H. Dudley 67 PT (EHP 66–67) Greenfield, MA

Spring/summer 2012


Missing the Passion So, I recently saw on my Facebook feed that this year the annual RISD Alumni Reunion will be especially for graduation years ending in 2 and 7, which means that for the first time my class—the Class of 2007— will be far enough out of college to have a REUNION. WHAAAAAT?! The further into the past my college days get, the fonder the memories become—and I actually have quite a problem with doing that across the board, so I know that as I sit here in my comfortable apartment with my dog and not-Ramen dinner it’s easy to romanticize my days stuck in my studio until the wee hours of the morning. I also have a car, gainful employment, cable, a bathtub and gorgeous LA weather now—pretty much everything that I grumbled about not having while hoisting my wet oil paintings up and down College Hill in the snow for four years. Still, the grass is always greener and I find myself missing everything about college—and Providence, too. Waterfire, the trolley, Antonio’s Pizza on Thayer, the RISD Museum, The Pit (helloooo mac and cheese), the Nature Lab…. But I think most of all I miss the genuine enthusiasm everyone had for exploring and playing and experimenting and collaborating and creating. Yes, there were nights when I did not want to draw a deer skull in minute detail because I was delirious with sleep deprivation. But overall the school was abuzz with genuine passion and ambition and I NEED TO CAPTURE THAT AGAIN. My natural inclination is to spend my leisure time doing something that will qualify as productive— ideally something that I can sell, something that will make me money. But more and more I’ve been struggling with this tight feeling in my chest pushing me towards just playing and experimenting like I used to, with no consideration for adding it to my portfolio or tailoring it to a particular client or brand. I think after several years of strictly advertising and digital design I’m finally ready to go back to drawing and painting simply for personal enjoyment. As for the reunion weekend, I think I just found a worthy investment for my ’11 tax return! Serena Halsey 07 IL Los Angeles, CA (from her blog, posted 3.30.12)

Loving the Rah-Rah


WOrds more or less

We aren’t alone in the struggles we face each day. Occupier Nate Barchus 10 IL speaking to the media from Zuccotti Park in early November

I look and dress less like shit. Sarah Verity 12 GD quoted in the student web weekly The All-Nighter on how she has changed since Foundation year

I have to laugh a little to see myself at 60 years old now enjoying the big school rah-rah football experience that was so looked down upon during my years at RISD. I just completed my fourth season as a documentary photographer/videographer for the University of Oregon Ducks football. I strive to capture the field play from the sidelines as well as the spirit and activities of the players, the cheerleaders, the marching band and the awesome Autzen stadium fans. I’ve traveled with Oregon Athletics to the Holiday Bowl and BCS Championship games and recently documented the Ducks victory at my second Rose Bowl. Tom Emerson BArch 74 Portland, OR



Find more RISD conversations at

Art isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s a need-to-have for innovation. President John Maeda in an interview with

Darby Roach MFA 85 GD in The Huffington Post (2.22.12)

My next flirtation with it came almost as a joke. RISD visiting artist

Tomory Dodge 98 PT speaking about his attraction to abstraction

It’s a nice feeling to be recognized by the school that prepared me for my career. Nicholas Felton 99 GD on Twitter (3.22.12) referring to the award he’ll receive at Commencement (see page 46)

Cut the Crap So much good stuff in the new issue, but the word “crap” on the front of the cover and the image of someone barfing on the back of the cover did not do much to make me want to open the magazine. Once I did open it, the copulating cows in the interior did not exactly add a fine varnish to the issue. Must RISD take up the puerile irony banner? Aren’t we—the educated—supposed to be leading our young into paths of distinction rather than trying to join in their snickering? We are like an old teacher trying to look hip. I wish RISD to be better. I submit that none of us need the cow copulation, the barf or the crap coming at us from RISD. I have enough of those in my real life. The barf and the crap. Not the cow copulation.

Book Lovers I like the new RISD XYZ. It’s full of great energy! Although it’s been many decades since I was a student there, I am interested in what is going on at RISD—and what is going on is exciting! You asked for feedback on the recent issue (Fall/Winter 2011/12). I really love books—for many reasons—and after reading this excellent issue I am reassured that actual books are not going to disappear. I am so glad! Emily (Gantner) Sola 52 PT Ticonderoga, NY

See more from Emily on page 49. The Fall/Winter alumni magazine featuring books was incredibly beautiful and very informative. Would it be possible for you to send me another copy? I want to share it with my Art Education classes at RIC [Rhode Island College]. I also enjoyed your editor’s message. Thank you and your staff for producing such an outstanding magazine. I have enjoyed each issue. This latest one is my favorite, probably because I love books so much. Carole Villucci 60 AP Barrington, RI

Tell us what you think:

Wow. Great work! The school looks so, so great in your latest.

Affectionately, Natalia Ilyin MFA 91 GD Bainbridge Island, WA

Dennis Congdon 75 PT Professor + Painting Department Head

Rehoboth, MA The latest XYZ is just wonderful. I think it keeps getting better and better! I am so proud to have been a part of this publication in the past. Patrick Hamilton 86 GD New York, NY

I just wanted to write a quick thank you for including Chin Music Press and RISD grad Jennifer Shaw’s Hurricane Story [see page 8 Fall/ Winter 2011/12] in your latest issue of RISD XYZ. The issue was gorgeous, right up our alley theme-wise and we were thrilled to be included in it. David Jacobson Chin Music Press Seattle, WA

I just spent a lovely hour-plus looking at the most recent XYZ issue—I think it’s terrific! Kudos to you and your staff at RISD. I especially enjoyed this issue because I spent most of my professional career in the publishing world.

Kerfuffle re: XYZmail I am shocked to see Arresting Portraits Now at MoMA, by Deanna Lawson MFA 04 PH, appear as the top photo of my email [November 2011 issue of XYZmail]. I could have been at work when checking this! Not appropriate imagery for family or work environment. If I wanted nudity I would go look for it. Yes, the human form is beautiful, but this is in the wrong context. It is too sexual of an image to be appropriate for an alumni email. Please be more thoughtful in editing photos to appear in XYZmail and any other emails or printed pieces. Gabriela Huser 97 GD San Francisco, CA

NSFW means Not Safe For Work. I’ve heard from other RISD alumni that they found the last issue of XYZmail offensive. While I wouldn’t call it offensive, I do believe that any depictions of nudity should be forewarned by the sender by including “NSFW” in the subject line. Many people stay in touch with RISD through their work emails, or open up their emails while at work—please take this into consideration in the future. Ashleigh Smith 08 GD Washington, DC

Editor’s note: Will do.

Patricia White 64 IL Cambridge, MA

Spring/summer 2012


RISD People Stick Together

I want to share a story that might be of interest among alumni and XYZ. Yesterday, two days after I got my show [see page 74] published in the Providence Journal, I got a letter from Mr. Wilfrid Gates BArch 65. The letter contained a slide—taken in 1970—of old buildings being demolished. It explained that my article prompted him to dig out the slide, which he was sending to me in case I could use it for my purposes. He said, “I commend the slide to you for whatever use you may find for [it].” Although I currently have no use for it, I was very moved that Mr. Gates made an effort to send it to me. I have done a few shows in Korea and in the States, but I have never received such a letter. It just goes to show you that RISD alumni stick together no matter how long the gap is after graduation. Ki Ho Park 86 PH/MFA 10 Barrington, RI

Sometimes we feel miles and years away, but knowing that I can reconnect with folks at RISD is comforting. Daniel Bruce 01 SC Long Island City, NY

Providential On a train home from Florida last week I had dinner with a delightful woman who said that she’d gone to art school—RISD. She is Barbara Norris 65 IL. We sat together at breakfast along with a woman whose daughter, Amanda McCorkle 98 GD, went to RISD. She owns Color Quarry graphic design studio in Providence and when I Googled that I found her spotlighted on the Pinwheel Books page. We were all amazed at the coincidence of our being on the same train and meeting (“providential,” perhaps?). I told Barbara and Amanda’s mother that I’d pass this along to you. Not sure what you will do with it, but we thought it was newsworthy! Noel Bailey 63 AP Lisbon, NH

Department of Corrections My name is not spelled SOO YOON LYM. It is spelled: SO YOON LYM. So Yoon Lym 89 SC North Haledon, NJ

So wonderful to see my images used in the last issue of XYZ, but you have my major wrong on page 43. Even though I’m a photographer now, I graduated in Illustration, not Photography. Thanks again for featuring my work. Steven Rosen 81 IL Brooklyn, NY

10 m o re

WOrds more or less

Time to retire: they made a movie about the time I was young. Misha Beletsky 95 IL on FB (4.19.12) referring to the news about the Obey the Giant film

Julian Marshall 12 FAV made as his senior project (see page 89)

In architecture it’s a hot topic. Nathalie Jolivert BArch 12 referring to the treatment of political prisoners—in response to a recent talk at RISD by social activist Angela Davis

It’s very nice to be back in the driver’s seat. Bryan Konietzko 98 IL speaking on NPR (4.13.12) about The Legend of Korra, the new animated kids’ show he and Michael DiMartino 96 FAV created for Nickelodeon after the movie version of their popular Last Airbender series tanked

My mom just used #meme appropriately in a sentence. Awesome. Carly Ayres 13 ID on Twitter

I’m pretty chill about it. Francis Boncales 12 IL responding to the student web weekly The All-Nighter re: how he feels about graduating



Find more about all things RISD at

make risd yours this summer Pre-College Program Summer Studies Art + Design Courses Textiles Summer Institute Summer Institute for Graphic Design Studies Continuing Education Summer Term risd continuing education 345 South Main Street, 2nd floor Providence, RI 02903 800 364-7473 (press 2) | 401 454-6200

Young Artist Summer Camps + Classes for kids and teens > 2-week morning and afternoon classes for all ages > Evening classes for teens > 1- and 2-week day camps in Barrington and Providence

All skill levels welcome! Registration is happening right now. risd continuing education 345 South Main Street, 2nd floor Providence, RI 02903 800 364-7473 (press 2) | 401 454-6200

reflections, opinions, points of view

“You never work as hard as when you need to eat.”

Sustenance I spent my early career as a studio


Martin Goebel MFA 10 FD



furniture maker creating every terrible idea my eccentric clients presented. In the fall of 2008, I entered RISD after six years of making custom furniture on my own and being kept afloat by moral and financial support from my parents. I spoke the formal language of furniture making fluently but lacked a design language—and more importantly, a voice of my own. In my first year at RISD, I probed my way through the vast knowledge base of the Furniture Design department. While experimenting with digital design, I made the weird, the ill-advised, the ugly, and even an object someone referred to as “void of design.” Through this massive deviation, it occurred to me that this wasn’t what I wanted to say. Between my first and second year in the master’s program, I spent four crucial months working in another extreme context—as an intern in the engineering department at Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers in Maine. My unique ability to cross-train between the design and engineering departments was welcomed since Moser was struggling with a massive communications disconnect between low-tech, hand-sketched designs and a cutting-edge engineering process that routinely butchered these designs in the process of making them production-ready. Right after this internship, I returned to RISD for my second year and my thesis came screaming out. Through continued study of digital design and computer-aided manufacturing, I solved many of the glaring issues raised through that summer experience. I found not only my voice but also my ability to cater to an exponentially larger audience through fully

integrated design and manufacturing. I spelled out the process in my thesis and called it “synthetic craft.” After graduation, my job search unearthed the same lackluster story: each “unique” creative firm was on the “cutting edge of design” looking for a “rock-star [insert job title here].” It dawned on me that though I could probably find a job to meet my monetary needs, none offered a creative outlet that bridges the glaring gap between the design and manufacturing worlds. Each opportunity offered high design in its most sterile sense, and I just couldn’t foresee connecting with the work. Maybe I had an unrealistic idea of what my career should look like, but it seemed odd that in Brooklyn or Chicago—the classic design oasis of the Midwest—  I would be designing or production managing poorly made “premium” products. I thought, ‘I’m 28 and buried in student loans. Should I design objects for a lifestyle I don’t live, don’t want to live or don’t have any attachment to?’ I had been offered jobs at design firms that create $40,000 executive desks made of MDF and lots of gloss lacquer. But what about durability? Was I really OK just abandoning everything I had struggled to learn? Just because I could work in that realm didn’t mean I should. To feel fulfilled, I knew I needed a job that meant more than money, more than a lifestyle and much more than the company name on my business card. I needed to connect with the entire process from tree to table.

For more on Martin’s work, go to or email

A new ( ad ) venture

Goebel & Co. Furniture is a 100%, real-world implementation of my thesis. We opened our doors a year ago in St. Louis, Missouri—in an old Coca-Cola syrup factory, five blocks from the banks of the Mississippi River, a stone’s throw from the first Budweiser brewery and in a part of the city where 800 square feet of pristine residential loft space costs under $600 a month—for good reason. As a new business willing to help revitalize this part of the city, Goebel & Co. qualified for tax subsides that offset significant portions of start-up costs. We sometimes deal with city inspectors looking for “handouts” and regularly dodge the “women of ill-repute” who work the park a few blocks down. There’s no coffee shop on the corner, people don’t visit on a whim and there’s really only one reason to come to our production space: work. With Goebel & Co. we are looking to reach the largest number of people possible and make products for those interested in a more considered way of living. It’s important to me to merge well-designed with well-made. Our products are all designed in Solidworks and our material is harvested within a 100-mile radius of St. Louis, processed to our specs and delivered with the bark still attached. We slice the timber into blanks and send it off for CNC milling. When it comes back, it’s assembled and finished in-house to our exacting tolerances. Goebel & Co. produces seven production pieces in batches of 10–30 that are designed for a number of residential uses (with three more designs to come in 2012). The China hutch can be reconfigured as a media cabinet or dresser. Doors can be added. Drawers can be removed. Our production method is based on “mass customization,” using a basic framework in order to create many options with like components (think Henry Ford meets Jonathan Adler). Utilizing existing regional manufacturing infrastructure, we reduce overhead by farming out components to automated machinery fabrication. There is no need to carry the leases on half-million-dollar machines or full-time employees (beyond a skeleton staff). By utilizing existing infrastructure through solid-modeling interfaces, we avoid the pitfalls of existing businesses running at 60–70% of production capability. Terror, the great motivator

Goebel & Co. is my first venture minus the family safety net. I’d like to think: “Failure is not an option,” but it’s a massive option that both terrifies and motivates me every day of the week. I’m not just in this with two feet, but with everything I own—and most importantly, with my ideals.

Goebel & Co. keeps overhead costs to a minimum by producing a limited number of production pieces with modular parts that can be reconfigured in different ways.

What we put forth as creative people is the physical manifestation of our thoughts, our selves—portions of our soul. Our creations become snapshots of our lives. For years I had talked about creating production lines, but until I went to RISD I lacked the physical skills, conceptual tools and necessary mindset. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, not only for creative fulfillment but also for the basic necessities of life. You never work so hard as when you need to eat while living the way you choose— which means intertwining life and work. I’m not worried about money in the sense that more of it will allow me to do what I want to do. This is exactly what I have always wanted to do. “You never work as hard as when you need to eat” means more to me than literally earning money to put food in my stomach. It’s a metaphor for feeding my greater appetite for life, as I want to live it. Creative fulfillment while creating objects that will endure beyond my own lifetime is as important to me as breathing and eating. Why do either one if it’s just to perpetuate an unfulfilling existence? Spring/summer 2012


No more 9–5? Experiment.

Prehispanic Nibbles With an unorthodox idea in mind but no real urge to enter the high-stakes restaurant business, Monica Martinez MFA 09 SC turned to La Cocina, an incubator kitchen in San Francisco that helps food-oriented startups. The business that emerged is literally a startling success. Don Bugito, her “Prehispanic Snackeria” food cart, serves insect-based cuisine, including wax moth larvae tacos and toffee mealworm ice cream that sells out as soon as she hits the streets. Rejecting the heavy environmental costs of large-scale farming, the Mexico City native wants to change the way we eat—in part through Wurm-Haus, her micro-farm for cultivating edible mealworms at home. Locavores, take notice: The trip from your very own Wurm-Haus to table can now be measured in inches.

Monica Martinez MFA 09 SC

Countdown to Extinction If you didn’t quite buy the doomsday predictions that were so prevalent last fall, Thomas Quinn 03 GD is banking on the idea that this year’s prediction is a whole lot more, um… plausible? After all, a mere 5,000 years ago the ever-prescient Mayans picked December 21, 2012 as the true day the world will end. So, with that in mind, Quinn dreamed up The Apocalypse Calendar and recruited 11 other artists—including fellow Illustration grads Ryan Browne 03 IL, Dan Hertzberg 03 IL, Matt Moore 03 IL,  Chandler O’Leary 03 IL and Maris Wicks 03 IL—to contribute their personal vision of how it will all end.

Thomas Quinn 03 GD



top: photo by Michelle Edmunds

Beat It Right after RISD, Antonio Bolfo 04 FAV worked for Harmonix, doing animation and concept design for games like Guitar Hero and Amplitude. But ever since the World Trade Center towers crumbled on 9/11 the native New Yorker had been thinking about going into law enforcement. “I wanted streetlevel experience, so I opted to be a cop,” he notes on the New York Times’ photo blog LENS. “I really thought I could make a difference. Save some people.” After two years as an NYPD beat cop, he left the high-stress job and picked up a camera instead, returning to his old beat to tell the story of what it’s like to patrol housing projects in the South Bronx. Now freelancing full-time as a photographer for Reportage by Getty Images, his photos are published everywhere from TIME to

Antonio Bolfo

Vanity Fair. In 2011 the one shown here won him a first-place

04 FAV

prize from the National Press Photographers Association.

Fiction Comes to Life What do you do if you’re entering the job market at the height of the recession? If you’re Lauren Mackler MFA 09 GD and living in LA, you freelance as much as possible, find an adjunct faculty opening at Otis College of Art and Design, and, oh yeah—you establish a museum…. or a faux museum in the form of a storefront and a print publication. Since the Museum of Public Fiction opened in Highland Park two years ago, Mackler has transformed the art and performance space into Public Records, a fictional record store that played with the concept of records vs. archives; The Free Church, a spiritual center with its own symbols and texts; a secret restaurant; and several other intriguing conceptual spaces. Her accompanying publication, also named Public Fiction, combines ephemera from each installation with related local news.

Lauren Mackler MFA 09 GD

Lee Patrick Johnson MFA 11 CR

Nursing a Creative Habit As résumés go, this one is about as intriguing as they come: Brooklyn-based social, video and new media artist moonlights as a psychiatric nurse. Add in a bit more detail and you’re talking the artist’s key to success—diversify. Just this year Lee Patrick Johnson MFA 11 CR also earned a SPARC (Seniors Partnering with ARtists Citywide) grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council and the NEA. It’s allowing him to teach Brooklyn’s senior citizens how to blog and use Etsy while making tile and ceramic objects to sell online. Thanks to a $10K Kickstarter campaign that reached its goal in March, Johnson is now hoping to recreate and sell Evolution, a line of functional ceramics he’ll market through Affected Productions.

Spring/summer 2012


Good idea? Start a business.

Goodness in a Nutshell If it was an obsession with fabrics that got her started, the fortuitous advent of Etsy didn’t hurt one bit as Cynthia Treen 94 ID worked to transform the seed of an idea into a sweet little business. Through Threadfollower, the Providence-based designer sells supremely satisfying kits that guide handstitchers of all abilities in making their very own “personal pet.” In addition to fitting in the palm of a hand, each kit-ling— made of felt, stuffed with merino wool, packed in a recycled cardboard box—makes a teensy little carbon footprint, too. Treen is also among the many makers who participate in the seasonal RISD Alumni Art Sales, meaning on May 5 she was out there on Benefit Street attracting even more followers.

Cynthia Treen 94 ID

Stephanie Ward 98 AP

Feeling Punky? When a friend asked Stephanie Ward 98 AP to design her wedding dress, the favor spiraled out of control, leading to Now based in Washington, DC, Punk Rock Bride offers

Irina Kozlovskaya

nontraditional bridal gowns that are far more comfortable

05 ID

than most, with some women claiming they could sleep

Aaron Tsui

not just one gown but an entire collection—and a business.

in them (and not because they’ve passed out from severe corseting). Punk Rock Bride has picked up Best Wedding Vendor accolades from Bride & Groom in both 2011 and 2012, and in a nod to hard times, Ward introduced a new line last year. Called Emma, it’s a “more budget-friendly online option” for brides living on a shoestring.



03 ID

Prices Too High at the Pump? Test drive a pair of spnKiX and you may be ready to garage your gas-guzzler. The motorized über skates Peter Treadway 96 ID has spent years researching and developing can be “driven” for three miles on a single battery charge, using a handheld remote control. A devotee of the kind of personal mobility generally restricted to the realm of fantasy—think jet packs and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang— Treadway spent years bringing the spiffy shoes to market. The miniaturization of key technologies allowed him to integrate the necessary components for the skates into a wearable design. And despite the down economy, a 2011 Kickstarter campaign reaped nearly five times the $25K startup costs needed to go into production. Next up: flying carpets, anyone?

Peter Treadway 96 ID

Vigorous Start

Irina Kozlovskaya 05 ID and Aaron Tsui 03 ID had no significant start-up capital when they left corporate jobs in 2009 to start their own firm. At a time when most people looked at the economy and saw nothing but doom and gloom, it was a ballsy move. But within a year, Vim & Vigor already had a staff of seven designers racking up awards. The founders say they gambled on their energy, enthusiasm and creative agility. But their emphasis on full-service product development—from brand identity to manufacturing support—didn’t hurt either. They’ve designed for Wedgwood, Waterford and Nest Fragrances, among others, and their work

Rachael Becker 04 AP

on Barnes and Noble’s NOOK tablet e-reader and accessories has attracted wide attention. Tasume, their origami-inspired NOOK cover, supports both portrait and landscape hands-free viewing and the NOOK Stella reading light won the 2012 Red Dot Design Award.

Heavy Leather In 2008 Rachael Becker 04 AP ignored the financial meltdown that started just across the river and instead focused on building her Brooklyn business around two solid passions: leather and heavy metal. Through Heavy Leather NYC, she makes custom guitar straps for rockers like Slash, Black Sabbath, Lemmy Kilmister and Judas Priest, and for acoustic players from Lisa Marie Presley to Toots & the Maytals. Becker works closely with her clients to create what she calls “guitar armor”— one-of-a-kind designs using embroidery, patches, metal and carved “lace leather.” She also makes cuffs, belts, camera straps, limitededition dog collars and motorcycle seats, all of which can handle the wear and tear anyone turning to a place called Heavy Leather NYC expects.

Spring/summer 2012


Tired of compromise? Be resourceful. Anne Shackman 82 GD

Washed Up? Brooke Budner 04 PT

Anne Shackman 82 GD has lived near some of the most beautiful beaches in the world—including Bondi Beach in Australia. So, sickened by the deluge of garbage on Venice Beach in her adoptive city of Los Angeles, she began picking up bits and pieces of it on her daily runs. Marina DeBris— aka Shackman—soon started making art and clothing out of the trash, and now offers a Trashion line on her website Washed Up. In May she’s bringing her International Trashion Fashion Show to the EcoXpo in Sydney, Australia and to two events in Tokyo.

Alexandra Wolf 88 SC

Dirt Lovers In 2007 as the economy started floundering and the cost of food climbed skyward, Brooke Budner 04 PT decided it was time to act on a budding idea. Partnering with Caitlyn Galloway, she turned a weedy lot in her San Francisco neighborhood into the first legal commercial farm within city borders. Little City Gardens challenges the logic and economics of large-scale agriculture by offering a viable model for urban farms. Its two lead farmers love being “immersed in the dirt,” selling herbs and produce at a farmer’s market and to Community Supported Agriculture shareholders, restaurants and caterers. Budner hopes urban farms like hers will fully flourish in the US so that more communities can use small spaces to make a big impact on America’s food system.

Second Nature Artist, designer, color consultant and consummate multi-tasker Alexandra Wolf 88 SC isn’t letting the recession keep her from testing bark up the right tree, the first prototype for a new line of toys and games she’s developing called 2nd nature toys. Designed to teach children about plants, animals and evolution, the series — with illustrations by Arianna Fioratti Loreto — uses visual pattern recognition to explain concepts that grow more complex with each successive game. After bark, a concentration game based on recognizing the skin of 26 different varieties of trees, Old Maidenhair will feature the same trees but show their leaves, flowers, cones, seeds and fruits. Expansion plans for the company include manipulative toys, mobile applications and online games for players of all ages.



John Peterson BArch 90

Thirst to Help More than a billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water, says Soaib Grewal 11 ID, who teamed up with several Brown students in 2010 to launch WaterWalla. Their mission? To bring clean water to India’s slums. Neither a charity nor a for-profit business, the social enterprise continues to draw attention as it makes headway tackling this chronic publichealth issue in a country long known for extreme economic

The Other 1%

disparities. Grewel relocated to India after graduation to head WaterWalla’s Mumbai office. Now, as CEO, he’s overseeing all

This isn’t the 1% the Occupiers condemn. It’s a new part-

aspects of the India-based team, working to partner with key players in the community, build capacity and invest his creative problem-solving skills in a venture with payoffs far greater than a good salary.

nership John Peterson BArch 90, founder of the nonprofit

Soaib Grewal 11 ID

organization Public Architecture, is finally formalizing in May with the American Institute of Architects (AIA). After lobbying for years to get members of his profession to make a stronger commitment to public service, this year Peterson got the AIA to back his proposal to create a design equivalent to the NEA’s 1% for Art program. “If every architecture professional in the US committed 1% of their time to pro bono service, it would add up to 5 million hours annually — the equivalent of a 2,500-person firm working full-time for the public good,” says Peterson, who visited RISD in December to speak about best practices in socially conscious design.

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No office? Collaborate.

Fresh Air in Town Started in 2008 by artists Bowie Zunino MFA 09 SC and Eve Biddle, the Wassaic Project began as an effort to restore a dilapidated grain elevator that had come to symbolize the decline of Wassaic, NY, a former mill and ironworks town. With the help of Zunino’s husband Jeff Barnett-Winsby MFA 06 PH, the project has grown exponentially and now includes an annual summer festival, studio space, a print shop, a performance venue, a residency program, a workshop series, a garden and the town’s only bar—reopened and run by Barnett-Winsby. “Not your typical art practice, I know,” Zunino says. In some ways, the project is community-based art at its most experimental and expansive: It not only embraces a wide range of disciplines and partnerships, but has come to be embraced by an entire town, on a very intimate scale—neighbor by neighbor, skeptic by skeptic.

Pete Oyler MFA 09 FD

Jay Salvas 02 GD

Art / Design /Action from the Fringes Convinced that not every good artist can deal with the expense of living in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, Pete Oyler MFA 09 FD and Jay Salvas 02 GD teamed up with publisher Manya Rubinstein to create Outpost Journal. It’s an annual compendium of the innovative art, design and community action happening in underexposed cities like Pittsburgh—the focus of the inaugural issue—and Baltimore, the subject of the second, due out this year. Making Outpost is a nonprofit labor of love supported by Kickstarter campaigns, donations and nationwide distribution. A limited-edition screen print, a city guide and profiles of art-makers make each issue special, as does the public art project that accompanies it, like a handknitted sweater for Pittsburgh’s Mr. Rogers statue, and the forthcoming large-scale light-based installation for the Natty Boh building in Baltimore.



Bowie Zunino MFA 09 SC

Jeff Barnett-Winsby

Mercury Rising


Founded in 2008, Studio Mercury burst out of the gate with such force you’d think the recession was a figment of someone’s imagination. By building on their collective strengths, Digital + Media graduates Lucas Roy MFA 08, Serena Kuo MFA 08, Clement Valla MFA 09 and twins Nate and Kirk

Studio Mercury

Mueller MFA 10 are doing great work that’s really standing out in the edgy multimedia


world—especially in the realm of interactive, iPad, eBook and tablet application design. So far the New York-based studio has made waves by translating Martha Stewart Living magazine to the iPad—winning the Tablet App of the Year award from the Society of Publication Designers. They also recently created backgrounds for a Kandinsky exhibition at the Guggenheim and the trailer for actress Diane Keaton’s memoir Then Again.

No Mockery Intended When she was working large—in steel and cast bronze—at RISD, Dana Schneider 82 SC didn’t exactly envision that 30 years later she’d be traipsing to and from Hollywood collaborating with costume designers and creating iconic accessories that appear in movies ranging from X-Men to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And it was “like winning the lottery” when she was invited to interpret and make the hottest piece of jewelry to emerge this spring: the mockingjay pin the character Katniss Everdeen wears in The Hunger Games (which quickly spawned a rash of knockoffs). Schneider now spends about 70% of her time making ornaments for the glitterati in the film and music industries. “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. If I go too long without making my own work, I get antsy.”

Asher Dunn

Setting Anchor

08 ID

really considered going to work for anyone else—or letting

Neither Asher Dunn 08 ID nor Matt Grigsby 05 ID ever a down economy prevent them from moving on with how they want to live and work. Dunn launched his community woodshop, Keeseh Studio, right after graduation, and then followed with his own furniture design business, Studio DUNN, choosing to stay in Rhode Island rather than move back to Michigan or do the migration south to Brooklyn. Grigsby also chose to base his design business in Providence, first working up with Joe Gebbia 05 GD/ID to start

Dana Schneider 82 SC

Ecolect in a studio warehouse space in Olneyville. Last year Dunn and Grigsby teamed up to renovate and create ANCHOR, a former factory space on the waterfront in Providence that now offers an inspiring community for startups, solo-preneurs and other creative ventures.

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Making a living as an artist or designer may not be easy, especially in a down economy. But having the creative capacity to both comment on hard times and transcend them goes a long way.

“I am happy to talk candidly about this. I just don’t have some wild financial success story to tell.” Julia Sherman 06 PH

Making a Creative Living { page 20 }

Chelsea Green MID 07 18


James Minola 07 ID

illustrations by Lauren Nassef 01 PT

Jazzmen Lee-Johnson 06 FAV

John Willis MFA 86 PH Tom Young MFA 77 PH

“It’s about struggle. And I find beauty in the struggle.”

Road Trip to Reality

Justin Kimball 85 PH

{ page 32 }

Happiness Revisited { page 40 }

“The world can be a depressing place these days and my opinion of it necessarily filters into the work.” Nicole Eisenman 87 PT

Spring/summer 2012


Ora et Labora (2011, C-Print) is from The Habit, a project by Julia Sherman 06 PH revolving around nuns and how they live, work and dress.



making a living Congratulations, freshly minted RISD alum: You’ve earned a degree from a leading art and design school and are now equipped to create and innovate across disciplines. After untold hours in the studio—wrestling with challenging problems and mastering all sorts of materials—you’ve sharpened one of the most important tools you’ll need in life: your own self-powered work ethic. Now, go forth!—into the harshest economic climate in at least a generation.

by Francie Latour

Ev ery year ab out 1. 5 m i ll i o n students gra duate

from four-year colleges and universities in the US; another 700,000 earn master’s degrees. That’s a lot of black caps sailing into the sky. And going by the hard data and headlines— “Employment rates for new college graduates have tanked,” the New York Times bluntly pronounced last year—record numbers of well-educated people are continuing to enter the labor market, despite a period of prolonged economic contraction. For the RISD graduates who collected diplomas in 2006 especially, the word “commencement” itself would come to take on a sobering double meaning: As they officially entered the labor pool, with well-wishers urging them to follow their dreams, make a difference and embrace the future, leading economists were beginning to mouth the words “recession,” “malaise” and “slide.” By the time the class of 2007 flipped their tassels, the housing bubble had burst, banks were teetering on collapse and unemployment rates were beginning to spike. Four young alumni with wildly divergent visions of their lives as creative professionals were among the hundreds of graduates who stepped right out of RISD and into this shrinking economy. They soon found themselves facing the same challenge: For the past six or seven years, each in his or her own way, Julia Sherman 06 PH, Jazzmen Lee-Johnson 06 FAV, Chelsea Green MID 07 and James Minola 07 ID have had to figure out how to make their own way in a brutal economy, while also figuring out how to live as artists and designers. These are not the stories of people catapulted to fame, selling million-dollar paintings or landing lucrative design positions right out of the gate. These alums represent a

Spring/summer 2012


different kind of creative: the kind that takes on work as a still photographer for horror flicks so that she can later immerse herself in making nuns’ habits; or that can convert a free trip to Belgium into a stop-over in South Africa to record a demo; or that can pivot from a consulting business to a production studio when clients disappear with the downturn. In other words, they are constantly adapting and readapting. In a Manhattan office, in the heart of Soweto, on an island in Seattle’s Puget Sound, these alums have learned to recombine their skill sets and shift their focus in the art world and the working world. They may not be recession-proof, but they are definitely recession-tested—even if they may not fully realize it. “I am happy to talk candidly about this. I just don’t want you to expect that I have some wild financial success story to tell,” Sherman responded when first asked to participate in this story. An emerging artist whose investigations of gender and material culture defy easy categorization, she’s working as a curatorial research assistant. “I don’t consider myself someone who has quite figured out how to profit from my artistic endeavors.” It’s a telling but not atypical response—one that references a very specific, almost mythic notion of the breakthrough artist or designer. But it’s also very much in keeping with the daily credo of many RISD grads, including these four: keep pushing to figure things out, and in doing that, recommit to the life of the working artist. Whatever that may mean. Miracle Workers

Julia Sherman and Jazzmen Lee-Johnson are New York-based multimedia artists who grew up in starkly different environments: Sherman and her parents lived mostly on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; Lee-Johnson was raised in a singleparent home in inner-city Baltimore. But the two share parallel influences that have shaped their approach to both art and survival: The first working artists they ever knew were their mothers, a fine artist and dancer, respectively. And because their mothers always juggled their art with other work, neither of these alums had any illusion that they could actually live off their artistic output alone. In a weird way, their recession-era resilience was forged by some of their earliest experiences—Sherman watching her mother’s disciplined studio schedule, Lee-Johnson drifting to sleep backstage during her mother’s late-night performances. “I think I was totally oblivious of the economy and what it would mean coming out of school, because I grew up in a household where my mom always struggled and she always figured it out,” says Lee-Johnson, an animator, painter, MC and musician who founded the black South African folk/ indigenous band Folk Told Me in 2009. To pay the bills, Lee-Johnson works as a freelance film animator and a visiting artist in New York City schools. And for the past two years, she has performed and toured with Lyrics from Lockdown, a critically acclaimed hip-hop spokenword show on wrongful imprisonment. In other words, she wears many hats, as her mother once did.




Jazzmen Lee-Johnson BFA 06

A still from Sherman’s 16mm film Mother-of-All (above), which deals with the Kabbalah’s ban on unmarried women spinning in the moonlight (considered a brazen display of sexual potential). Catch (C-print) is from her RISD days. far right: As Jazzmen Lee-Johnson 06 FAV noted in a recent Kickstarter pitch, her band Folk Told Me already has the “ill graphics” for their first record, thanks to her great style.

“I don’t consider myself to be someone who has quite figured out how to profit from my artistic endeavors.” Julia Sherman 06 PH

“My mom is a dancer, but basically she’s a miracle worker,” Lee-Johnson says. “She raised me by herself, she performed, she had her own dance company. A lot of her students were my friends and were kids of doctors and lawyers and professors. But I always managed to end up in the same schools with them because my mom would find some way to work at the school or figure out scholarships. I didn’t actually realize we were poor until I got to high school.” The lessons Sherman absorbed at home about making one’s art practice viable were strikingly similar. “I’ve never really had the expectation of living off of my artwork, especially as the work I’ve made has become more and more difficult to wrap up in a single package or live in a commercial realm,” Sherman says. Her post-RISD trajectory began on LA film sets as a still photographer and in southern Peru for She Goes Covered, a multimedia project on wig makers, Orthodox Jewish tradition and the global trade in human hair.

Last year her obsession with female religious communities and cultures of making led to a collaboration with a Virginia order of nuns and New York label JF & Son designing a series of habits, cloaks and collars for the order along with a ready-towear collection inspired by the designs. It was a fashion detour that grew out of The Habit—Sherman’s Kickstarter-funded project to create an open-source archive of lost sewing patterns for religious habits using hundreds of replicas housed at Michigan’s Nun Doll Museum. “I think the message I always got was if you’re going to do what you love, you’ve got to do it really well,” Sherman says. “Whether she was selling a lot of work or not, my mother was always at the studio making sculpture or painting, every day. So when I got out of school it was really important to establish a rhythm and a seriousness so that, no matter what, I’m going to be at the studio producing and making things.”

Spring/summer 2012


“It just lit a fire under me in terms of thinking about new ways that I could work.” Chelsea Green MID 07

Searching for What Works

Growing up on tiny Bainbridge Island, WA, west of Seattle, Chelsea Green also watched her parents’ careers closely. Seeing the life of two entrepreneurs up close, she decided that was the last thing she ever wanted to be. Or so she thought. “I grew up in a house where people were always starting new businesses and doing that very scary thing of putting yourself out there in that way,” says Green, who came to RISD for a graduate degree after graduating from Pratt and working for several years at D’Aquino Monaco, a luxury architecture firm. “Not having a regular paycheck kind of frightened me, and I didn’t think I would ever want to do that.” Bainbridge Island is 10 miles long from end to end, with roughly 23,000 people—just a little smaller than Manhattan but with about 1% of the population. When Green fled that life for New York in 1998, she was sure it would be for good. Interesting, then, that less than a decade later she returned to Bainbridge Island—to live and launch a business. She and fellow ID alum James Minola dreamed up Grain, a socially and environmentally conscious design studio, in 2007, at the dawn of the Great Recession. Their Bound line of textile-wrapped mirrors has been featured everywhere from Apartment Therapy to Elle Decoration UK and last year their fair-trade collaborations with Guatemalan artisans caught the eye of a buyer for Anthropologie, which now carries several of their products. Just as Sherman’s and Lee-Johnson’s early years foreshadowed their unscripted lives as working artists, Grain seems almost destined in its own way: Both Green and Minola were born in Southern California, their families moved to the Seattle area the same year and eventually, both had relatives living on Bainbridge Island.




But stories are all about hindsight. In 2002, as the überdirected Green landed an enviable first job with real creative freedom at D’Aquino Monaco, Minola was still searching for the right kind of design education. He had left the mechanical engineering program at the University of Washington, realizing that he was looking for something beyond endless calculations. He was looking for a way to develop his skills as a craftsman. “In terms of that question mark about choosing an art or design school instead of a more traditional path, in my case I had actually tried the traditional path. And it was not the right fit,” Minola says. “I was never the kid who was that really talented illustrator. But engineering school showed me that what I wanted or what I thought I liked about engineering was actually something else.” In 2004, soon after Minola began hands-on work at the Landing School of Boatbuilding and Design in rural Maine, Green started coming to her own realizations: maybe the stability of a well-paid design job wasn’t so ideal after all. There had to be more meaningful ways to use her design mind, she thought, than decorating big-budget interiors. When their paths finally crossed at RISD—in a Wintersession course in Guatemala—they immediately recognized how much they both had in common. Soon, the idea of starting a business that somehow reflected their fair-trade, eco-minded values gradually started to emerge. “In Guatemala, I could quickly see how all the things I knew about markets and accessories and interiors could be applied to designs celebrating these amazing craft techniques—and to getting them to market in a way that could sell and really impact these communities,” says Green. “It just lit a fire under me in terms of thinking about new ways that I could work.”

Chelsea Green MID 07 + James Minola 07 ID

Grain’s diverse eco-smart products include Electric Love Bangle, a colorful collection of bracelets made from reclaimed electrical wire; Ty DIY Edition, a recyclable plastic shower curtain that's like a blank canvas; Spool, a buildit-yourself modular system made from upcycled paper spools (with their original graphic patterns); and Café America, an indoor/outdoor chair made from the chain link used in fencing and able to be flatpacked for efficient shipping and storing.

Spring/summer 2012


For Habit Layer #1: SelfPortrait as Carmelite Nun, Sherman photographed herself in the storage closet of the Nun Doll Museum, where her research enabled her to recreate long-lost sewing patterns for making traditional habits. This led to a collaboration with JF & Son to create Community of Compassion, a contemporary collection of nun-inspired clothing (see inset below). As a commercial photographer, Sherman shows equal agility and ability— even when photographing blood, gore, guts and the occasional wedding for TV.

“It’s actually alarming to see something that is part of this year-long art project function so well in this other world.” Julia Sherman 06 PH




Julia Sherman BFA 06

Tricky Proposition

In 2006, the year Sherman and Lee-Johnson both graduated, RISD’s Commencement speaker was contemporary artist Kara Walker MFA 94 PT/PR. Hers was the kind of meteoric rise to which legions of young artists still aspire: Three years after graduating from RISD, she landed in the Whitney Biennial. That same year she was dubbed a genius—as the youngest recipient ever of a MacArthur grant. Walker’s success obviously didn’t depend on a boom economy. And yet, RISD Painting faculty member Dike Blair— a painter, sculptor and one of Sherman’s biggest admirers— notes that the recession has made the path to success more elusive than ever, even for very talented artists. “I look at people trying to work in this economy and…you just have to be incredibly resourceful. You have to go through every open door,” says Blair, who recalls an undergraduate Sherman finagling her way into one of his graduate studios and then forcing the older students to step up their game. “And as role models for that go, Julia is an excellent one. Julia makes the absolute most of any opportunity she’s pursued.” For Sherman and Lee-Johnson both, making the absolute most out of any opportunity has meant many different things at different times—a constant negotiation of logistics, ethics, collaboration, studio isolation and financial bottom lines. There are periods of deep fulfillment for sure. But in adopting similar career strategies—taking jobs almost solely to facilitate their own art—they have signed on for working lives full of stops, starts and instability. “To be an artist right now is a tricky proposition, because you have to be infinitely flexible and infinitely available,” says Sherman. “Most artists I know don’t necessarily want a job where there’s room to grow, because room to grow means room to take over your life, which means you can’t take a residency or be open to the opportunities that might come your way. But in an economy like this, nobody wants an employee who has made it clear their priorities are somewhere else.” For a while, doing still photography on movie sets seemed like the perfect solution. It allowed her to become extremely confident behind the camera. Friendships with makeup artists

and “really crazy Hollywood extras” occasionally led to creative collaborations. But for the most part no one cared that she was an artist, which was liberating. It was also the best money Sherman had ever made—better than what she earns now as a research assistant, better than the money she made last summer teaching remedial math and reading to elementary school kids in Queens. The problem was, it didn’t last: First came the 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike, then increases in the minimum number of work hours needed to qualify for healthcare. “There just came a point,” she says, “where I wasn’t getting enough work to make this make any sense.” Then again, Sherman’s foray into making nuns’ habits also ended up making little financial sense—an irony to which she readily admits. Everything about the project had fashion buzz written all over it: the clean ethereal designs, the novelty of a habit-inspired collection, the arcane back-story of religious vestments housed in a doll museum. And buzz it got, with spreads in W, the New York Times’ T Magazine, Elle and Cabinet. Volt called the line “fashion as art…intellectual yet playful, and even oddly sexy.” Yet Sherman ended up thoroughly in the red. Why? In part because she poured countless hours into the design and production process, after agreeing to a flat designer’s fee. But more than that, earning a profit was not the point: Her only goals were to create the latest installment for her ongoing art project and to make sure the nuns received their garments for free. So far, at least, Sherman’s compartmentalizing of employment and art seems to cut both ways. Would she love to be more financially solvent? Absolutely. But she also feels conflicted about the idea of commercial success. “It’s actually alarming to see something that is part of this year-long art project function so well in this other world,” says Sherman, who has also worked on a much smaller scale with nuns in Wyoming—to rebrand their line of soaps. “When you read about the habits in T—knowing that’s not where the initial impulse came from—I just panic about whether the original intention is lost.”

Spring/summer 2012


The Power of Panic

Occasionally, the Grain team is also known to panic. Take the day the major retail chain Anthropologie called wanting 900 of something, like Grain’s Guatemala-sourced cosmetic bags or nautically inspired rope mirrors. It’s a great problem to have, but up until that point, Green and Minola had never made more than 100 items of any sort at a time. And those smaller orders didn’t require them to frantically Google terms like “homogenized codes” or go through an elaborate training program just to qualify as a vendor. “It’s a fantastic opportunity in so many ways, not just in terms of having a wonderful, reliable client but also because it gets a lot of eyeballs on your work,” says Minola. “But if you want to talk about growing pains in a small business, doing those mirrors for them, it literally took up every square inch of space we had. We were making tables on the fly just to service that order—” “—and these things all have to be packed in pallets,” says Green. After five years of living and working together, Grain’s design duo has a knack for flowing in and out of each other’s thoughts. “So then we construct all these pallets in our




driveway and hope and pray it doesn’t rain. So it’s excitement, but also total fear.” Green says that getting a new business off the ground—and especially getting a new business off the ground from a small island during a big recession—is an exercise in suspending disbelief. But Grain’s success comes as absolutely no surprise to one of Green’s and Minola’s early mentors. “Chelsea and James are so emblematic of what my Guatemala course, Bridging Cultures Through Design, was all about,” says Mimi Robinson 81 PT, the San Francisco-based designer who conceived of and led the Wintersession travel/ study experience. “So much of that course was about the art of collaboration and not knowing what all the answers are. They’re remarkably talented and have wonderful ideas, but it’s really their stick-to-it-iveness and their ability to adapt that are their hallmark.” Adaptation has made Minola and Green very different kinds of designers than they were in school. To listen to them expound on things like packaging or the incremental changes in their mirror backings is to understand how much energy

James Minola BFA 07 + Chelsea Green MID 07

Grain produces the types of products Green and Minola believe in, such as Ty, a PVC-free plastic shower curtain that you can draw on and eventually recycle; a textile-wrapped Bound Hand Mirror; and Sololá, a purse made by Guatemalan artisans using upcycled vintage blouses woven on backstrap looms.

“It really was a reaction to the economy more than anything else. We needed to produce income for ourselves....” James Minola 07 ID

photos by Ben Blood

and time a new design business like Grain has to focus on logistics, supply chains, quality control and efficiency—and how little time that leaves to devote to pure design. They still doodle and dream; they’re continually adding potential items to their imaginary Grain catalogue of the future. But they’ve quickly learned the wisdom of being more practical and less precious: Their very first product, a PVC-free recyclable shower curtain, may not have been the sexiest launch in the world. But it spoke to their ideals, it was something they could afford to make and it remains a top seller. “Part of growing this business has meant letting go of this idea that something has to be perfect and totally refined and resolved before we can take it to market,” says Green. “This isn’t an art project. We’re a start-up business. We do as much as we can on a shoestring and we work really hard at it.” Green and Minola will take the panic of producing an order for Anthropologie or a Target pop-up shop any day. It’s far better than the panic they faced in 2007, when their original

concept for Grain was suddenly dead in the water. They thought they had a solid plan to launch a design consulting business focused on sustainability and social engagement. They had a couple of corporate clients, and were counting on spillover from RISD’s sponsored studios for more. “The idea was that RISD often gets approached by a lot of different companies for more projects or sponsored studios than they can take on,” says Minola. With Grain, he and Green figured they could step in as consultants, offering those companies a viable alternative. Then, the economy tanked. And there were no more clients. “All of a sudden we were running out of work and we were running out of money,” Green says. “How were we going to find new clients without a very big portfolio? We had no idea what to do.” And that’s where the whole becoming-a-critical-maker thing came in very handy: Almost as soon as Green and Minola experienced not knowing what to do, they started doing exactly what needed to be done. They scrapped their business model, switched gears and turned to their own hands. “It really was a reaction to the economy more than anything else,” Minola says. “We needed to produce income for ourselves, but rather than just giving up, we decided that as a new company, the best way to move forward was to actually make the kinds of products that reflected our vision and showed what we could do. We didn’t have to wait for someone else.”

Spring/summer 2012


Saving for Sankofa

If Minola and Green spent their first year post-RISD feeling the full brunt of an economy in collapse, Lee-Johnson left RISD in a kind of economic cocoon. Winning a Thomas J. Watson fellowship allowed her to travel around the world to pursue her own art and research with virtually no strings attached. Over the course of that year, the girl whose only previous addresses had been in Baltimore and Providence lived in Benin, Mali, South Africa, India and Brazil, studying folk traditions and the art and politics of resistance. “I experienced a financial independence and security that I had never experienced before,” Lee-Johnson recalls. “And I came back and was extremely culture shocked. I didn’t even know where to begin. I was feeling a synthesis of all these creative interests and skills—I want to do music, I want to be performing, I want to be creating films—but I had no idea what to do next or how to get there.” Stringing together work in the Baltimore and New York City school systems with visiting artist groups, Lee-Johnson saved every penny she could. Then, in September 2008, exactly one year after returning from her Watson year abroad, she was back in South Africa. She had $5,000 in her pocket—definitely enough to get her through her three-month trip, she figured. Then three months turned into nine months. “I must have been delusional,” Lee-Johnson says of the trip, in which she bounced from gigs doing animation for music videos to television work for a cell phone company—all while struggling to develop her niche and make music. “It’s one thing to have a grant and just live the life and be the artist. It’s another thing to work and save—and not save enough—and be in a foreign country and then try to make it work on your own buck.” Lee-Johnson is still struggling to figure out how to move successfully between two geographic and cultural worlds. Her artist’s heart and musical soul lie in Johannesburg, the place where she found her first real artists’ community outside RISD. It’s the place where she met the musicians she would later bring together as Folk Told Me, and it’s where she solidified her vision of multimedia hip-hop performance as a means to express and preserve the far flung cultural strands of the African diaspora. After recording a raw demo in the cramped home of a friend’s grandmother in Soweto, Lee-Johnson turned to Kickstarter, hoping to raise funds for a full-length concept album and accompanying graphic novel. “It’s the whole concept of Sankofa,” she says, invoking a core symbol in Akan language and culture. “Being vigilant about the past while moving forward.” But for nine months of the year, that expansive vision essentially grinds to a halt, as Lee-Johnson, still very much tethered to her home in New York City, works to pay the bills. She works as a teaching artist at Urban Arts Partnership, a nonprofit providing dynamic arts education to local schools. And she takes every freelance opportunity that comes her



“It’s been a long time coming…But I feel like this is going to be a good year.” Jazzmen Lee-Johnson 06 FAV

Lee-Johnson’s art portfolio and skills as an animator have landed her sufficient commissions to patch together enough to live on. But this year she’s planning to take her South Africanbased band Folk Told Me to the next step through a full-length concept album and an accompanying graphic novel.

way, on either continent. So far that has meant animation work for art films, documentaries and most notably, for South African artist William Kentridge’s 2010 staging of the Russian opera The Nose at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. “Straddling between two countries has been crazy. It’s been financially crazy, but also just crazy, period,” Lee-Johnson says. “While I was touring with another musical theater group, we got this amazing opportunity to go to Belgium. And it was like the royal treatment—everything was taken care of, we all had our own hotel rooms. We are rocking it at this festival and the prime minister of Belgium is introducing us. “From there,” Lee-Johnson says, “I fly to South Africa to record with my band. And we’re essentially transforming this living room into a recording studio ourselves, setting up mikes and soundproofing walls. We wrote and rehearsed and recorded and came up with a five-track EP. Then we played around Johannesburg, did some appearances on TV shows, all in less than a month. And then it was time to leave.” The group Lee-Johnson was touring with in Belgium performs Lyrics from Lockdown, the multimedia hip-hop theater piece that has sold out theaters from Harlem to Maastricht, in the Netherlands. Lee-Johnson joined the Lyrics cast in 2010 as the show’s only female voice; she sings and plays acoustic guitar and also created animation used in the performance. Bryonn Bain, the New York poet, prison activist, creator and star of Lyrics, says Lee-Johnson’s zig-zagging trajectory and perpetual freelancing belie a deep and innate sense of balance. “The thing about Jazzmen is, she’s wearing at least three different hats at any given time. She is constantly between different gigs,” says Bain. “But her vibe is also incredibly grounded. She’s like this old soul. She’s walking around in this body, but it’s like she’s been around long enough to know that things can get difficult and challenging, and that this too shall pass.” In March, as Lee-Johnson again headed to Johannesburg with her Kickstarter campaign completed, her voice sounded a lot like the rhythms of Folk Told Me, syncopated and full of possibility. The longest of her long-shot dreams—building a community art hub in Johannesburg, partnering with the Smithsonian on the black diasporic experience—remains far in the future. But for now, the immediate goals are more than enough: Sing. Rap. Strum. Record. Animate, illustrate and conceptualize. “My relationship with South Africa has been great, but it’s been stunted,” she says. “For a while now it’s been, you know, freelance, freelance, freelance. It’s been great working on other people’s projects, and I’ve done a lot in art and education that I’m proud of. But I feel like it’s really time to put my artist self in front. “It’s been a long time coming,” she says. “But I feel like this is going to be a good year.”

Spring/summer 2012


Three Photography alumni often reconnect and take to the road to make totally different pictures of regular people living on the edge.

 r oad trip to

REALITY by Nathaniel Reade J usti n Ki mball and h i s p h oto grap h i c posse

scheduled this three-day road trip months ago, but they don’t usually pick a destination until they get in the car. So on a cold morning in February, Tom Young MFA 77 PH loads his luggage and equipment into the back of a Honda Element and says to Kimball, “Where should we go?” Kimball, Young and their friend John Willis MFA 86 PH have been travelling together in search of pictures for more than 20 years. This works in part because all three of them are attracted to a similar type of subject: abandoned prisons, vacant houses, boarded-up psychiatric hospitals. Kimball calls these places—with their stacks of old newspapers, mattresses sprouting weeds, and open refrigerators (the one thing nobody steals)—“apocalyptic.” And in recent years, the Great Recession has made apocalyptic places much easier to find. “Let’s go back to Pennsylvania,” Kimball says. A couple of years ago, when he had first seen the empty factories and foreclosed houses around Wilkes-Barre, he had thought, “This place is totally fucked.” Young says, “It’s so depressing.” So why go? “Because it’s charged,” Young says. “Hard things are happening there. And I’m interested in hard stuff.” “It’s about struggle,” Kimball says. “And I find beauty in the struggle.” Says Young: “It’s like singing the blues.”





For the past 20 years John Willis MFA 86 PH has been making photographs at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the tribal home of the Oglala Lakota Sioux. “As an outsider it’s always an honor to be welcomed there,” he says. “These proud people live in one of the poorest counties in the US—literally the third world within the borders of the richest country on earth.” Despite living in poverty and hardship, the rugged individuals he has photographed over the years show a humility and kindness that Willis embraces as “rejuvenating—a reminder of what is really important in life.”

Spring/summer 2012


“Hard things are happening there. And I’m interested in that stuff.” Tom Young MFA 77 PH

Justin Kimball 85 PH is solidly built, with a silver earring in his left lobe and a slightly naughty glint in his eye. He first befriended the camera on a family vacation in 1973. His mother’s Yashica, he says, “let me connect with, and exercise some control over, my ever-changing environment.” He remembers making his first real picture at a hot, dusty carnival in the Midwest. It was of a carnie, sitting on the edge of a ride, drinking water from an old gin bottle. It seemed to tell a story—about work and struggle. Kimball chose to study at RISD because he knew he didn’t want to do commercial photography and preferred instead to be immersed in art. “RISD,” he says, “was a life-saver for me in a lot of ways.” It was the first time he met people who were interested in the same things he was—including people like John Willis, who was earning his MFA in Photography at the time. And it was the first time he realized he didn’t have to feel “like a pariah.” After grad school at Yale, Kimball took every teaching job At the start of every road trip, these three men do two he could find, no matter how part-time, poorly paid or far away. things. First, the meat-eaters buy sausage-and-egg sandwiches— At one point he was driving 800 miles a week to three different or what Kimball calls “heart-attack helpers”—while Willis states. In the early ’90s, Tom Young invited him to mount one (a vegetarian) puts up with it. Then they worry about the of his first shows—at Greenfield Community College, where weather. Given their spouses, kids, teaching responsibilities he was teaching. They became friends, and through Young he and individual practices, the demands of work and family make reconnected with Willis, who now teaches at Marlboro College it hard for them to find time for these trips. When they can in Vermont. manage to fit one in, they need to be productive. They need to Now, all three divide their time between teaching and make pictures. A little rain can be beautiful, but too much is making their own work, which appears in books and monoimpossible—and so is bright sun. As they head west on the graphs, private collections and exhibitions around the country. Mass Pike, Kimball peers through the windshield at the sky and In 2010 Willis’ photographs from 20 years of visiting an Oglala says, “Looks good. Overcast.” They want mood and nuance, Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota culminated in a and clouds help. book called Views from the Reservation. Young’s book of “visual The drive to Pennsylvania from their homes in western fiction,” Timeline: Learning to See with My Eyes Closed, is due Massachusetts takes about five hours. Willis couldn’t make this to be released this fall, as is Kimball’s new book. Called Pieces trip—he had a scheduling conflict—so Young rides shotgun of String, it looks at mortality through photographs of the while Kimball drives. “I do 90 percent of the driving,” he says, things found in people’s homes after they’ve died. “because I’m a control freak.”





Holding Tight (left) and Turn of Events (below) are among the recent works in Timeline, a series by Tom Young MFA 77 PH, who says that his photography is informed in part by the memory of his eyes being bandaged shut for weeks when he was a child. “While photographing I feel out of time—blinded from my everyday life,” he says.

“My photographs are narratives that speak to personal events ranging from the birth of my two daughters to the struggle with lifethreatening illness. They present a time-line that both subverts and embraces notions of a linear calendar.”

As they cruise along—sometimes sitting quietly, listening to the hum of the highway instead of music, other times talking about their families or kvetching about work—they seem a bit like the Odd Couple; different in many ways but also bonded by their similarities. They both wear oiled-cotton coats and shoot with 20-year-old Hasselblads. They both just bought the same Phase One digital back. Young, however, with his round, tortoiseshell glasses, is the more thoughtful, introspective one, Kimball the source of most of the expletives. By early afternoon they’ve driven about 300 miles to a gritty city called Hazleton, an hour south of Scranton, PA. It once supplied coal to the blast furnaces of Bethlehem Steel, a past now memorialized by abandoned strip mines and mounds of slag sprouting birch trees. A plaque on the side of the road in the nearby coal-mining town of Lattimer marks the spot where, in 1897, the sheriff’s deputies shot and killed 19 unarmed, striking coal miners in what came to be known as the Lattimer Massacre. In the past 50 years, Hazleton has lost most of its industry and about half its population—and the recession has only made things worse. Big national retailers have moved out, leaving empty storefronts, like in so many other ravaged towns across the country. The few people choosing to move here tend to be Latino, prompting the mayor to push for harsh antiimmigration laws. By the time Kimball and Young arrive in Hazleton, it’s also raining. “This sucks,” Kimball says. “Maybe it’ll clear up,” Young responds. Hazleton may be down-at-the-heels, but the severe poverty in the surrounding towns really speaks to Kimball. He and Young drive about half an hour south to Shenandoah, where about a third of the houses and businesses seem to be abandoned. It continues to pour, and then turns dark. No pictures. Young says, “Let’s go to Russia’s.” Russia isn’t Russian, but her grandparents were. She’s a tall, bleached-blonde hotel clerk with the flat vowels of a Pennsylvania local. Back when the posse was starting out—before their tenure-track teaching jobs—they searched out the $19.99 sleep-here-if-you-dare motels. Now that they’re getting older, they ache after hours of making pictures in the cold, so they want a place with a hot tub or a sauna. And Russia’s has both.

Spring/summer 2012


The next day Kimball and Young awake to bad news: sunshine. They drive half an hour south to a ghost town called Centralia. About 50 years ago the veins of coal under the streets caught fire, and it’s still burning. Young pulls his camera bag out of the back of the Element and walks around for a while. It’s below freezing. He’s wearing a Russian-style fur hat, with the earflaps up. Kimball is wearing green fingerless gloves. After a while Young says, “I don’t know. What do you think?” “The light’s crappy,” Kimball says. “And there’s not enough smoke.” “Yeah,” Young says. “Let’s get out of here.” They head for Ashley, which has one forlorn main street. Many of the stores have plywood windows and “For Sale” signs. The glass in a former gift shop is a spider-web of cracks, artificial flowers fading inside. The only places they see open are three bars, including one called the Drunken Monkey. “Screw it,” Kimball says. The sun is bright and harsh, but he parks on a side street and opens the back hatch. They’re excited by the challenge of the light, so they each attach their Hasselblads to tripods, balance the tripod over one shoulder and sling their camera bags over the other. Then they walk in separate directions. Young and Willis started these road trips together about 25 years ago, and invited Kimball along because they admire his work and like his company. At first, Kimball says, he was hesitant. ‘Make pictures with other people?’ he thought. ‘Why? You’re supposed to photograph by yourself.’ But after his first group road trip, he immediately recognized the advantages: Inspiration. Rich conversations about their individual processes and struggles. Fun. And pure safety, since some of the places they’ve photographed would be too dicey if they went alone.





“This is what a lot of America is these days. But most people don’t see it. It’s not a part of the conversation.” Justin Kimball 85 PH

Spring/summer 2012


Ashley’s main street runs along the valley of the town, with houses—many of them two-family—arranged in rows up the sides of the hills like seats in an amphitheater. Some duplexes are blackened with fire on one side, with new paint on the other. Some houses have small, fenced-in yards jammed with debris—bags of garbage, yellow plastic toys, stained couches—while the adjoining yard is empty and immaculate. Kimball is drawn to the contrast. The light’s still bad, but he sets up his tripod and shoots. At 12:20 his cellphone rings. It’s Young: “What do you want to do?” “Let’s go eat,” Kimball says. “I’m starving.” After a couple of diner burgers, they decide to return to Shenandoah. Kimball switches to a small, lightweight 35mm camera and wanders around. “This is what a lot of America is these days,” he says. “But most people don’t see it. It’s not a part of the conversation.” He sees a porch with worn outdoor carpeting and peeling paint, signs that read “Beware of Dog”



and “Do Not Enter,” and a big American flag suspended from its ceiling. On the sidewalk sits an electric disability scooter festooned with American flags. Broken house, broken man, patriotism intact. It’s an image suggestive of a photographer who documented an earlier economic meltdown. Kimball says, “It’s impossible not to think about Walker Evans when I’m out here.” Evans made his reputation with the publication of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which revealed the hardships of three Alabama sharecropping families. His photos remain among the most iconic images of America’s Great Depression. Evans also shot photos in Pennsylvania for the Roosevelt administration. Shenandoah makes Kimball think of one picture Evans created in 1935—60 miles away— called Bethlehem Graveyard and Steelmill. It shows a cemetery in the foreground, tenement houses in the middle and factory stacks behind. “It’s all still there,” Kimball says, “except that now the factory is closed.”

Forest Avenue, Bed (previous page) and Lyons Hill Road (right) are among the photos by Justin Kimball 85 PH included in his new book Pieces of String, due out this fall. Willis’ clothesline shot (below left) was included in his recent book Views from the Reservation, with proceeds helping to support tribal needs. Young’s photograph Marker is included in his new book Timeline: Learning to See with My Eyes Closed, which is also due out this fall.

Driving back to Hazleton, Kimball says he’s not sure where the day’s work might lead. But they’ve still got another day, and after dinner Young looks up the weather on his iPhone, reporting, “It’s supposed to be beautiful tomorrow. Overcast!” When Kimball gets up the next morning and opens the hotel’s vinyl-coated curtains, however, the first thing out of his mouth is: “Fuck.” It’s sunny again. Young scans the web on his iPhone, trying to find something they can shoot indoors. He discovers a closed prison in Jim Thorpe, a town nearby. They drive there, but it turns out to be a tourist attraction, so they head for a place called Concrete City. They shoulder their equipment and slog for half an hour through the woods to a cluster of abandoned two-family houses, built entirely out of cement for a railroad’s more fortunate employees. The buildings are overgrown now and covered with graffiti. Some of the cement roofs are cracked and falling in. They look less like houses than military bunkers. Clouds roll in. Finally. It’s cold and bleak, which makes Young smile. He admits he’s happiest when he’s exploring “an unknown that’s tinged with some kind of loss.” He disappears. Kimball makes photographs for four hours straight. He feels energized. Around 3 pm freezing rain starts to fall. Faced with a five-hour drive home, they stop photographing and plod back through the woods. On the drive home they discuss the day and what they discovered, as they always do. Next time, Kimball says, he wants to go back to Shenandoah. Young says, “That place is distressing, but I’d go back.” “Yeah,” Kimball says, “it’s bleak. But there’s something going on there. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet. All I know is, it’s something I need to be talking about.”

Spring/summer 2012


Happiness visited Wi t h wo rk i n t h e current Wh i tney B i enn i al and

a new solo show opening on May 24 at Leo Koenig Inc., her New York gallery, Nicole Eisenman 87 PT is the first to admit it’s been a good year. But that hasn’t kept her from continuing to consider tough stuff—the realities of life in 21st-century America. After all, in a “culture obsessed with happiness,” as she puts it, someone needs to knock some sense into us by providing “a ballast” to our cultural obsessions. When reflecting on the paintings and prints she has made since the recession peaked, Eisenman says she “realizes that they’re all somewhat depressed or depressing” but concedes that “the world can be a depressing place these days. I don’t think I’m depressed,” she adds, “but the state of the world— and my opinion of it—necessarily filters into the work.” Long known for referencing pop-culture in her work— from comic-book imagery like Wonder Woman to commercial products such as Brillo to literary constructs like Alice (the Wonderland wanderer)—Eisenman also alludes to art history as she creates wonderfully nuanced work that is as fresh and contemporary as it comes. “I’ve been looking a lot at Edvard Munch and the Impressionists lately,” she said in commenting on the works produced between 2009 and 2011, which include a series of paintings and prints she had almost no choice but to call Crying.





Crying Guy (2009, oil on canvas, 24 x 20")

Spring/summer 2012


“Sadness arises from particular circumstances,” Eisenman notes, “but it can move from the mind into the body, from something focused into something more general—a lethargy, that pit in your stomach.” In her Crying paintings and many of the untitled monoprints made in 2011, her figures are permeated with such an intense but unfocused unhappiness that they simply dissolve into patches of abstraction. Still, her paintings and prints of people experiencing real emotion ultimately feel a lot more positive and grounded than the surreal gloss of perpetual perkiness we get from America’s pop-cultural machine. It’s as if she’s simply reminding us that candy coating never does anyone much good in the long run.



Eisenman’s solitary Crying Guy II (2009, oil on canvas, 12 x 12") contrasts with the Bruegelian abundance of The Triumph of Poverty (2009, oil on canvas, 65 x 82").

“I don’t think I’m depressed, but the state of the world—and my opinion of it—necessarily filters into the work.” Nicole Eisenman 87 PT

Spring/summer 2012


“When I painted my first beer-garden scene, I immediately wanted to keep painting them—to paint them for the rest of my life. It’s the 21st-century equivalent of the grand public promenades and social spaces of the 19th century. It’s where we go to socialize—to commiserate about how the world is a fucked-up place.” Nicole Eisenman 87 PT

Sunday Night Dinner (2009, oil on canvas, 42 x 51"), above, and Beer Garden with Ash (2009, oil on canvas, 65 x 82").



Spring/summer 2012


connecting through the Alumni Association

Association Recognizes Nick Felton

Nicholas Felton 99 GD h as



Last year Fast Company named Felton one of the 50 most influential designers in America. Yet, rarely has anyone risen to such notoriety for spending “much of his time thinking about data, charts and our daily routines,” as he describes himself on his own site. The popularity of his annual reports—including his latest, the 2010/2011 Biennial Report—led Felton to co-found as a means for other people to keep track of their own personal stats. When the site caught Mark Zuckerberg’s attention in 2010, it wasn’t long before the founders were invited to join Facebook’s product design team—just in time to help launch Timeline, the third-generation redesign of the social network’s profile page, which some people have called a “scrapbook on steroids.” When asked about the challenge of designing for Facebook’s millions of users, Felton says that although “the scale is enormous… designing a successful product

For more on Nick’s work, go to

for an audience this size is very similar to designing a successful product at any scale.” Regardless of what you’re designing or for whom, the goals essentially remain the same, he says: “clarity, performance and ease of use.”

Felton—aka Feltron—has made a name for himself by obsessively thinking about data, charts and daily routines. Fast Company summed up Felton’s influence by noting that his fluency in the field of info graphics may dramatically alter the way we absorb information “not just on Facebook, but also on the rest of the Internet”— essentially “turning everyone into Nicholas Felton.”

photo by Nathaniel Welch Photography

become increasingly well-known for transforming obsessive introspection into an art form. Since 2005 that focus has led to a groundbreaking series of Personal Annual Reports that weave a year’s worth of day-to-day events in his own life—the number of movies watched, trips taken, cups of coffee consumed—into a complex data trove of charts, maps and statistics. Felton’s annual reports, along with amazing data visualizations produced for clients such as The New York Times, CNN, Real Simple, Esquire, TIME, Metropolis and this magazine have sparked an explosion of interest in the field of information graphics. At RISD’s Commencement ceremony on June 2, the designer will collect the Alumni Association’s 2012 Business of Design Award, given to an entrepreneurial graduate for excellence in the visual arts and leadership in the commercial sector. The Alumni Awards + Special Events Committee—headed by Becky Fong 05 GD (see page 48), with assistance from Robyn Ericsson BArch 87, Jonathan Cole 04 GD, Evan Larson 99 IL and Mark Guarraia 05 ID—pored over a roster of excellent nominations from the entire alumni body before making their final selection.

Portfolio Review Days RISD’s very vibrant Career Center has come a long way from the days when career advising consisted of a single part-time staffer and one lone binder of possible job opportunities. Case in point: the series of six Portfolio Review days this spring, which brought more than 240 professional artists, designers, art directors and recruiters to campus to review students’ work, help them improve their self-promotional skills and land the job of their dreams. Many of the professionals at this spring’s Portfolio Reviews were alumni, most of whom sought similar advice when they were students and are now happy to return the favor. Students met with representatives from nearly 160 companies as diverse as Converse, Continuum, DVF, Helmut Lang, Google, General Motors, HOK, Martha Stewart, Olin, Samsung and Wieden + Kennedy, among others. “These personal interactions are great for students because they practice their interviewing skills and get helpful feedback on their presentation skills,” notes Greg Victory, director of the Career Center. “And they also network with industry professionals who are often searching for RISD talent.” Every year students leave with internships or freelance or full-time job opportunities as a result of connections made at Portfolio Reviews.

Repaying Student Loans?

The Beauty of Behance In the interest of providing all members of our creative community with the best online tools for promoting their work, RISD has partnered with Behance to offer alumni free access to RISD Portfolios. You’re invited to make use of this new platform for free.

Like college graduates everywhere, many RISD alumni struggle to figure out how to handle payment and consolidation options, make payments on time (or strategically postpone them) and whose advice to trust. To help alumni get a handle on some of these issues, RISD has partnered with American Student Assistance (, a nonprofit organization that runs an online program called SALT. The tool is designed to provide tips on both handling your student loans and money management in general. SALT’s online tools are specifically targeted to alums who are three years out or less, so if that’s you, watch for more information coming your way via email. Even if you’re beyond the SALT target range, all alumni are encouraged to take advantage of its excellent financial counselors, who can be reached at 866 493–5563 or

It’s a great way to showcase your work to a larger creative community and take advantage of the social media connectivity and international exposure Behance offers as a new online leader in connecting “talent and opportunity.”

To join the network and upload your work, go to

Spring/summer 2012


In Love with RISD by Paula Martiesian 76 PT

As ten acious as she is v i vac i ous,

Becky Fong 05 GD

is a powerhouse of a young woman who knows how to get things done. In the short six months since she took over the RISD/RI alumni club, she has worked with cochair Mark Guarraia 05 ID and a dedicated group of volunteers to organize two exhibitions of alumni artwork, two crit nights, plus social and professional networking opportunities. “Becky truly loves RISD and believes in our mission,” says Director of Alumni Relations Christina Hartley 74 IL, who goes on to explain that organizing alumni groups close to a college campus is often extra challenging since proximity can be counterproductive. “Typically, the further away alumni are from the school,” she notes, “the more value they place on keeping connected.” A native Rhode Islander, Fong is the youngest daughter of Chinese parents who emigrated from Hong Kong. They surrounded their three children with love, generosity of spirit and a strong work ethic. She remembers her mother telling her, “You give whenever you can and you give without expectation of getting anything back.” Fong carries that advice with her everywhere she goes. Recently 48


hired as a RISD Admissions officer by day, she not only heads RISD/RI but is also active on the Alumni Council and takes on as much freelance graphic design work as time allows.

“You give whenever you can and you give without expectation of getting anything back.” Fong attributes her success to hard work and diverse life experiences. Her employment history includes stints as a graphic designer for firms in Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, including Gallagher & Associates, a company that specializes in the planning and design of immersive experiences for museum exhibitions. Her travel history is even more extensive. After a serious relationship ended in 2010, Fong returned to Rhode Island at loose ends. “I decided to

For more on what’s going on with RISD/RI, go to

take six months to sort things out and figure out what to do with the rest of my life,” she explains. So, knowing that she wanted to travel as a means of decompressing and re-focusing, she approached Hartley with a plan: How about if she were to meet with groups of alumni everywhere she went and find out what they might like by way of organized activities in their area? Over a six-month period in 2011, Fong traveled to Boston, Denver and Pittsburgh. She also visited Hawaii, Bali, Hong Kong and St. John. Everywhere she went, she stopped to speak with alumni, meeting with more than 400 in all. Through her blog, Where in the World is Becky Fong (which she now uses to promote and showcase RISD/RI events), she kept up a steady stream of impressions and shared what she was learning. As a result of her visit to Hawaii, she also helped jumpstart a new alumni club there. “It’s great being a leader,” Fong says, “but it’s even better when you encourage and inspire people to become leaders themselves.”




2 6 3

Club Stuff Whether it’s in New York, Hong Kong or Miami, alumni have been having fun reconnecting with each other via club events like the ones pictured here. (1, 2, 3) In October RISD/NY celebrated the season

Sweethearts to the End

with a predictably popular Wooly Ball costume dance party at The Wooly on Barclay Street. (4, 5) On

Emily (Gantner) Sola 51 IL + Bill Sola 52 PT After reading about RISD Sweethearts in the last issue, I turned a few pages and something familiar caught my eye: PORTFOLIO 1949 in the Where We Were section. It truly was a “blast from the past.” I began reading the Emily and Bill shown dancing small print on the page in this photo from the describing a ski trip PORTFOLIO 1949 yearbook. to New Hampshire during Christmas vacation in 1948. It was on that ski trip that I met my RISD sweetheart Bill Sola 52 PT. We were married a year and a half later. After Bill graduated he went on to get his MFA at Cornell in 1954. He taught art at Ticonderoga [NY] High School for the next 30 years and continued to paint throughout his life. I never finished my senior year at RISD but after our four children were all in school I started lettering trucks and soon became a very busy one-woman sign shop designing and producing signs as well as lettering trucks and boats for the next 40 years. We were married for 58 years and were sweethearts to the end. Bill died in 2008, but he is still my sweetheart.

December 1 RISD/Hong Kong welcomed President John Maeda as their special guest at an art show and artist’s ball at the Fringe Club’s lush roof garden. (6) And In south Florida, club leader Nessie Ruiz 06 PH did a bang-up job organizing a meet-up as part of the Art Basel Miami festivities in December.

More Ways to Connect Share your hard-earned career advice and ongoing inspiration with students by making your own video response to selected questions on RISD Connect. Sponsored by the Career Center and designed by Aaron Perry Zucker 09 GD of Big New Ideas, the new site encourages you to talk about your personal experiences. But you can also submit your insights in writing and propose news questions to pose to fellow alums. And thanks to Alumni Council member Jeffrey Yan BArch 01, there’s another new site that welcomes good ideas from all you alums out there who either have a story of your own to tell (via podcast) or who want to propose a fellow graduate to be interviewed. RISD Voice is designed to give alumni a central spot for sharing personal stories that are insightful, inspirational, fun, interesting and full of all the good stuff that makes our creative community so incredible.

To find out more about RISD Connect and RISD Voice, go to: and

Spring/summer 2012


Inspired by RISD by Design When New Yorker Jennifer Lengel 01 IL (jenniferlengel came back to campus last fall for RISD by Design weekend, she was immediately captivated by this view. “I was there for my 10th reunion, and wanted to paint some aspect of the RISD campus,” she says. “Even though the stair walkway has changed a lot since I was a student, I remember taking that route from Benefit to South Main three to four times a day.” This fall why not come see what else has changed —  and what has remained the same? RISD by Design 2012 runs from October 5 – 7 and now’s the time to make travel arrangements. Go to for hotel options and more info as it unfolds in the coming months.

Sparkling Memories by Michael Fink , professor of English

From the late 1950s I choose George Duke 61 ID and Victoria Roman 61 PT. George was a veteran, who wrote a very simple paragraph I remem-

ber about strolling about among sidewalks that were segmented like a mythical serpent. After graduation he moved to a houseboat in Florida, where I visited him. He had a calm expression and wide-open eyes, and I liked him for his inner poise and the graceful way he could describe in word journals as well as sketchbooks the most ordinary things and make them poetic and personal. Victoria used to visit me on a motorscooter and take me about here and there, showing me familiar places from a new perspective. Her mother was an elegant Russian: they stood as a reminder of the Russian aristocracy driven by the Revolution into lives of exile, distinguished by a kind of lively pride without arrogance. Vicky sketched me in chalk on the classroom blackboard in Benson Hall—with birds perched on my shoulders, a variation on the theme of St. Francis! It was a fabulous, slightly satiric, illustration—both mocking and admiring. The ’60s, of course, was the decade of roiling rebellion against authority, but my good student friends included Bob Oppenheim 65 PT, whose kindness and sympathy were a great comfort to me during my mother’s final illness. Bob, a close neighbor, the son of a German Jewish refugee-survivor, would show up at the pub on North Main at the corner of our block, clink a glass with me, and quietly cheer me for a few moments with his respect and concern. He was a Painting major and had made good friends with Ken Gaulin 65 ID, Pat Bartlett 65 AE, David Weindel 65 ID, Bill Stanhope 65 GD, Steve Maka 65 GD—the class of 1965, one of the happiest and most amiable alumni groups I can recall. At RISD you make allies within partnerships of creativity and inspiration. In liberal arts classes, no matter how hard you try, you have problems getting artists to speak up—to read slowly and deeply. They want to get back to the studio, to make something, to argue about craftsmanship. They respond warmly to philosophy and the realms of ideas and ideals, but you reach them more casually, naturally, intimately outside the lecture halls—in the galleries and coffeehouses. I admire my students and remember them not only by their handwriting, but by the fruits of their hands.

Crescent Moon and Pond by photographer Steve Maka 65 GD —  from “one of the happiest and most amiable” classes of alumni Mike Fink remembers.

Highlighting my memories of a half a century of RISD undergraduates is like staring at a black velvet night sky, filled with sparklers, planets and universes, each one teeming with its own secrets. It is a rather arbitrary and capricious exercise—to select a few who seem somehow to represent a particular moment in RISD time and in the fashions and styles of American culture. But I will start now and continue in installments still to come.


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Remembering “Teach” by Terry Sapp 92 IL

It seems as if it were yesterday that I nervously walked into the risd:store, long list in hand, wandering through the aisles with that “deer-in-the-headlights” look most Foundation students have. The sales clerk reads my list aloud: “Two packs of Chroma-rama sample papers, two triangles (clear), one 6", one 10"; one C-Thru Olfa cutting mat, three U-HU sticks, one jar of rubber cement…one dozen exacto blades.” Pause. “You must have Gerry Immonen.” I nodded as he gave me a sideward glance, as if I had told him I was joining the Marines and he was determining if I had the physique—and the mettle. He proceeded to fill my basket with every item, exactly as specified, and then patted me on the back with: “You’re one of ‘Gerry’s Kids’ now. Good luck. You’ll need it!” His words resonated in my mind as I entered the classroom and sat down. A very quiet, reserved man thoughtfully smoothed the ends of his neatly trimmed moustache, then ominously locked the door and calmly announced, “It’s now 8:01 AM by my watch. You will set your watches to synchronize with mine. You will not enter my classroom once we have begun because when you get out into the world, you’ll realize that a lack of punctuality will discredit you as artists and cost you your jobs. People won’t accept your excuses and neither will I.” Gerry’s phenomenal sense of color and composition was clearly evident in his own paintings, such as this one To the Place Where it Vanished (1998, distemper and gold leaf on paper board, 19.6 x 19 cm).

Foundation Studies Professor Gerry Immonen taught at RISD for 48 years, meaning he began influencing alumni who were at RISD in the 1960s.

“It appears that Gerry lives on in me, to this day.” And so our first lesson began with—not “Gerry,” not “Professor Immonen,” not “Sir”—but quite simply: “Teach.” It was just the beginning of his “shock and awe” approach. But that semester, whether it was the fear of humiliation or the desire to prove him wrong about our perceived unworthiness, every single one of us spent countless hours making sure that every cut, every stroke, every single action we made mattered when working on Gerry’s assignments. As the strict admonishments of the first few weeks graduated into more gentle reminders, Teach shared his almost boundless understanding of color, line and form. His ability to motivate us to work harder, longer and more precisely was eclipsed only by the tremendous love and dedication that he obviously had for each and every one of us. And by the end of our first semester at RISD, the personal growth in our section was noticeable and palpable. So it was with tremendous sadness that I read of the passing of Gerry Immonen last summer. While there were many professors at RISD who had a profound impact on me, it is Gerry’s voice that I hear most often in my head. His stern but quiet demeanor, his kindness and subtle humor, his true brilliance as an educator—all have stayed close in my conscience. Twenty years later I still have the same exacto-blade handle, the Olfa cutting mat, the triangles—and that damn 1" paintbrush that used to tremble in my clumsy hand. These days I am not working in the art and design field, but my co-workers often comment that I’m a strange dichotomy of seemingly militant discipline and loose creativity. It appears that Gerry lives on in me, to this day. Every task I perform, I recall the importance of punctuality, the push for perfectionism, the unbridled artistry. And I owe it all to the man we called Teach. My deepest condolences to those who loved Gerry, and to all of the current and future students who will never have the opportunity to experience the gifts he imparted to so many of us. Spring/summer 2012


The RISD Museum helped open the world of art and design to you when you were a student. It’s still here for you. 20% of your Alumni Membership is directed to the Phil Seibert [BFA ’67 IA] Alumni Acquisition Fund, which supports the purchase of works of art by RISD alumni. Join today! Call 401.454.6322 or visit us online at

exhibition highlights Painting Air: Spencer Finch Pilgrims of Beauty: Art and Inspiration in 19th-Century Italy The Dorothy and Herb Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Rhode Island America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now

Installation view of Painting Air: Spencer Finch, February 24 - July 29, 2012. Photograph © David O’Connor. Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design

Process. It’s something art and life share in common. by the time they graduate , RISD students have learned to internalize the creative process. They’ve gained amazing lifelong skills and the ability to see more clearly, including the big picture.

You can become part of the RISD process by investing in the next generation of creative leaders. And you can make a huge difference by simply planning ahead.

To discover the impact of gift planning—which is itself part of the process of thinking about your life and legacy—contact Louise Olson at 401 454-6323 or email

campus community newsbits

“Like many in their generation, our students are not just eager to make a living but to make something good happen in the world.”

The Power of the RISD Way message by

John Maeda RISD’s President

A number of alumni participated in the RISD Entrepreneur Mindshare ( event last fall, helping current students figure out how to make their own creative living. This spring many more artrepreneurship opportunities have been available on campus.

In March I had t h e h o n o r o f s p e ak i ng at

the National Art Education Association’s National Convention in New York, an inspiring gathering of more than a thousand art educators from across the country. Naturally RISD alumni were well represented and I was pleased to see familiar faces from our faculty, too, such as Professor Paul Sproll and ID Critic Amy Leidtke. I was due to address the audience about STEAM, our initiative to get the arts and design on equal footing with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education when it comes to the national agenda for driving innovation. Before my talk began, Patti (Fleck) Edwards 86 IL approached me to thank RISD for raising awareness and appreciation of art teachers in America. She echoed what I feel all the time— that the hands-on learning I see every day in RISD’s studios, the fearlessness to try things and fail, the deeply conceptual thinking and making that goes on here are the things that will propel our economy forward in the 21st century. During the conversation she handed me a package of 3M tekk earplugs and explained that these little squishy orange things—with their “triple flange design for a comfortable, snug fit”—are her “favorite design objects” because they perfectly embody a combination of great technology and great design, right down to the handy pocket case for storage. She noted that it’s these kinds of products that make the American economy strong. The stories in this issue of RISD XYZ deal with the complex relationships between artists and the economy. We think about this a lot on campus,

Follow President Maeda at +

especially in our Career Center, and in recent years have launched a series of initiatives around “artrepeneurship.” Like many in their generation, our students are eager not just to make a living, but to make something good happen in the world. Often, they see the best way to do this is to take matters into their own hands. Artrepreneurship programs like last fall’s Mindshare conference, hosted by the Career Center, give students the nuts, bolts and know-how to channel their inspiration into successful ventures. Our students and alumni are also quick to see the power of the ever-growing communities out there for creative entrepreneurs— like Etsy, Quirky, Kickstarter and Behance—so RISD has been equally quick to create productive partnerships with these online resources. On Kickstarter students are raising money for all sorts of ventures, from a new organic food truck called Radish to a film about the early formative years of artist Shepard Fairey 92 IL to the art car a group of students is building to take to the Burning Man festival this summer. And a couple of weeks ago, a group of students hosted the Make Big Dreams Expo on campus to help artists and designers determined to create their own jobs get the entrepreneurial support they need. As I write this message, news is traveling quickly about Facebook’s $1-billion purchase of Instagram, the social photography app. Say what you want about a company with no revenue being “worth” $1 billion, but to me this shows the extraordinary power of visual imagery in connecting people, and of the economic value of creative entrepreneurship. More and more, it seems, the world is recognizing the power of the RISD way. Spring/summer 2012


2012 Honorees

impact on contemporary culture: architect Wang Shu, who won this year’s Pritzker Prize and will also deliver the keynote address at Commencement; writer-activist Rebecca Solnit; and the directors and producer of the Japanese film animation house Studio Ghibli —  Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki, with Suzuki accepting the award on behalf of the studio. As one of China’s leading architects, Wang Shu is deeply concerned about the alienation of modern architecture from nature and cultural history, and advocates for seamlessly merging the built environment with the landscape. The author of 13 books, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit writes about art, politics, community, landscapes, ecology, memory and the environment, among other interests. Her latest book, Infinite City: A San Francisco Chinese architect and 2012 RISD honorary degree Atlas (2010), visually charts the recipient Wang Shu on learning that he won this diverse cultural geography and year’s Pritzker Prize history of San Francisco. Studio Ghibli was established When RISD holds its 2012 Commencement ceremony in 1985 by director and animator Hayao Miyazaki, on Saturday, June 2, approximately 448 undergraduates his colleague and mentor, director Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki to push the boundaries and 197 graduate students and their families will of traditional animation. Since then the Japanese celebrate the completion of their hard-earned degrees. studio has produced such phenomenal work as the Special guests at the ceremony include an international Oscar-winning film Spirited Away (2001) and its latest roster of honorary degree recipients who are being release, The Secret World of Arrietty (2011). recognized for their groundbreaking work and profound

“It proves that earnest hard work and persistence lead to positive outcomes.”

Sherman’s Significant Service to RISD

After five fruitful years at the helm of RISD’s Board of Trustees, Merrill W. Sherman will step down as chair in May, but continue on as a trustee. Originally elected to the Board in 2000, she served as secretary 54


from 2002–04, vice chair from 2004–06 and chair since 2007. That year she also led the Presidential Search Committee responsible for hiring John Maeda as president. Sherman’s leadership has brought about substantial improvements in the oversight and governance roles of the Board, along with significant changes in its composition, with alumni now accounting for approximately one-third of RISD trustees. She is responsible for refocusing the Board’s attention on RISD’s academic programs and reinforcing its role as America’s preeminent college of art and design. In addition, she led the successful restructuring of the Museum Board of Governors; spurred renewed focus on recruitment, enrollment and student services; successfully led efforts to increase diversity in the student body; and oversaw the completion of the Chace Center. Sherman, the former president and CEO of Bancorp Rhode Island, recently sold the bank and will now focus on her sizable civic work in the community. In addition to her 12 years of service to RISD, she has served on the boards of the Providence Journal Company, the Providence Foundation, the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, Johnson & Wales University and Crossroads Rhode Island. In 2010 U.S. Banker and American Banker named Sherman one of the “Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” nationwide. A new Board chair will be elected at the trustees’ meeting in May.

Showstoppers More than 180 MFA candidates who are about to graduate in June are pulling out all the stops this spring to showcase their final bodies of work in the Graduate Thesis Exhibition, which runs from May 18 – June 2 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in downtown Providence. clockwise from left: Dad #4 (Left Foot) by Odette England MFA 12 PH, Miscues on Our Mess by Anthony Giannini MFA 12 PT and jewelry by Kate Furman MFA 12 JM. Find out more — and see more work — at

Shared Voices Spurs Big Thoughts Over the winter half a dozen faculty hosts welcomed a trio of visionary thinkers to campus as part of Shared Voices: The RISD Presidential Speaker Series. “Our academic leaders suggested we bring some of the thinkers I’ve been inspired by to RISD to spark new conversations,” President John Maeda noted in announcing the series. Working with a small group of faculty to plan the visits, the president invited “people who would not only bring fresh perspectives, but whose own work would benefit from exposure to a RISD point of view.” Each of the speakers in the 2012 series was selected to contribute to the ongoing STEAM conversations at RISD about the natural symbiosis between art and science—in terms of inquiry, research, process—and the desire to exchange ideas more often with scientists, policymakers and others working within and beyond visually creative fields. In January Juan Enriquez, visionary thinker, writer and genomics and life sciences expert, spoke about the ramifications of Designing with Life Code, noting that our growing ability to “read, copy and re-code life is fundamentally changing how we think of and execute design.” Just as the digital revolution radically changed how artists and designers create and share imagery and other works, he expects the “vast new

programming language of life” to be equally revolutionary—to both creative practice and our everyday lives. In February theoretical physicist Lisa Randall, an author and professor known for being able to translate observations about quarks, leptons and gauge bosons into terms that non-scientists can grasp and appreciate, spoke about why artists should care about the amazing breakthroughs now taking place in the field of particle physics. It’s also the focus of her latest book Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World. “If the history of science has taught us anything,” she notes in the book, “it should be the shortsightedness of believing that what we see is all there is.” In March author, technology expert and cofounder of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly wrapped up this year’s series with a talk titled Screen Fluency, in which he discussed the importance of visual and multimedia literacy in a world where digital screens dominate how we access information. Kelly’s thinking has evolved and expanded into numerous books, including his latest, What Technology Wants (2010, Viking/Penguin), which looks at technology as a living, breathing organism malleable to our own needs.

To view videos of each of this year’s speakers, go to

Jessica Walsh 08 GD designed posters to promote the Shared Voices events.

Spring/summer 2012


Drain, the Ambassador

To mark its 50th anniversary, the US State Department’s ART in Embassies (AIE) office selected well-known sculptor Jim Drain 98 SC to create a site-specific work for a new US embassy compound being built in Rabat, Morocco.

As part of the unique, multiyear collaboration with the State Department—only the second of its kind between the federal agency and an art and design college—students worked with Drain to explore the history and culture of Morocco during an intensive Wintersession studio. The partnership is made possible by funding from RISD Board of Trustees Vice Chair Lisa Pevaroff 83 TX, whose own work is on view at the US Embassy in Montenegro. For Drain, a Miami-based artist and 2005 recipient of Art Basel’s prestigious Baloise Prize, the commission offers a rare opportunity to collaborate with future artists across disciplines to create a work on a global stage. “The crossover between disciplines is valuable, as each student brings a specific interest and expertise to the ideation process,” Drain says. “Together, we are focusing on how to incorporate materials in new and

unorthodox ways, building models, researching and discussing issues relating to cultural diplomacy.” Slated to be installed at the new Moroccan embassy once construction is completed (in 2014 or 2015), Drain’s sculpture will be unveiled on November 30 at a State Department celebration in Washington, DC to mark the 50th anniversary of AIE, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to attend.

During Wintersession sculptor Jim Drain 98 SC worked with students to conceive of a site-specific installation for a new embassy compound in Rabat, Morocco.

More than a dozen Foundation students mixed and mingled at the opening of the 2012 Foundation Studies Triennial Exhibition at Woods-Gerry Gallery wearing the “extreme” hats they completed in the fall Spatial Dynamics studio taught by Assistant Professor Wendy Seller 75 AE. Inspired by Savage Beauty, the over-the-top Alexander McQueen exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum last summer, Seller asked 42 students in both of her sections to not only design a hat, but to create “a structurally sound, wearable HAT form that takes design to the extreme.” Each piece was inspired by an established artist or designer of the student’s choice. All in all, the outcomes were as surprising and satisfying as much of the other work in the Triennial, which featured a sampling of the best student projects created in Foundation Studies during the 2011 spring and fall semesters. Among those were the handheld wooden tools created by students in the Spatial Dynamics sections taught by Deborah Coolidge MFA 80 CR. “The beauty of this assignment is that all of the tools 56


perform the same series of tasks,” Coolidge says, including enabling the user to pick up an egg, move it, break it over a bowl and then beat it. “But the students go off in very, very different directions and the end results all reflect something about their personalities or creative interests.”

As co-chairs of the exhibition, Seller and fellow Foundation Professor Ken Horii organized it around the theme of Process, which is clearly central to what the Foundation year is all about.

top: photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH

Fabulous Foundation

Swarovski Studio Sparkles

Making It to Milan In April RISD students reveled in the amazing opportunity to present their work to design luminaries around the world attending Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the internationally renowned design and furniture fair in Milan, Italy. Furniture Design students — including Anna Fulton 12 FD, who designed platform stilettos using fake fingernails; Tyson Atwell MFA 12 FD, whose Terra Light is made of 190 terracotta flower pots; and Jamie Wolfond 13 FD, who created Communicable Seats made of disposable syringes — showed their work in Transformations at Ventura Lambrate, one of the many related exhibitions taking place throughout Milan. Eleven graduate students in Interior Architecture also presented projects in the Salone Satellite area of the fair, which is dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging designers.

As part of a Wintersession fine arts lecture series and studio sponsored by Swarovski, the global manufacturer of fine crystals, students from a wide range of majors explored the properties and possibilities of Swarovski ELEMENTS, the company’s premium brand of fine crystals. Rashaad Newsome, a rising star whose work was included in the most recent Venice and Whitney biennials, brought his unique take on both fine art and street bling to RISD as the first guest artist in the series. Contemporary artists Heather Rowe and Alyson Shotz followed, presenting public lectures and helping to “fire the imaginations of the students enrolled in the sponsored studio,” as Painting Department Head Holly Hughes put it.

Runway Debuts One-of-a-kind creations by more than 50 talented young designers take to the runway on May 18 when the Apparel Design department presents Collection 2012 at the Rhode Island Convention top left: photo by Micah Barrett 12 GD

Center. Jurors this round were Hilary Gaul 90 AP, Gary Graham, Aaron Millhiser 02 AP, Professor Emerita Lorraine Howes and Tommy Hilfiger. This senior thesis collection by Jessica Resnick 12 AP is among the many great garments in the runway show, which also includes the works by Eric Dinges 12 AP and Zev Schwartz 12 AP shown on page 88.

For tickets and more information about Collection 2012, go to

Spring/summer 2012


Faculty Newsbites

Big Wins for 3SIX0

The ACE (Architecture Construction Engineering) Mentor Program has named Architecture Professor Jim Barnes BArch 69 one of five exemplary mentors nationwide. In May Professor Ellen Driscoll, head of the Sculpture department, will be presented with a Distinguished Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting projects by artists working in New England. Driscoll will use the award to create a new body of sculptural work. Work by Illustration faculty member Fred Lynch 86 IL is featured in the newly released book The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing on Location Around the World (Quarry Books, February

3SIX0, the Providence-based architectural firm run by Professors Chris Bardt BArch 83 and Kyna Leski, swept the 2011 AIA Rhode Island design awards announced in December, winning four honor awards for both their commercial and residential work. Among their winning projects was their design for Wildflour Vegan Bakery & Juice Bar (right) in Pawtucket, RI, which transformed a dark, nondescript corner of a 1970s strip mall into an airy and inviting space that beautifully captures the spirit of the business and its clientele. In addition, working with Professor Emeritus Friedrich St. Florian as Studio Providence, Bardt and Leski won a fifth honor award from AIA RI and another from the Boston Society of Architects/AIA (in the unbuilt category) for Three Pier Bridge, a pedestrian bridge proposed for the remnants of old highway piers in Providence.

2012). The book presents his drawings of Viterbo, Italy — where he works and teaches for the month of July — along with on-site drawings and paintings by 99 other artists that capture the flavor of 50 cities throughout the world. Building on the success of her book The Girls Who Went Away, Professor Ann Fessler has completed A Girl Like Her, a film that premiered in April at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival sponsored by Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies in Durham, NC. As with her book, the film focuses on women who gave up children for adoption in the decades prior to access to widespread birth

Takuma Ono, an adjunct faculty member in Landscape Architecture, has been named the inaugural MaederYork Family Fellow in Landscape Studies at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. During a three-month residency at the Gardner this summer, he will explore the potential use of dredged materials in the landscape, proposing viable alternatives for putting this waste to good use through public projects. Roger Pontbriand 59 IL, a former associate professor of Illustration who taught at RISD from 1961 – 91, passed away in February. Since retirement Roger had focused on painting lovely landscapes depicting the shoreline of Cape Cod, MA, which he loved.



Music Lover In his new book Listening and Longing: Music Lovers in the Age of Barnum, Associate Professor of American Studies Daniel Cavicchi draws a historic and cultural arc from the antebellum period to the 21st century, exploring the role that industrialization and commercialization played in shaping music fandom in America. Released in late 2011, the book has been getting great reviews for its scholarly rigor and skill at turning musicology away from a narrow focus on creators and performers and towards the social context in which people make and perform music. Cavicchi’s first book, Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning Among Springsteen Fans, examined the phenomenon of fandom, a subject the HPSS department head continues to write about on his blog, The Ardent Audience.

30 Years of Artists’ Books Bookmark, an exhibition curated by Professor of Graphic Design Jan Baker, presents highlights from more than 500 artists’ books made by students in her book arts classes over the past 30 years. The exhibition is on view at the Fleet Library at RISD through July.

bridge rendering: studio amd; top: photo by John Horner Photography

control in the US.

Impossibilities Now on View

photos by Erik Gould / courtesy RISD Museum of Art

Spencer Finch MFA 89 SC (inset below left) invited seven RISD students to assist in the process of painting the geometric and highly precise grid of colors in Painting Air, executed over a two-week period.

It started as a dare. In 1988 Spencer Finch MFA 89 SC and his friend and fellow classmate, contemporary artist Paul Ramirez Jonas MFA 89 SC, were roaming the galleries of the RISD Museum, debating the social significance of Impressionism. Immersed in Marxist criticism, Finch was convinced that Impressionist paintings were worthless, serving up nothing but decadent bourgeois ideals. So Jonas challenged him to try making one. “[Paul] dared me to copy the Monet painting The Basin at Argenteuil,” Finch says. “I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t.” Finch told this story when speaking with Judith Tannenbaum, Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum, in preparation for his solo show, Painting Air: Spencer Finch, which continues through July 29. The two-part exhibition, featuring his work as both an artist and curator, includes his attempted copies of the Impressionist masterpiece along with the original from 1874, which is part of the museum’s permanent collection. As it turns out, the act of replicating Monet’s study of atmospheric effects and natural light proved to be a turning point in Finch’s trajectory as an artist. A century after the Impressionist master famously said, “I want to paint the air … and that is nothing short of impossible,” Finch began to share that same obsession. For more on these and other stories, go to

However, his own fixation with color and light has taken on myriad forms, from drawing and watercolor to photography, video, installations and sculpture. Now, with Painting Air, Finch has come full circle in more ways than one: He is exhibiting in the very venue where he took on that pivotal dare, and with a major site-specific installation at the core of the show, he has created a world of painted squares and hanging

“The work really creates an environment, a space that changes and that people seem to want to spend time in.” glass—inspired by his 2011 visit to Monet’s water garden in Giverny, France—that speaks to the power of creative influence, the complexity of optical phenomena in nature and the artistic drive to give form to what is inherently intangible. “The work really creates an environment, a space that changes and that people seem to want to spend time in,” Tannenbaum says of the installation of more than 100 transparent, highly reflective glass panels suspended across a 150-linear-foot-long mural

of square shapes painted in 34 different colors. As the glass panels sway, they reflect both the colored squares and any movements in the gallery, perpetually shifting viewers’ perspectives. “It’s a physical experience and a visual experience,” says Tannenbaum. “It’s not about seeing an object, it’s about being in a particular space.” For the curatorial component of the exhibition, Finch dove into the Museum’s storage areas to pluck selections from the permanent collection that really speak to him, from works by 19th-century portrait artist John Singer Sargent to Expressionist painter Egon Schiele to contemporary multimedia artist Bruce Nauman. “I’ve been thinking about the galleries being the conscious part of the Museum and storage being the unconscious part,” Finch says. “These weird things that pop out of storage aren’t as controllable as what’s on view, but we rarely get to see them.” Having once dismissed the entire Impressionist movement, Finch now openly embraces Monet as one of his most enduring influences. “Monet’s work… was about this idea of trying to capture some thing—a place, a moment, an impression, a light condition— and repeatedly returning to it to get closer to its essence, while at the same time admitting the impossibility of doing so,” Finch says. “That impossibility is interesting to me—the impossibility of representation, the impossibility of communication, the impossibility of making art, to a certain degree.” Spring/summer 2012


why people give to risd

Jerry Saltz of New York magazine, who selected a show of Shechet’s as one of his top 10 favorites in 2010, describes her recent work as “gnarly, curly, enigmatic (and oddly sexy!)”




Arlene Shechet MFA 78 CR h as b een o n

a roll recently. Her gnarly ceramic sculpture was featured on the cover of the January 2012 issue of Art in America. This spring she was invited to work at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in Germany and had two shows in New York, with two other exhibitions to follow soon. She’s won numerous awards, including an American Academy of Arts and Letters award last year, along with grants from Anonymous Was A Woman and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. And that’s on top of the John S. Guggenheim Artist Award she earned in 2004. Now splitting her time between studios in Manhattan and upstate New York, Shechet is making sculptures using clay, but always keeps her hand in a variety of materials—including plaster, paper pulp and glass. Roberta Smith of The New York Times calls her sculpture “sexy, devout, ugly and beautiful all at the same time.” Shechet herself notes that she wants her work “to have a comic contradiction—to be funny. People have referred to the openings—which are now more holes than limbs or a spout—as a sexual language, and it is,” she says. But her pieces also express much more: “dancing limbs and classic vessels and aortas and—you know, everything. There’s a hybrid comic clumsiness, while at the same time they have airiness and elegance.” She credits her experiences at RISD with exposing her to “a lot of materials and processes, ideas and

“I contribute to the Annual Fund because I believe in the institution and I want it to grow and become even better.” images, and perhaps most importantly, conversations.” When Shechet visits campus as a critic, she always enjoys working with students and last year connected with her current studio assistant, Andrew Molleur 11 CR. She also appreciates the opportunity to continue the crits and conversations that inspired her when she was at RISD. “Critique is useful,” she says. “Critiquing, caring and contributing are the same thing.” In the midst of residencies, lectures, exhibiting and creating new work, Shechet still makes a point of giving to the RISD Annual Fund and thinking about how studio art is taught at the college level. “The way many schools are structured is not in line with how people actually practice their art,” says the sculptor, who has taught at RISD and Parsons and frequently serves as a visiting lecturer throughout the country. Her deep concern for art education—and RISD in particular—has motivated her to give to the RISD Annual Fund for more than a decade now. “One reason I contribute is that I want to continue to have a voice” in what goes on at RISD, she says.

For more on Shechet’s work, visit or her East Coast rep, Jack Shainman Gallery (

top left: image courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

Critiquing, Caring + Contributing

Invest in Creative Talent As the cost of higher education continues to rise, RISD’s leadership is committed to simultaneously limiting tuition growth and expanding the resources available for scholarship assistance. This spring a new RISD Scholars opportunity is available to those interested in investing in an aspiring artist or designer— a highly qualified student who would otherwise lack the financial means to attend RISD. The commitment calls for $12,500 annually over the course of four years, for a total of $50,000. As the first donors to the RISD Scholars program, Eli Abbe and Jessica Arner of Palo Alto, CA note that they chose to give because “some of the most creative students out there can’t even consider RISD due to the cost.” After seeing their own daughter Rebecca thrive in the Graphic Design department, graduate last spring and start her own design firm in Los Angeles, they want to help other deserving students. After all, they say, “the opportunity to help change their lives and invest in the next generation of creative thinkers and leaders is compelling.”

top left: image courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

To learn more about the RISD Scholars program, contact Louise Olson at 401 454-6323 or

“I believe in the institution and I want it to grow and become even better.” For instance, rather than offering majors based on materials, she believes that art schools should group students drawn to 3D media “in terms of their practice and intention,” based on whether they’re interested in making functional work—in clay or glass or wood or fiber—or more conceptually driven fine art in any or all of these or other materials. As a Foundation Studies faculty member in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Shechet says she came to realize just how valuable a RISD education is but also how much students and families struggle to afford it. With two children of her own—a son who recently graduated from Brown University (and took courses at RISD) and a daughter in her 20s—she also empathizes with parents who know their kids would thrive at RISD if they could get sufficient scholarship assistance. Shechet sees Foundation as RISD’s “strongest, conceptually driven program” and one that’s central to its mission. “It’s a huge melting pot with great faculty and students hungry to learn,” she says. “People really cook in that program, with future architects rubbing shoulders with illustrators and fashion designers and painters. It’s the point where students offer each other the most.” And it’s this spirit of sharing and community that inspires Shechet to continue to give.

Maharam Backs Internships

In recognition of RISD’s commitment to broadening the reach of art and design thinking, the New Yorkbased textile company Maharam is funding a new summer internship opportunity for up to 10 RISD students each year for the coming five years. The Maharam STEAM Fellowship in Applied Art and Design will provide stipends of up to $5,000 each for intern-

For more information on STEAM initiatives, go to

ships with a government agency or nonprofit organization anywhere in the US. While intentionally broad in scope, the focus is meant to be on the application of art and design thinking to public policy issues. “Maharam believes that creativity demonstrated through the arts and design will play an increasingly critical role in America’s ongoing efforts to remain a dominant global force…and private sector participation in fostering this infusion is vital,” says Michael Maharam, the company’s CEO. “This is a fantastic and rare opportunity for art and design students,” notes Greg Victory, director of RISD’s Career Center. “By designing their own internships, students are able to pursue the areas that interest them most.” Spring/summer 2012


a blast from the past

Extra Hard Times

top left: photos courtesy of the RISD Archives

Both RISD and the world have withstood hard times in the past, especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s. But even then, it wasn’t as if life or school or work came to a screeching halt — especially not at RISD. It just meant doing certain things differently, cutting back, refocusing energies. As these photos of RISD in the ’30s indicate, students were busy learning, faculty members Gordon Peers 33 PT and his wife Florence Leif 34 PT (left) were enjoying life and friends like Jeanette Kaplan 34 PT, Florence (Flossie) Leif 34 PT and Jeanette’s sister Yvette hung out whenever they could. Interestingly, the RISD catalogue from 1933-34 — at the very height of the Depression — reports a decline in enrollment of almost 13% between 1931-32 and the following academic year. Could the economy have played a role? Of course, by today’s standards, RISD’s $100 annual tuition and estimated $61 in additional materials fees (including $1 for a locker) looks like an amazing bargain. Yet, clearly, not everyone who wanted to attend could afford to do so. Plenty of students then, as now, were competing for financial aid —with scholarships and prizes of $10 or $15 well worth winning.



a blast from the past

Distinct from the Fashion Promotion arm of the Department of Costume, courses in costume construction and pattern making prepared students “for creative fashion design and also, the merchandising and advertising of clothing.�

In this teacher training class (above right), students are shown practicing their blackboard sketching skills. This sample student etching (right) on the closing page of the 1933–34 course catalogue certainly sums up the realities of the times.

spring/summer 2012


undergraduate class notes



a business at graduation

to start a business

percentage of RISD Class of 2010 that owned

Who wants to be an


percentage of RISD Class of 2010 that planned

83% of the Class of 2010

Jerry Williams 65 PT (Uddevalla, Sweden)

Jessica Hemmings 99 TX (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Suzon Schultz 67 IL

Soo Yeon Kim MFA 10 JM

(Prineville, OR)

(Seoul, Korea)

Marjorie Priceman 81 IL (Lewisburg, PA)

Anna Boothe 81 SC

Brad Buckley

(Istanbul, Turkey)

Luther Smith MFA 74 PH

MFA 82 SC (Potts Point, Australia)

Nick Mashie 07 PT

(Fort Worth, TX)

(Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Amy Devers MFA 01 FD (Bali, Indonesia)


Fargo, North Dakota #1 US city for finding a job (according to US News & World Report, 1.12)

$542,137 technical/ software development need AEfor skillAP Archcited most CR by 2009 + 2010 RISD graduates

22 64





DM 1

# of RISD alumni living in North Dakota


amount of funding awarded to RISD projects on Kickstarter in the last year

92.6% interested in freelancing





worst state to make a living (

Anyone completed an

# of alumni signed up for the RISD Etsy team

FAV percentage FD of Class GD of 2010 GL


internship? 72% of the Class of 2011

conceptual thinking



additional skill cited ILneed forJM LA development PH PT least PR








RISD statistics from annual surveys conducted by the Career Center

by 2009 + 2010 graduates






Janet (Novick) Albert 57 AP Janet (Salem, MA) is showing paintings and mixed-media work at the public library in Bedford, MA through mid July. “I worked in the rag trade for several years, then left to raise a family,” she writes. “Years later, I became a potter, did that for many years, then gave it up a few years ago and am now painting.”

David Seccombe 52 PT To mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, David showed selected photographs like these in Landscapes at Ground Zero: a 9/11 commemorative exhibit, which was on view through December 31 at Westbeth Sculpture Annex in New York City, where he lives. He chose to focus on the “quiet aftermath” of the tragedy through wide-angle views that emphasize the formal qualities of the scene — much like traditional landscape photos that depict appealing natural forms created by violent forces of nature.

1953 Eva (Amman) Irrera IL

(Washington, DC; sent in this update: “We did enjoy the latest issue

of RISD XYZ, but were dismayed that there was no one from the class of 1953. Many of us are still out there and even doing art. My husband of 58

years, Leo C. Irrera SC, was art director of the 20 schools of the city of Newburgh, NY…. When our three children were grown we moved to Washington, DC, where Leo took a job with a company that was training Algerian engineers. The city also opened opportunities for me, first doing freelance and finally becoming an illustrator and graphic designer for a branch of Northern Virginia Community College.” Since retirement Leo has returned to making sculpture and Eva is producing sculptural work as well.

1955 Johannes von Gumppenberg

singled out by the organization “for exhibiting dedication, leadership and excellence in an artistic career that has spanned more than 50 years.” Karol frequently shows in travelling exhibitions and participates in local art competitions. She teaches art, volunteers with the Cultural Center of Cape Cod and the Visual Arts Center

of Punta Gorda, FL in the winter, and donates her work to several charitable funds each year.

1960 Ellie Schimelman AE

(Brookline, MA) continues her work in Africa with Cross Cultural Collaborative and is teaching an African textile workshop this summer (July 8–21) in a fishing village near Accra, Ghana.

Roberta (Hopkins) Ayotte 58 TX Memories of Squam Lake, New Hampshire, which involves overlay and curved weaving, is among the 26 recent handwoven wall hangings featured in a three-month winter show at the El Dorado Art Gallery in Sun City, AZ, where the artist teaches at two handweaving guilds. Roberta and her husband Robert Ayotte 58 ID ran Ayotte’s Designery in Center Sandwich, NH, for 30 years and co-wrote a 16-volume home study course called Handweaving with Robert and Roberta.

IL (Jamestown, RI) published A Lexicon of Drawing: Problems and Solutions in February 2011. The book, available on and Johannes’ website (johannes-von-gump, addresses fundamental concepts of modern composition and design through images and teaching text.

1958 Frank Lukasik MD

(see page 66) Karol (Bowker) Wyckoff IL

(South Yarmouth, MA) has been recognized as a VIP of the year for excellence in fine art by Worldwide Who’s Who (the organization previously known as Cambridge Who’s Who). The artist and gallerist was

Jackie Melissas 58 CR Jackie’s recent raku vessels were included in Intersection, a fall group show at North Shore Country Day School’s Almquist Gallery. Jackie ( teaches at the school in Winnetka, IL.

Please email class notes submissions to:

spring/summer 2012


1961 Providence-based painter Gretchen Dow Simpson PT*

( showed paintings last fall in Open Studios: Pawtucket. In October she presented a piece on This I Believe, a program on the Rhode Island public radio station WRNI.

1962 50th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012

1963 Work by Deena des Rioux IL (NYC) has appeared in several exhibitions and publications recently: four images from her eco series Family Portrait were included in FACE: Evolution of the Portrait in Photography, a group show that traveled to RosPhoto Museum in St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk State Art Museum, both in Russia. Last fall she had a solo show entitled Robotic Portraiture at Art Center of Bonita Springs, FL. Two of her images were published in Exploring Color

Photography (Focal Press) and three more were selected for Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze (Women’s Caucus on Art).

1964 Elizabeth Ginsberg TX was

invited to show her work in the holiday 2011 exhibition at Viridian Gallery in New York City, where she lives. A gelatin monoprint by Patricia White IL (Cambridge, MA) was accepted into the Cambridge Art Association’s recent Northeast Prize Show. The juror was Theodore Stebbins, curator of American Art at Harvard University’s Fogg Museum. Three of Pat’s monoprints were also juried into the Members Show at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA.

1965 H. Kenneth Crasco BLA

(Brighton, MA) recently retired from his position as chief landscape architect for the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Depart-

Chip Simone 67 PH

featured speaker at the Artists Cultural Exchange (ACX) series sponsored by the Cheltenham [PA] Center for the Arts.

ment. He was presented with the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award

Rick Shnitzler AR* (Philadelphia) writes: “I’m being asked to get more involved in SCORE Philadelphia (Service

from the Boston chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Sharing My Love of Aircraft In 1980 when I was working at Andrews Air Force Base, President Carter revealed to the world that the Air Force was developing a top-secret “stealth” aircraft made from “non-radar reflective material.” The next day both the Washington Post and Star ran full-page articles describing the Stealth. I cut out the articles and made a bunch of origami-inspired paper planes with them.



In December Robert D. Lasus

Smoking Kiss, Worcester (2009/printed 2012, archival pigment, 11 x 17") is among the 40 digital color photographs on view in his current solo exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery in NYC. Chip is based in Atlanta but grew up in “a working-class neighborhood of three-decker tenements” in Worcester, MA, where this photo was taken. His NY show continues through May 26.

A couple of days later we had a formal dinner at Andrews AFB, with the Secretary of the Air Force as our keynote speaker. Each office had to give a toast and the one we wrote was a rhyming one. When I went on stage, I read my toast, which ended with: “Here’s to the health of the Stealth!” — at which point 11 lawyers (including a Brigadier General) launched the first public flight of the Stealth aircraft (or at least my paper interpretations of it). I gave the Air Force Secretary three of them — one for him, one for the Secretary of Defense and one for President Carter.

You can see more of Frank’s paper planes at his commercial site

SC (Philadelphia, PA) was the

by Frank Lukasik 58 MD After that I didn’t make many of my Stealth origami planes until I started the Florida Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda, FL, where I now live. I make them for special occasions such as my granddaughter’s graduation and later her wedding. I make them for Veterans’ Day, my squadron reunion, Thanksgiving. My greatest satisfaction now is watching a young boy holding a Stealth in his hand and moving it through the air as if he’s flying it. Making these planes adds some fun to my old age, so I thought fellow alumni might enjoy seeing my “Machine Design” skills still being put to good use.

Corps of Retired Executives). SCORE is about providing nocost mentoring and counseling for jobs and business startups. There are 350 chapters nationwide, with 18,000 volunteers. I’m being asked to bring visual thinking into a business culture where opps and apps are defined by words and numbers.” In December Jerry Williams PT (Uddevalla, Sweden) showed three pieces in a group show at Clark Gallery in Lincoln, MA.

1966 Last fall several alumni exhibited in a show at South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, MA: Todd McKie PT (Cambridge, MA), the late Richard Merkin MFA 63 PT, Karen Moss PT (Brookline, MA), Leigh Palmer PT (Tivoli, NY) and Phyllis Gay Palmer PT (Tivoli, NY).

Ilona Sochynsky 69 GD Red Moon (1991, oil, 66 x 66") is among the works Ilona (ilona is showing in her upcoming solo painting retrospective at The Ukrainian Museum in Manhattan. The exhibition opens with a reception on Saturday, May 12 and continues through October 7.

Fashionistas, a new painting by Karen Moss PT (Brookline, MA), was included in the December sale benefiting the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston scholarship.

1967 John Silverio BArch 67 John (silverioarchitectureand recently published a series of three books of architectural writings: The Book of the Hut, which discusses “primal dwelling and the essence of shelter”; Hearthspire, a design resource about wood-heated houses; and Radiance Indwelling, “the germinal thoughts tracing the author’s search for the quality of radiance and its application to architectural design.” Since the 1980s John has designed hundreds of shingled homes like this one — Redmond house — reflective of the architectural traditions of coastal Maine, where he lives.

45th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012 Ben Larrabee PH (benlarrabee. com) recently installed Moments of Grace: Family Portraits, a permanent installation of his photographs, at the Lumber Yard Restaurant in Amherst, MA. The restaurant opened last fall in a former gallery space. Ben is based in Darien, CT. Deidre Scherer AE (Williams-

ville, VT) showed work in a holiday 2011 exhibition at Catherine Dianich Gallery in Brattleboro, VT.

Nancy (Smullen) Crasco 64 AE In March Nancy’s piece Swimming Against the Tide won the Surface Design Association’s Award of Excellence in Fiber in the Present Tense, presented by the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA. Nancy (, who lives in Boston, had two pieces in the show.

Last fall Suzon Schulz IL (Prineville, OR) exhibited her oil paintings in a show called New Worlds at the Wine Shop in Bend, OR.

1969 Ed Baranosky PT (Toronto, ON) published a ghazal poem titled Lightkeeper in the October 2011 issue of Lynx and two poems in the February 2012 issue. In January he taught a series of workshops on marine art techniques at Lucsculpture School & Studios; he also showed four paintings in Conscious Shift, a group exhibition at the Origo Books Gallery (both venues are in Toronto).

ran last fall at Spencertown [NY] Academy. South Street Gallery in Hingham, MA is hosting Crustacean Series, a one-man show of paintings by Jack

Dickerson GD (Brewster, MA), during the month of May. He has begun offering Crustacean Paintings as high-quality prints; visit for details. Bruce Helander IL/MFA 72 PT

(West Palm Beach, FL) showed a series of new collages and paintings last fall in New Dimensions, the inaugural show at Corzine Fine Art in Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Sommers Busch 64 PT/AE In February, after more than a year of work, Elizabeth (elizabeth installed Outside, Inside at the New Mexico Scientific Laboratory in Albuquerque. The suspended kinetic sculpture is made of transparent UV filter sheets, acrylic paint, metal leaf, mica powders, digital images, formed steel and airline cable. Elizabeth created the public art commission in her studio in Glenburn, ME.

bottom, left: photo by Brian Vanden Brink

Blue Door, a photograph by Kate Frank Cohen AE

(Spencertown, NY; katefrank, was included in Photography in the Landscape, an exhibition celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Columbia Land Conservancy in upstate New York. The show Please email class notes submissions to:

spring/summer 2012


Bobby Grossman 76 IL In Low Fidelity: The Photographs of Bobby Grossman, 1975 – 1983, Bobby dusted off his scintillating shots of Andy Warhol, the Talking Heads (pals from RISD), David Bowie, William S. Burroughs and others for a winter show at Vertu Fine Art in his longtime hometown of Boca Raton, FL. 


Last fall Edward Dorson SC* (Long Island City, NY) had a photography show titled The Ocean Reglitterized at Pelham [NY] Art Center. As an underwater photographer and ocean activist, Edward’s ambition is to give viewers a sense of “seeing the ocean as a fragile environment supporting incredible and essential life.” Prolific design writer Frank Stasiowski Arch (Nonantum,

MA; published his 14th book in 2010. Impact 2020: Predictions for the Next 10

Years of the Design Industry argues that in the next decade, “designed practice as we know it… will be shattered.” Frank has plans to release another book next spring.


Last winter Marsha Pels PT (Brooklyn) had her fourth solo show at Schroeder Romero & Shredder in New York City. Detroit Redux featured sculpture created from 2009–11, while she was teaching at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. In conjunction with the show, an article about Martha’s work, written by Karen Wilkin, appears in the spring 2012 issue of SCULPTURE magazine. Last fall she was the only American sculptor to participate in the Lorne Biennale in Victoria, Australia.

40th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012


1971 Last winter the Artists Unite 187th Street Gallery Project presented a mini-retrospective of paintings from 1980–2011 by Michael Louis Johnson SC at the Berkshire Bank Gallery Space in NYC, where he lives.

Howard Gladstone FAV

Bill Carner 70 PH + Chris Maynard* Bill and Chris recently showed in Separated at Birth, a retrospective of their photographs at Spalding University’s Huff Gallery in Louisville, KY. The two, who have been friends since meeting at the office of the RISD student newspaper Blockprint in 1967, gave a gallery talk for students in the University of Louisville documentary photography class taught by Mary Carothers MFA 96 PH. After participating in the Louisville Photo Biennial 2011, they also met up with Bill Burke 68 PH (Dorchester, MA) and Sue Wrbican MFA 96 PH (Fairfax, VA) at the Knob Creek Gun Range in Bullitt County, KY, for the semi-annual Machine Gun Shoot.

(NYC) showed paintings last fall at an open-studio event at Chashama Artist Studios in Brooklyn. Last fall Richard Kattman BLA (Holliston, MA) showed work in Present Company, a members’ exhibition and holiday sale at Fountain Street Fine Art in Framingham, MA. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Hanover, NH (where she lives), Robin Nuse PH joined a group of artists in painting fiberglass pigs and wolves for display and auction. Her pieces—When Pigs Fly and SuperWolf—were shown all last summer on the town’s streets and were auctioned in September to support a new public playground and skating rink. When Pigs Fly garnered an impressive bid of $21,000, bringing in more than half of the $40,000 total raised.



In February the BankRI Pitman Street Gallery in Providence featured glass works donated by Toots Zynsky GL (Providence). Proceeds from sales benefited the Sandra FeinsteinGamm Theatre in Pawtucket, RI, which has presented live theatre since 1984.

1974 In January painter and illustrator Christina C. Blatt ID (Tarrytown, NY) exhibited her work at the Pleiades Gallery in NYC. As part of filmmaker Michael Shamberg’s Turtle project (, Jamie Dalglish FAV (NYC; morpho had a show in Paris at the Arnaud Lefebvre Gallery in last fall. Tom Emerson BArch

(see page 4)

Photographic work by Charles Corda BArch (Coconut Grove, FL) received 25 nominations in the 2011 International Color Awards; Yellow Daisies earned an honorable mention. His photograph Cemetery, Lark Harbour, Newfoundland was also shortlisted for the Aesthetica magazine Creative Works Art Award, and was

Jo Lynn Crabs Alcorn 76 PR Jo Lynn (West Hartford, CT) recently created a series of six paper sculptures for an international ad campaign celebrating the bicentenary of Perrier Jouët, the French champagne house. For inspiration she turned to the work of Gallé, the Art Nouveau master who designed the brand’s signature floral bottle.

bottom, right: photo by Kanji Ishii


Public Art Dialogue Journal (Routledge/Talor & Francis) selected work by Barbara Bernstein PR (Amherst, VA), a faculty member in RISD’s Sculpture department, for the cover and a feature story in its fall 2011 edition.

Andrew Stevovich 70 PT Andrew’s painting Couple with a Drawing of a Skull (2011, oil on canvas, 6 x 7.5") was featured in Nature’s Helmet: The Human Skull, a winter 2012 group exhibition at the Extension Gallery in Allston, MA. Andrew lives in Northborough, MA.


Painter, designer, cartoonist and muralist Peter Tigler PT (Santa Monica, CA) recently designed a mural for the Concannon Fitness Center at Providence [RI] College. In February he led a collaborative painting process that enabled PC students, artists, athletes, alumni and others to create the mural together. The piece combines an ancient Greek vase painting with a contemporary photograph of an

Wendy Seller 75 AE Pensive Girl is among the digital collages included in Letting Loose, a winter solo show at Milton Academy’s Nesto Gallery in Milton, MA. A long-time assistant professor of Foundation Studies at RISD, Wendy developed a new way of manipulating her neosurrealist paintings during her sabbatical leave last year. Now that she has discovered the fun of working in Illustrator as well as with oil on canvas, she intends to continue creating new and exciting hybrid works.

published in the 2011 Creative Works Annual. Charles recently launched a new website to showcase his work: photos. Builder Magazine selected Charles Cunniffe Architects,

the Aspen, CO firm established by Charles Cunniffe BArch, for a Grand Award in the renovated/restored single family house category. The project—the Fullerton Residence remodel in Aspen—was featured in the August 2011 issue of the magazine. In early March Miriam Danar AE exhibited her digital work

award-winning moment for Providence College’s women’s track team. Director Gus Van Sant FAV (Milk, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, My Own Private Idaho) is one of the groundbreaking filmmakers featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey, a 15-hour documentary by Mark Cousins that was on view at MoMA in February.

Laurie Harden 76 IL Laurie’s oil painting Ready to Flee won third place in the Tewksbury Historical Society Art Show held last fall in Oldwick, NJ. Last fall she also exhibited 45 paintings in Around the World, a solo show at the Morristown [NJ] Memorial Hospital, and had work in group exhibitions at the National Arts Club and the Salmagundi Club, both in NYC, as well as in the Mountain Art Show in Bernardsville, NJ. Laurie also exhibited along with photographer Pam Hasegawa in Faces of the World, a winter show at Centerpoint Gallery in NYC. She’s based in Boonton, NJ.

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston presented a tribute to the late Karen Aqua IL last September. Karen was a talented filmmaker and animator who passed away in May 2011. Erica Friedman SC was

recently appointed director of product development for Trade Associates Group in Chicago, where she lives. Carolyn Gowdy IL (London)

participated in several exhibitions last winter: the National Open Art Competition Chichester [England]; the Christmas Show at 286 Gallery in London; Glitterbug at Viktor Wynd Fine Art, London; and the London Art Fair in Islington, where pieces from her Theatre of Women series (1978 – 80) were on view. She also created illustrations for The Spectator magazine’s Christmas short story, as she has done for the past 20 years or so.

in A Great Fit, a group show at the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art in NYC, where she lives.

Paula Martiesian 76 PT Black Rocks, Prudence Island is among the recent paintings Paula showed in ReCollections/ ReConnections I, a group show that just closed at the Newport [RI] Art Museum.

Please email class notes submissions to:

spring/summer 2012


Debra Fleisher Livingston 79 PR left: In December Debra (Scotch Plains, NJ) participated in a medical mission to Kabala, Sierra Leone as a volunteer with the International Surgical Health Initiative (ISHI). She worked with a group of local teenage girls to paint a mural on the walls of the government hospital’s maternity complex. ISHI was co-founded by Vishnu Hoff 00 ID (see feature article in RISD XYZ, Spring 2010).

Alex O’Neal 79 IL

35th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012

Last September Karen Rand Anderson CR (Providence; participated in open studios at the converted mill complex in Pawtucket, RI where she creates mixed-media paintings, sculptures and assemblages. In November Ann Rozhon SC (North Scituate, RI) invited visitors to view her New England landscape paintings and figurative sculptures during an open studios day throughout northwestern Rhode Island. Geoffrey Warner PH*

(Stonington, ME; geoffrey showed work from his Owl furniture line at last fall’s Providence Fine Furnishings and Fine Craft Show at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

Ricker Winsor PH/MFA 78

writes from his temporary home in Trinidad: “I am getting a lot of painting done here and writing at least 500 words a day for a book I am working on. And I am teaching teenagers all day long on top of that. They are more distracted than ever but fun too. We look forward to being in Indonesia this summer.”

From January to March Valerie Hird PT (Burlington,

Robert Richardson 79 FAV In February the cinematographer won his third Academy Award —  for his work on the Martin Scorsese film Hugo, shot in 3D and based on the Caldecott Medal-winning book by Brian Selznick 88 IL. The film kept pace with The Artist for most nominations and wins at this year’s ceremony. Robert is now working with director Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained, due out in December.

VT) exhibited The Fifth Day, a series of paintings exploring sea, sky, earth and wind, at Nohra Haime Gallery in New York City.

Newport Art Museum’s 2012 Members’ Juried Exhibition for her photograph Dressing It. The show continues through mid May.

Bonnie Perlman Jaffe FAV

Stuart Karten ID (Marina

(Barrington, RI) received the Best in Show Award at the

Del Ray, CA) and his company Karten Design won the 2011

In December Kim Barry SC (Mattapoisett, MA) presented

As the first artist-in-residence with the US Forest Service, Kathy spent a week last summer working in the Chugach National Forest and Prince William Sound in Alaska. “I assisted in ranger duties, inspecting campsites, eradicating invasive weeds, measuring cruise-ship emissions, investigating reports of a bear-baiting station and removing debris surrounding an old gold mine,” the Rhode Island-based artist writes. “The 10:30pm sunset left plenty of time for watercolor painting and collecting reference photographs, from which I will develop a series of paintings based on my experience.”


Karen Hackenberg PT

(Port Townsend, WA) was one of seven artists selected to exhibit in Beneath the Service: Rediscovering a World Worth Conserving, a show sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and held last winter at its gallery in Washington, DC. The exhibition “explored the use of art as a medium to advocate for the preservation of one of earth’s most beautifully complex compositions: its oceans”; Karen showed nine paintings from her Watershed series, which focuses on flotsam and jetsam trashed on Northwest beaches, but adds an ironic twist. More works from the series were on view in February and March in Strand, Karen’s solo show at Shoreline [WA] Community College.


Kathy Hodge 79 PT*


work in Bring Your Own Beamer New Bedford [MA], a two-person show at Star Store Gallery 244.

top, left: photo by Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.


left: Delta Citizen (2011, oil on pastel, 24 x 18”) is among the paintings on view in Delta Donuts, Migraine Weather, Alex’s recent solo show at Linda Warren Projects in Chicago. The Brooklyn-based artist earned a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts and had work included in the group shows Head Case at Lesley Heller Workspace in NYC and 30: A Brooklyn Salon at BRIC, Brooklyn’s oldest nonprofit arts organization, where he was among the artists honored at an annual gala. Alex’s work is also included in Day Job, curated by Nina Katchadourian, a traveling exhibition that began at the Drawing Center in NYC and this year will be shown at Albright College in Reading, PA and Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR.

Design & Business Catalyst Award for the firm’s work on Starkey Laboratories’ Zon Hearing Aid. The award recognizes excellence in market and financial performance as well as strategic and social impact. A detailed case study of the design process, The Design of Sound through Sound Design, can be found at the Industrial Designers Society of America’s online store. Nancy Reyner IL (nancyreyner. com) exhibited work last fall at Pippin Contemporary gallery in Santa Fe, NM, where she lives.

1979 Jean Blackburn PT, a profes-

sor of Illustration at RISD, showed recent paintings focused on the home in TIMESTAMP, a March exhibition at the Chazan Gallery (at Wheeler School) in Providence. The exhibition featured the work of four RISD faculty members.

Valerie Gnadt 78 TX Valerie’s rug woven out of men’s suits and her table piece woven from white dress shirts were exhibited recently at Modern Appealing Clothing in San Francisco. She also has a piece in SEAT, a public exhibition on view through May 31 at Fort Mason Center on the coast of San Francisco. It’s “a truck tire covered with handwoven fabrics, tarps and marine cording, creating a seat that is responsive to the site and extraordinary weather conditions of Fort Mason,” she notes. Valerie lives in nearby Mill Valley, CA.

Carl Seville ID (Decatur, GA) coauthored Green Building, Principles and Practices in Residential Construction, the first college text focusing on residential green building. The textbook (see or highlights the planning, processes and methodologies needed to meet rigorous environmental building standards.

On March 29 Timothy White PH (NYC, was awarded the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival’s inaugural Spotlight Award, created to highlight key figures behind the scenes in filmmaking. The 1920s and

’30s-themed event took place at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA, where actor Harrison Ford presented the award. Guests were treated to an exhibition of Timothy’s work and a screening of Citizen Kane at the Hearst Castle Theatre. Thirty years after her death, work by the late Francesca Woodman PH (1958 – 81) is being featured in several exhibitions: In Wonderland: Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists continues through May 6 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, while the comprehensive solo show Francesca Woodman ran

Marjorie Priceman 81 IL After getting a great response to her colorful gouache and ink illustrations for Paris in the Spring with Picasso (2010, Schwartz & Wade) by Joan Yolleck, Marjorie recently created equally fluid, high-energy illustrations for a new picture book: Jazz Age Josephine (2012, Atheneum), Jonah Winter’s great kids’ intro to 1920s dance sensation Josephine Baker. Marjorie lives in Lewisburg, PA.

at SF MOMA in late fall and winter, and is now at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC through June 13.

1980 Arlen Schumer GD (Westport,

CT) illustrated the second issue of Captain Israel, a comic book series published by StandWithUs. The organization and publication strive to educate people about Israel and anti-Semitism; in issue #2, the hero battles the “anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” which takes the form of a venomous snake.

Volatile American Voter: Inconsistent Voting Behavior in the United States, 1948 – 2004, Arthur Beckman PT (Brooklyn) earned his PhD in political science from the City University of New York. He works as a senior copywriter at DDB Remedy and teaches at CUNY College of Technology and NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

1981 Last fall, after completing a dissertation entitled The

Rhonda (Schneider) Wall 78 PT right: Surviving Lung Cancer, Dodo Birds Are Extinct (2010, detail, 24 x 24") is among the pieces on view in the month-long solo show Rhonda Wall: Delirium, Danger and Determination at Accola Griefen Gallery in NYC. Rhonda is based in Easton, PA.

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spring/summer 2012


Anna Boothe 81 SC This summer (July 1–13) Anna will teach a workshop on component glass casting at the Glass Furnace, a glass art teaching facility outside of Istanbul, Turkey. Anna lives in Zieglersville, PA.

of the Wassaic Project in Wassaic, NY. (See also page 16.) Jane Talcott TX (Brooklyn)

showed work in Holiday Presence, a group show held at the end of 2011 at Viridian Artists in New York City.


1981 continued Last fall Luke Buffenmyer PH (Derry, NH) exhibited Agglomeration, a series of paintings and drawings created in collaboration with Megan McNaught, at the gallery space in the Wadleigh Library at Chester [NH] College of New England. Denver-based artist Trine Bumiller PR (trinebumiller. com) followed up Estuarine,

Steven Kenny 84 IL Steven ( contributed work such as The Reins (2011, oil on linen, 24 x 34") to two group shows in Europe last fall: one at Galleria Davico in Turin, Italy and another that began at Beskidzka Galeria Sztuki in Poland and traveled to Italy. He was profiled recently on Hi-Fructose magazine’s blog and wrapped up 2011 with a move from New York to St. Petersburg, FL, where Salt Creek Artworks hosted his solo show, Layers of Intention, in March.

a February exhibition of her new paintings at the Denver Botanic Gardens, with a solo show called In Medias Res: New Paintings, which ran in March and April at the Zg Gallery in Chicago. This summer she will also be a resident artist at Denali National Park in Denali, AK. Fred Lisaius IL (Bellevue, WA)

had three solo painting exhibitions last fall and winter: Natural Order at Schomburg Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, Natural Selection at Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle and Chaos and Order at Circa Gallery in Minneapolis.

Sculpture department, interviews the following alumni: Noah Fischer 99 SC, a sculptor based in New York City; Andy Ness MFA 06 SC, currently a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA; Howie Sneider 02 SC, co-founder of the Steel Yard in Providence; Sarah Young 10 SC, in her second year of the Sculpture MFA program at Hunter College, NY; Lauren Was MFA 04 SC , half of the sculpture/installation team Ghost of a Dream; and Bowie Zunino MFA 09 SC , co-founder

Two monotypes by Susan (Harvey) Dubrunfaut IL were

selected for the Philadelphia Sketch Club’s Domenic Distefano Memorial 2012 Juried Works on Paper Exhibition, held in January. Her works have also twice been accepted into annual juried shows at the Abington Art Center in Jenkintown, PA, where she is a teacher. Susan sells her monotype and collagraph prints at Orchard Artworks in Bryn Athyn, PA, and at Fox Chase Cancer Center’s new gift boutique in Philadelphia.

Judith Schaechter 83 GL Judith has been on a roll this year, with stained-glass work shown in a wide variety of venues. Last fall she participated in a group show at Florida State University’s Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee and this year the Philadelphia-based artist created 17 site-specific works for Pennsylvania’s Eastern State Penitentiary, responding to the prison’s narrow skylights and arched windows. Her work is currently on view in Glasstress New York at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC (through June 10) and in other glass shows at the Toledo [OH] Museum of Art (June 13 – September 9), Oklahoma City [OK] Museum of Art (June 14 – September 9) and River House Arts in Perrysburg, OH (June 7 – July 20). This summer Judith will give the keynote address at the International Symposium in Architectural Glass at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland England, UK and will offer a New Frontiers in Stained Glass workshop at the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

1982 30th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012 Anne Shackman GD

(see page 14) In a new series of videos available at 35570504, Edythe Wright PH, a faculty member in RISD’s

Last November Rana Rochat PR (Atlanta) had a solo show at Arden Gallery in Boston. As part of her fellowship project with A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, Annette Rusin BArch (NYC) co-curated Privacy Please!, a show of “14 women artists who deal with beauty and grooming.” The exhibition was on view at the gallery in November 2011. In June 2011 Tom Sieniewicz BArch (Cambridge, MA) won the George Nick Painting Prize at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where he has been a continuing education student in the Painting Department since 2007. By day he’s a partner at Chan Krieger NBBJ, an international architecture and design firm. “I feel like I live in a most wonderful place, roaming between art and design every day,” Tom says. “I count that as one of my most precious legacies from RISD.”

1984 Last fall Peter Diepenbrock BID ( completed a sculpture commission for the Lakewood [OH] Public Library. Transversion (textured bronze and stainless steel, 15 x 15 x 8') is installed on the library’s lawn, framed against its façade. Peter, who lives in Jamestown, RI, was selected from 202 artists who applied for the project. His other recent public commissions include Torsion III for the University of Rhode Island and The Ark for Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA. Work by Colleen Kiely PT (Roslindale, MA) was included in Residue: The 22nd Drawing Show, a group exhibition on view last fall at the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts. In January Fotini Vurgaropulou SC (Brooklyn; fotini showed work from her Bodice sculpture series at Branded Saloon in Brooklyn, NY. “Devices of beauty, protection, desire and pain,” she writes, “the Bodice series—anthropomorphic chain mail—is composed of large fish hooks, swivels, wire and resin castings.”



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All About Eve

In today’s tight job market, there’s a lot to be said for the how-to seminars that career centers like RISD’s offer: how to avoid bad freelance clients, how to protect your intellectual property, how to beef up your portfolio. But all the career guides in the world can’t tell you how to become a paint doctor — the term the New York Times uses to describe Eve Ashcraft 85 PT. “I think a lot of us who went to RISD have had similar kinds of trajectories, doing things that are in creative fields but not necessarily what you would think of as a traditional art or design job,” Ashcraft says. “It’s not like when I was starting out I thought, ‘Gee whiz, when I’m 49 I’m going to be a color consultant.’ ” Part shrink, part designer and part color crisis first-responder, Ashcraft has been sought out as a color authority by everyone from Richard Avedon (for the palettes of the typefaces on his book covers) to Martha Stewart (for her hugely successful Araucana line of paints) to the client who requested the right shade of white for the perfect veneered smile. But the vast majority of her work has taken place in New Yorkers’ homes, where

For more about Eve, go to

Eve Ashcraft 85 PT

Ashcraft-the-color-Sherpa guides anxious clients in arriving at the right paint color —  or correcting a wrong one. “The average person would say they don’t know anything about color,” she says. “In reality they know a lot more than they think, but they relate to it in a subconscious way — you like your coffee this color brown or when you’re shopping you’re drawn to certain colors.” Ashcraft’s keen eye for color is now reaching a much broader audience due to the recent release of both her book The Right Color and a new line of paint featured in the book, Eve Ashcraft Color: The Essential Palette, produced by Fine Paints of Europe. Both provide the same kind of paint-whisperer wisdom she uses to help her private clients. And that wisdom, she says, is based on an essential skill she developed in childhood and harnessed at RISD.

of the corner store. And from her mother’s constant home decorating projects to her father’s auto body repair shop, she was surrounded by the look, feel and finish of paint. “I’m a voracious looker,” Ashcraft admits. “One of the most brilliant things about RISD is it insisted that you look at things in different ways. For me the process of looking and choosing and automatically editing is kind of like breathing. It’s almost impossible not to do.” Turning an obsession into a living isn’t always easy, however, especially after landing in New York with big dreams. As an aspiring painter, Ashcraft had been encouraged by early attention from the likes of gallery owner Mary Boone 73 SC and grants that covered the cost of her own studio space. But after struggling as a painter, she says, her midwestern practicality kicked in. “When I was at RISD, it was the era of Julian Schnabel, where artists were rock stars,” Ashcraft says. “I really needed to find work that would guarantee me some kind of livelihood, that would sustain me.” Stringing together one not-so-glamorous freelance gig after another (“like using a staple gun all day long until you want to die”) she slowly developed a roster of clients who came to rely on her as “the girl with the bucket,” Ashcraft says — the girl who would paint anything. Before long, she was working full-time for a decorative painting company, managing crews of 10-15 people. “I’d spend a lot of time making buckets and buckets of paint. But I was also meeting people in various worlds, including RISD alums — photographers, magazine editors, architects, interior designers. All of that paved the way for what I’m doing now, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.” — Francie Latour

Automatic editor Ashcraft can still recall playing something called “the picking game” when she was a kid, continually looking at and picking the best of whatever happened to be in front of her —  in the pages of a Sears catalogue or the aisles spring/summer 2012


Judy Lanfredi 86 IL Judy’s collage inspired by the e.e. cummings poem i carry your heart with me was featured in the September/October 2011 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. She teaches art at Creative Kids in Westfield, NJ and lives nearby in Scotch Plains.

the district; one reflects the area as it was in the 1850s—an agricultural green space full of citrus groves and vineyards— and the other interprets the iconic red-yellow-blue triangle sign used by the city to designate artist-in-residence industrial buildings.

1985 Justin Kimball PH

(see pages 32-39) A feature article on Los Angelesbased architect Michael Maltzan BArch ran in the second annual Game Changers issue of Metropolis magazine (January 2012), which presented the work of 12 groundbreaking

designers. Game designer and educator Katie Salen MFA GD was also among the dozen people highlighted in the issue. In February Valerie Mitchell JM (Los Angeles, CA) unveiled her public art project for the Los Angeles Arts District. Valerie created two medallions that adorn 40 street poles in

Poulin + Morris, the New York City design firm where Douglas Morris GD is a principal, recently oversaw an environmental graphics, wayfinding and donor recognition program for the new facility of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The firm also designed a 2011 exhibition for AIGA displaying

the award-winning works from its 365 design competition.

12 challenging and rewarding years of business” for her Newport gallery Didi Suydam Lisa (Di Biasio) O’Connell GD Contemporary, she closed the ( doors on December 31, 2011. recently exhibited still life “Given the exciting adventures paintings of food in a solo show we [Didi and Peter Diepenat Flora Restaurant in Arlington, brock BID 84; see page 72] have MA. She lives nearby in ahead,” she says, “we decided Stoneham, MA. it was time!” This September Didi Suydam JM (Jamestown, RI; will have a solo show of digital imagery at the Newport [RI] Art Museum. She recently installed several large-scale digital pieces at the AmeriHealth Corporation in New Jersey, and has begun placing her work through art consultants as well as private collectors. And finally, “after

final bankruptcy sale proclaimed: “Everything must go, entire store on sale, nothing held back” — but the piles of merchandise were going nowhere. For the past two years I have been photographing vacant storefronts and office buildings around America, and earlier this spring the resulting exhibition Everything Must Go was shown at Kayafas Gallery in Boston. After I earned my undergraduate degree from RISD, I worked as a freelance photojournalist in Korea for 25 years, mainly covering business stories about the Asian economy for publications such as Fortune, Businessweek and TIME. I would often travel to other Asian



Talin (Watertown, MA; showed detailed paintings of braids in Accomplished, an exhibition at the new George Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA. The show of seven women artists was on view in February.

countries — especially China — to document once-poor nations becoming global leaders. So in 2007, when I came back to the US to pursue my MFA at RISD, I was personally saddened to see and hear the neverending stories about America in decline. This was in sharp contrast to the miracle growth going on in Korea and China, where factories are springing up in former rice fields and office buildings are being recklessly erected, like a child building with Legos. To process what I was seeing, I began to honestly and poetically document it. These images stand in sharp contrast to my childhood impressions of the US the first

To see more of Ki Ho’s work, go to and

Last October Vincent Castaldi IL (Cranston, RI) presented A Starry Starry Night with Vincent, an exhibition and reception at Villa 120 in Middletown, RI.

Talin Megherian 85 PT

Mourning America in Decline

The posters at Bernie’s


by Ki Ho Park 86 PH / MFA 10

time I came here, in 1973: the bright spire of the Washington Monument, the huge department stores and supermarkets brimming with goods. The images conveyed a land of almost unreal prosperity. These idyllic images of a nation at the height of its power are etched like tattoos on my psyche. The land of opportunity my mother worked so hard to bring her family to is no longer the powerful nation it once was. I sometimes get nostalgic for those days, but also realize that this crisis is here to stay for some time. Now that I’m living in the US long-term, I, like everyone else, will have to adjust to this new reality.

Stephen Burt 87 IL

Trine Giaever 87 IL Trine ( giaever) recently joined forces with other local artists to raise money for Nyack, NY’s Rockland Center for the Arts (RoCA) by creating artwork for Postcards from the Edge. In January she had a solo show of landscape paintings at the Tappan [NY] Library’s reading room, and in February and March she was part of The 38th Annual Members’ Group Show at the Pleiades Gallery in NYC. She also had a painting in the 6" Squared Exhibition and Sale at the Randy Higbee Gallery in Costa Mesa, CA. Trina is based in Piermont, NY.

In January John DeMelim Arch (Johnston, RI) exhibited in Structural Remains, a threeperson show at the Moses Brown School’s Krause Gallery in Providence, RI.

Stephen, an associate professor and chair of Creative and Fine Arts at the University of New England in Biddeford, ME, is one of two artists invited to represent Maine in The State of Printmaking in America 2011, with pieces such as Bushwhacking (2011, etching, 15.25 x 11.25"). Organized by the Visual Arts Department of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the traveling exhibition presents two portfolios that will be incorporated into the museum collections of the University of Colorado and Nicholls State University, among others, after it completes its tour this year.

Patrick Hamilton GD (NYC)

recently led a virtual tour of the Brooklyn home of designer Marcia Patmos 91 AP; the photos, text and interviews are online at apartment In December Michael Oatman PT (Troy, NY) showed new collages in the inaugural exhibition at Mayson Gallery on NYC’s Lower East Side. Jeff Quinn PT (Brooklyn) was also among the six artists in the show.

1987 25th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012 Brian Bainnson BLA (Portland,

OR) is currently working on two therapy gardens for wounded warriors that will be built by the USO at Warrior and Family Centers at Bethesda’s

John Ruggieri* (Boston, MA)

new Walter Reed Hospital in Fort Belvoir, VA. The gardens are designed to provide a place for soldiers to get both physical and cognitive therapies in a natural setting. Nicole Eisenman 87 PT

(see page 40-45) Work by Mark Goodkin PT (Providence) was included in Small Works, a group exhibition on view last fall at Providence’s Z Gallery. Still Waters, a solo show of work by Farsad Labbauf BID (, was on view last fall at Amstel Gallery in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In February he gave a talk on his work and the development of his series Linear Portraits at Princeton University, describing the formation of his method, in part, as follows:

“To depict something that was, is or will be carries the heavy and imposing predicament of time. And so in describing the world, I have found it necessary to create images that exist halfway between completion and dissolution.” Farsad lives in Jersey City, NJ.

1988 Earlier this spring Paul Meleschnig AP showed his photographs in a solo show called Spar: Photographs from Cuba by Paul Meleschnig at the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City, where he lives.

recently exhibited his photographs at designer Phillip Jude Miller’s showroom America Dural in Cambridge, MA. He also installed an exhibition of abstract landscape photographs at the new Boston location of the firm Addo Novo.

Amy Goodwin 87 ID See Through Flowers (2012, mixed media on canvas, 36 x 36") is among the new paintings on view in What She Saw, a solo show that continues through May 13 at Albright Art gallery in Concord, MA. Amy says she often incorporates flowers in her work as a metaphor for the “fragile membranes” of life. After earning her ID degree at RISD, she studied painting at Yale and now teaches Foundation Studies at RISD.

Robert Daoust 85 FAV On July 27, 2011, Robert and Hinrich von Haaren, his partner of 20 years, were joined in civil union at Marylebone Old Town Hall in London. Hinrich is the author of Die Überlebten and the soon-to-be-published Brandhagen (both Luftschacht Publishers, Vienna). Robert is a trainer/coach and is about to begin the Access to Drama Diploma course at Citylit, London.

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spring/summer 2012


Julie Morringello

89 ID/MFA 97 FD Julie’s Uni Light won Best of Show in the Accessories category at the 2011 Providence [RI] Fine Furnishings Show. It’s one of the pieces produced by her new company modern maine ( which is “dedicated to the design and manufacture of custom contemporary lighting for residential and commercial applications.” Julie is based in Stonington, ME.

Liz Deschenes 88 PH Liz is among the 51 artists worldwide whose work is included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, which continues through May 27. Her abstract photographs are also on view in two group shows wrapping up in April — in Germany and NYC — and in Parcours, which opened on April 21 at the Art Institute of Chicago, where it continues through September 9.

1988 continued In conjunction with the fall 2011 exhibition California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way” at LACMA, Adam Silverman BArch (Los Angeles) created a limitededition ceramic work for the museum and presented a public talk. He has also begun a long-term project to create work using clay, wood and stone taken from the construction site surrounding Louis Kahn’s landmark Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX, where a new Renzo Piano building is going up. You can follow Adam’s project at

1989 Last fall Karen Gelardi PT (South Portland, ME; karen conducted a family art-making workshop at the Portland [ME] Museum of Art. Laura Grahman SC (Rome, Italy) recently designed her third advent calendar for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Called My Art Museum Sticker Advent Calendar, it’s available through the Met’s online store.



Commentary and Dissent, a solo show of photographic work by Jill Greenberg PH (, was on view last winter at Katherine Cone Gallery in Los Angeles. Jill lives nearby in Beverly Hills.

in Skoto Gallery at 20, the 20th-anniversary exhibition of the Manhattan gallery. Last October Franklin Einspruch IL (Roslindale, MA; “settled once and for all” the question “What Is Excellence in the Arts?” in High and Low, a talk he gave at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA. Also last fall, his review of Anne Neely: Mopang at Lohin Geduld gallery appeared on

Last fall Liz Jaff PT (NYC) showed new cut and folded paper work and ink drawings on paper at RHV Fine Art in Brooklyn.

For his fall 2011 show Saccade at Marfa [TX] Country Clinic, Patrick Keesey PT created a group of drawings that compare the results of mechanical saccadic eye-tracking tests with his own intuitive tracking. Marfa Public Radio interviewed him about his work; the conversation was broadcast on October 4.

Kate Register PT showed

John M. Rufo BArch

34 paintings last fall in the light between two days, a solo exhibition at SemiPrecious Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, where she lives. She thinks of each of the acrylic paintings as a “mindscape: a mental or psychological scene or area of the imagination.”

1990 Lisa Albin BArch (Brooklyn),

the designer behind Iglooplay children’s furniture (iglooplay. com), worked with Offi to produce the Mod Lounger—a molded plastic reinterpretation of her bent-ply Mod Rocker chair. The companies presented the sleek seat last fall at Boutique Design New York. Last winter work by SoHyun Bae PT (NYC) was on view

( has launched his own architecture planning and urban design practice, FORM + PLACE, in Newtonville, MA with longtime colleague Michael Wang. He describes the new venture as grounded firmly in the pair’s “mutual interest in urban development, and the creation of vital commercial and residential districts.” The practice is focused on “planning transit-oriented developments and mixed-use master plans as well as designing projects across nearly all building types.”

1991 Carolina Arentsen IL

presented New Paintings last winter at AS220 in Providence, where she lives.

In January New Yorker Katherine Daniels PT

unveiled Lincoln Road Serape, a site-specific installation that transforms a pedestrian bridge in a Brooklyn neighborhood. For the 70-foot-long piece, she wove plastic ribbons into a chain-link fence in a design inspired by Navajo blanket motifs. The undertaking was supported by the DOT’s Urban Art Program and will remain in place through October 31. Writer Chris Eboch PH ( published

Vivi Harder 89 PT Last fall Vivi showed paintings such as this one, Carrying Me Through (2008, acrylic and gel medium on canvas, 14 x 14"), in Too Still to Move, a solo exhibition at the Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar, British Columbia. Her work is also on view from June 16–September 16 in a new show at Gallery 2 in Grand Forks, BC. Vivi lives in Nelson, BC.

two books in 2011: Rattled, her first book for adults, under the pen name Kris Bock, and Advanced Plotting, a manual designed for the intermediate and advanced writer. Both are available on Chris is based in Socorro, NM. Last summer Melissa McGill SC (Beacon, NY) exhibited her

recent bronze work, The Belles, at CRG Gallery in NYC. Transitory Space: Beijing, China & Bronx, New York— a solo show of color photography work by Leah Oates IL (—is on view through the end of May at Susan Eley Fine Art in NYC, where she lives. Her work was also featured in Broken Homes, a group show held last winter at Momenta Art in Brooklyn. For the return of the Stop & Go Rides Again exhibition to San Francisco last fall, Mel Prest PT joined a handful of artists in creating new site-specific, large-scale and performance-

Cara (Shaw) Erinle 92 GD Cara, a designer in Burtonsville, MD who runs a business called Salient Solutions (, recently wrote and illustrated So I Am Called, a novel targeted towards teenage boys; she published the book through her new publishing company, Inscription Press (inscription, where you can read a sample chapter.

based works at Z Space. The San Francisco-based artist co-taught an animation workshop in conjunction with the exhibition and screening of Stop & Go, an international animation collection. Mel also showed work in A Romance of Many Dimensions, a group show on view last November at Brooklyn Artists Gym; over the winter she participated in Island of order in a sea of chaos, a group show at de Vishal gallery in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Shine Design, the titles studio where Michael Riley GD (Los Angeles) is creative director, created the main title reveals for the FOX TV program Terranova and for The Secret Circle, a new show on The CW Television Network.

Ed Shems IL ( wrote in with the good news that he and his wife Bree Bernat Shems and their son Leo welcomed Cora Bailey Shems to the family on September 19, 2011. “A day after my daughter was born,” he adds, “my business partner Justin Perricone and I launched Creative Relay (, a source of information, webinars and events for creative professionals. We worked together previously as president and vice-president of the Boston Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild and are continuing our goal of sharing knowledge and experiences among creatives in a quickly changing landscape. Our motto is ‘Resources for the Evolving Creative Professional.’”

New York-based artist Kiwon Wang JM (

Kirsten Fischler 88 IL Last fall and winter, Kirsten showed works from her Knotty Thoughts series in Interior Design: the Brain and Spine in Art. The group show was on view at the ArtTimesTwo Gallery housed in the Princeton Brain and Spine Care Institute in Princeton Township, NJ. Kirsten lives in West Chester, PA.

served as curator for Open Mind, an international contemporary jewelry exhibition held last fall at Sungkok Art Musem in Seoul, Korea. The show featured work in new nonprecious materials by 63 artists from 18 countries.

1992 20th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012 Richard Barlow PT (rbarlow.

net) was one of five artists awarded a 2011 – 12 Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists. Last fall he exhibited his works in the show A Crow’s Nest, a group show at Macalester College’s art gallery in St. Paul, MN. The Minneapolis-based artist showed pieces ranging from silver-leaf drawings based on landscape imagery from LP Please email class notes submissions to:

covers to watercolor postcards based on a single 19th-century photograph. Arnor Bieltvedt PT (Pasadena,

CA) had three paintings in Visions of Los Angeles, a fall 2011 show at UCLA’s Kerckhoff Art Gallery. In the last year, Shepard Fairey IL has seen the inside of a Boston courtroom, the campsites of Occupy LA and the cover of TIME (he designed the magazine’s 2011 Person of the Year cover). Now the designer of the Obey street art campaign and the iconic 2008 Obama poster has collaborated with Incase Design to create a capsule collection of sleeves and covers for Apple devices that combine global symbols of

Bo Joseph 92 PT Where Fear and Fantasy Converge (2011, oil pastel, tempera and acrylic on patchworked paper, 79 3/8 x 56 1/2") is among the seven large works on paper on view in Fragments of a Worldview, a show that ran earlier this spring at Sears-Peyton Gallery in NYC, where he lives. Bo is known for referencing a wide range of culturally and historically resonant artifacts in his work and is represented by both Sears-Peyton and McClain Gallery in Houston.

peace with elements of his own street art. (See also page 88.) Last summer Veronica Frenning CR showed a clay, rubber and metal installation piece in Bronx Calling: The First AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, a group show for artists selected to participate in the Artist in the Marketplace program. The 13-week seminar series offers practicing artists opportunities

to meet with established artists, collectors, critics, curators, dealers and lawyers, and learn about exhibition opportunities, galleries, grant writing, copyright law and tax issues. The Brooklyn-based artist also received a Studio Immersion Project fellowship through Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and spent the month of November as a resident artist at Bamboo Curtain Studio in Taipei. spring/summer 2012


KEY current majors AP

Apparel Design

Arch Architecture CR Ceramics DM

Digital + Media

FAV Film/Animation/ Video FD

Furniture Design


Graphic Design

GL Glass IA

Interior Architecture


Industrial Design

IL Illustration JM Jewelry + Metalsmithing PH Photography PT Painting PR Printmaking

Joe McKendry 94 IL Joe’s forthcoming book One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World (Godine, May 2012) offers a lush visual history of the iconic skyscrapers, signage, theaters and hotels that have made this Manhattan landmark an international destination for well over a century. In addition to creating books, Joe keeps busy freelancing for a wide range of clients and teaching Illustration at RISD.

SC Sculpture TX Textiles former majors AD

Advertising Design

AE Art + Design Education LA Landscape Architecture MD Machine Design TC

Textile Chemistry


Textile Engineering

5th-year degree BArch Architecture former 5th-year degrees BGD

Graphic Design


Industrial Design

BIA Interior Architecture BLA Landscape Architecture master’s degrees MA

Art Education (formerly MAE)

MArch Architecture MAT Teaching MFA

Fine Arts


Industrial Design


Interior Architecture

MLA Landscape Architecture OTHER CEC Continuing Education Certificate FS enrolled for Foundation Studies only * attended RISD, but no degree awarded

1992 continued Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration, a new book by Connecticut-based contemporary quilt artist Denyse Schmidt GD (, was released in March. Denyse has also produced a fabric collection for FreeSprit Fabrics and recently showed new work exploring linear themes at Ralph Pucci in New York City. Last fall she shared her quilt design process in a Creating feature in the Wall Street Journal (9.10.11). Last fall New York-based painter Sonya Sklaroff PT ( showed paintings in New York Portraits, Part III, a solo exhibition at Galerie Sparts in Paris.

1993 In his latest video, Paris on Ten Valiums a Day, Lucky Leone ID/MFA 08 DM unpacks his personal “philosophy of positive pessimism.” In an 18-minute rumination, he tells an engaging, well-paced story based on an especially painful visit to Paris last year. Lucky teaches in the Sculpture department at RISD and has the good sense to sign his emails:
Lucky Leone Rumination Department
 Partial Research Foundation (“we never stop thinking about your problems”). Works by Elissa Levy GL (Brooklyn) were on view in



February and March in Show #3: Wise Blood, a group show at Field Projects, an artist-run project space in NYC. The works considered historical tracking, mapping, hunting, solitude and backcountry self-reliance. Dave Schneiderman FAV

(Sherman Oaks, CA) is one-half of the writing team behind Level Up, a new movie and series for the Cartoon Network. The comedy features three highschool gamers who accidentally open a portal from an online game, unleashing a bevy of villains into the real world. Lois Weinthal BArch (Austin, TX) is pleased to announce the release of two new books: Toward a New Interior: An Anthology of Interior Design Theory, which she edited, and After Taste: Expanded Practices

Christina Burch 94 PR Tina ( was one of five artists commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar and Swarovski, the global crystal manufacturer, to create one-of-a-kind pieces like this one, Crystal Palace (32 x 32"), highlighting innovative uses of crystals. Featured in the magazine’s 2011 holiday issue, the works were subsequently auctioned off to benefit The Art of Elysium, an organization that brings art and artists into children’s hospitals. Tina is based in Ann Arbor, MI.

in Interior Design, which she co-edited. Both are published by Princeton Architectural Press (see for more information). Lois is an associate professor and graduate advisor in the Master of Interior Design Program at the University of Texas/ Austin’s School of Architecture.

1994 Last fall Jason Brockert IL ( had a solo

Andrew T. Crawford

93 SC right: During the month of March, Andrew’s sculpture was featured in a solo show at Sandler Hudson Gallery in Atlanta, GA, where he lives. He also created a new series of sculptural metal gates for the Atlanta Botanical Garden, adding to the previous pieces he has made for the site. Ranging in scale from small to monumental, the gates depict flowers, vegetables and birds as well as abstract curves and industrial shapes.

show at iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles. The paintings in American Icons explored pop culture through commercial icons such as Star Wars action figures, the Commodore 64 and Collecovision. Jason lives in Holliston, MA. Kristin DiVona IL/MAT 98

(West Warwick, RI) has joined the Providence firm (add)ventures as assistant director for design and branding. She was previously an art director for Brown University publications and Rhode Island Monthly magazine.

Rebecca Hannon 95 JM Rebecca recently completed a three-month artist residency on the remote French Polynesian Island of Hiva Oa, which is famous for being the final resting spot for both Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel. While she was there, she created paper ornaments and masks like these. Her jewelry was also included in Schmuck 2012, a week of jewelry-related talks, exhibitions and parties that springs up every March in Munich, Germany. Rebecca is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

well received by the public so far. The album titled I’m Disoriented can be heard on my website:” Asher Danburg ID and Chelsea (Mackall) Danburg TX had a baby boy, Cole Bowen

Danburg, on January 22, 2012. Cole, whose middle name honors the house on Bowen Street where Asher and Chelsea met, was born at home in Norwalk, CT and joins brothers Lucas, 7, and Liam, 5.

1995 Last fall Rajive Anand PT ( was featured in a video interview with accompanying pictures on StylelikeU, a New York-based web magazine dedicated to delivering “freedom of expression through personal style” to an international community. A high school art teacher in the NYC public school system, Rajive described how he reinvents the status

quo by “putting well-known archetypes in a foreign context.” Last winter Karim Chaya ID presented Beirut Rock Center at the Beirut Art Center in

Barry Beach 95 SC Bunker #1 and Bunker #2 were among the works in De-Mobbing: Landscape, Structure, Bioform, a winter show at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA. Barry ( lives in San Rafael, CA.

Lebanon, where he lives. The show featured 20-plus rockingchair designs that gallery visitors were invited to try out for themselves. Seth MacFarlane FAV was all over this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, previewing his latest efforts—a remake of The Flintstones and his feature-length directorial debut Ted, which began filming last year in Boston. In the movie, a grown man gets his longstanding wish—for his teddy bear to come to life. Seth’s hit animated TV series Family Guy won a technical Emmy for sound mixing at last fall’s awards ceremony.

Peter Treadway ID

(see page 13)

1997 15th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012 Karelle Levy TX (Miami)

presented apparel from her DiscGlo line of KRELwear ( at Exhibit Ambush, a night of emerging fashion designers and visual artists held last October at Horton Plaza in San Diego, CA.

Miami New Times named Karelle one of its 30 Miami People 2011; check out the article online (11.24.11). Karelle is now dividing her work and life between Miami and New York City—check the krelwear website to keep up with her many events, notices in the press and Quickie Couture appearances. Dana Lipnickas GD (Brooklyn) writes: “I was promoted to studio manager at CNNMoney. com, CNN’s financial website. I now oversee all daily design requests in the newsroom, coordinate team responsibilities and product and development needs. I had previously been senior designer for four years.” Gerard Minakawa ID (Santa Monica, CA) wrote to let us know that videos documenting his ongoing work with bamboo as a structural and design material are now online at his Bamboo DNA company’s website:

Tina McCurdy IL (Portland,

CT) has two current and recent solo exhibitions: Flora and Fauna of My Travels at the Rhode Island Audubon Society in Bristol (March – April 2012), and Paintings and Drawings: TINAesque, on view throughout 2012 at Eli Cannon’s Trading Company in Middletown, CT.

1996 In January and February Marc Cavello FAV (Locust Valley, NY) had a solo show entitled DO YOU LOVE ME? at Pleiades Gallery in New York City. Additionally, he writes, “I am releasing two new music albums. I produce, write, perform, record and edit these albums and they have been Please email class notes submissions to:

Jeffrey Hantman 95 PR Selected as an Artist in Residence (AIR) Krems, Jeffrey (Oakland, CA) has been doing a 10-week residency in Krems, Austria this spring. He is also one of six artists selected for a four-month residency at Recology, an integrated resource-recovery company in San Francisco, in late fall and early winter 2013. The program provides artists with access to materials that would have otherwise gone to a landfill or recycling facility, a stipend and exhibition space.

spring/summer 2012


John Gordon Gauld 99 PT A simple case of them or me (2010, oil on linen, 20 x 30”) is among the works by John ( on view in June in a solo show at Salomon Contemporary in NYC. Last December he showed Tickle Your Fancy at Salomon Contemporary, which, “in the spirit of Saint Nick,” featured 100 works on paper focused on “a medley of facial hair.” John, who lives in Brooklyn, originally created the series for the 2011 men’s collection windows at Bergdorf Goodman and response was overwhelming — from “aficionados and haters alike.”

1998 Addie Langford BArch

(Detroit, MI) recently took a new position as director of development at ArtServe Michigan, a statewide arts-advocacy organization. She will be responsible for ArtServe’s fundraising efforts and building sustainable revenue streams to support organizational growth and capacity building.

Daniel A. Bruce 01 SC Pig with Wings (2012, neon, expanded PVC, transformer, electricity, 44 x 39 x 4”) is among the pieces Daniel showed in an early spring solo show at Dean Project gallery in NYC. He lives in Long Island City, NY.

Work by Brian Martin IL (Seekonk, MA) was included in More Real Than Real: Realism from the US and Canada, a show held last November at Peter Walker Fine Art in Adelaide, South Australia. Seher Shah BArch (Brooklyn; has had a busy spring, participating in the group shows Lines of Control at Cornell University’s Johnson Museum of Art; Intersections on Paper at the Sherin Najjar gallery in Berlin, Germany; Cynical Love: Life in the Everyday at the Kiran Nader Museum of Art in New Delhi, India; and Brute Ornament at the Green Art gallery in Dubai, U.A.E. Stephanie Ward AP

(see page 12)

Jessica Hemmings 99 TX Jessica ( recently completed two news books: Warp & Weft: Woven Textiles in Fashion, Interiors & Art (A&C Black, 2012), which considers the woven structure and its use in recent experimental art and design, and The Textile Reader (Berg, 2012), an anthology she edited and describes as the first “to address textiles as a distinctive area of cultural practice and a developing field of scholarly research.” Jessica lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.



L. Mylott Manning 01 SC Mylott ( recently performed Smash, Crumble and Grind (Chalk Dress), an interdisciplinary performance piece, on NYC’s Lower East Side. Wearing a garment made of 56 rabbitshaped chalk pieces, she cut squares of black fabric, rubbed the chalk into powder, created drawings on the fabric and hung the squares to form a layered installation.

1999 Emily Neville Brown GD and Mark Brown welcomed a baby boy named Henry on January 29, 2011. The family lives in Oak Park, IL.

Random Zine #10, the first eBook by John Freeborn BArch (Philadelphia, PA), is now available through the Apple bookstore. The digital zine is 100 pages long with work from 20 artists. John says it is his “first foray into this new form of publishing.” Sandra Gibson FAV (NYC) and Luis Recoder worked with architect Robert Tan 76 Arch (NYC) and Judy Gerrard on a large-scale public sculpture installed in New York City’s Madison Square Park from March through May.

Antoine Revoy 99 FAV Antoine’s painting The Seed is included in the new annuals published by the Society of Illustrators and his logo design work was also recognized by the jury of Graphis and will be published in Graphis Logo Design 8. His collaborative work with fellow RISD faculty member Kelly Murphy 99 IL was shown recently at the Museum of American Illustration in NYC.

August 31, 2011, joining older sister Juliette Eva Rose Devinat, who is two years old. The family lives in Providence. Alex Dodge PT (Brooklyn)

showed work last fall at the Forth Estate booth at E/AB Art Fair in New York City.

Head Space, a show of photographic assemblages by Yamini Nayar PH (Brooklyn;, was on view last fall at Thomas Erben Gallery in NYC. The show was reviewed in ArtForum, The Art Economist, The New Yorker, the online Whitewall Magazine, Art in America and Art Papers. In addition, Thomas Erben Gallery showed her work at the India Art Fair held in January in New Delhi.

Jo Dery 00 FAV One of 23 artists selected for inclusion in the 2012 biennial at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA, Jo was invited to transform the museum’s DeNormandie Library, where she created an installation called Chapter Three. It includes three circular books and a set of wooden dice she made to sit on the library’s long wooden table, along with an animated projection showing a series of books as their blank pages fill with writing. Jo recently relocated to Chicago, where she’s an assistant professor of animation in DePaul University’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media.

A decade’s worth of playful books and illustrations by Jarrett J. Krosoczka IL (Florence, MA; were featured in Monkey Boy to Lunch Lady: Ten Years of Jarrett J. Krosoczka, a fall 2011 show at Worcester [MA] Art Museum. As an alumnus of Worcester’s Gates Lane School, he was further

honored by the Worcester Educational Development Foundation as one of its 2011 Distinguished Alumni and Friends of the Worcester Public Schools. Jarrett exhibited The Art of Story: A decade of original works by J.J.K. at Imagoe Dei, a gallery in Houston co-owned by Jamie (Assad) Wells 99 IL.

Please email class notes submissions to:

Last fall Brett Cody Rogers PT exhibited in Painter’s Forms, a solo show at Pepin Moore gallery in Los Angeles, where he lives.

In January Lee Su BArch ( exhibited Sketches of Light from the Shoulders of Giants at 4-D Studio in Harvard, MA. Lee’s “investigative digital art” focuses on light, color vision, and color space. He also had his first major solo exhibition at Harvard’s Old Library in March. Lee lives in Ayer, MA.

2001 Meghan (Cowan) Devinat JM

and Benoit Devinat ID/BID 02 are happy to share news of the birth of their second daughter Emiline Violette Mae Devinat. Emiline was born on

Katie Herzog PT (Los Angeles) exhibited 50-plus works last winter in Object Oriented Programming, a solo show at the PARC company in Palo Alto, CA stemming from her “ongoing phenomenological and vocational exploration of information culture.” Last fall Katie performed Literaturwurst at Festival on the Green in Storrs, CT and the University of Connecticut Co-op. For the literary performance piece, she solicited book requests from the public, which she then retrieved online, printed, shredded and made into book sausages.

Tyler Hatch 01 IL Tyler and his wife Beth were excited about the birth of their daughter, Penelope Anne Hatch, on September 7, 2010. She’s shown here hanging out with her big brother Lucas. The family lives in Cleveland, OH.

2000 If you’re in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles, be sure to check out Pizzanista! (—a neighborhood pizzeria opened recently by Price Latimer Agah GD along with her husband Salman Agah and her brother Roby Latimer. The restaurant “blends the historic flavor and thin-crust style of New York pizza with California’s abundance of fresh produce and all-natural ingredients,” she says. spring/summer 2012


2002 10th Reunion October 5 – 7, 2012

Bear with Me, the debut kids’ picture book by Max Kornell IL (, was named the best picture book of 2011 by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. Max lives in LA. Kate Sweater Hickcox FD

( and Pete Edwards 00 SC (Troy, NY) were married in 2011. Last August Kate graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Master of Science degree in Architectural Sciences (Lighting). Jay Salvas GD (see page 16)

2003 Adam Berninger GD (NYC)

recently announced the launch of Tender Creative’s first website ( An advertising and digital design agency started more

than six years ago, Tender Creative has worked with clients ranging from Converse to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Last fall Jessica Hess IL ( showed new work in Drawing Crazy Patterns on the Sheets, a group exhibition at Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington, MA. Jessica is based in San Francisco.

This summer Chandler O’Leary IL (Tacoma, WA) will teach a weeklong letterpress workshop called Old Dog, New Tricks with collaborator Jessica Spring at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina from August 26–September 1. Tom Pytel IL (Bristol, CT)

recently joined CAMICO as vice president of marketing and communications. CAMICO is the nation’s largest CPA-focused program of

professional and employment practices liability insurance for the accounting profession. Thomas Quinn GD

(see page 10)

Christina Rodriguez IL

( illustrated a bilingual children’s book, Adelita and the Veggie Cousins/Adelita y las primas verduritas, which was

Sonia Romero 02 PT This triptych, called Awakening (2012, acrylic and papercut on paper, 22 x 33" each), is among the works on view earlier this spring in Domestic Disobedience: Redefining the Feminine Space. The group show at San Diego [CA] Mesa College Art Gallery featured the work of 11 Latina artists who express “domestic defiance” and “playfully redefine the domestic space to reflect their bicultural sensibilities.” Sonia is based in Altadena, CA.

N. Silas Munro GD (Raleigh, NC), design director for the NYC firm Housing Works, wrote to report that his design team has won a Sappi Ideas that Matter grant to support a housing effort for people living with HIV/AIDS. To further their goal of developing 500 living units, the firm will use the grant to develop an informational broadsheet that will be distributed to shoppers at Housing Works’ high-end thrift shops in New York.


our risd for much more on the work and ideas generated by our creative community


Behance Enhance what you’ve already got. Share your portfolio with creative professionals all over the world.

Nina Freudenberger

BArch 03 + David Stark 91 PT

Rebekah LaCourse 04 IL This painting of a pair of wood ducks recently won the 2011 Maine Waterfowl Stamp competition sponsored by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Based in Hollis Center, ME, Rebekah ( was also pleased that the department auctioned off a print of her work to benefit waterfowl conservation efforts.

published last fall by Arte Público Press. Part of a series promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles for Latino children, free copies of the book were distributed to more than 150,000 low-income families in over a dozen states. Christina is based in Providence.

teaching video skills to youths in an Aymara community in Peru. He was recently granted a year long residency by Escuelab in Lima, Peru. Brian Chesky ID (see page 85) Daisy Ruivo Currais AP

and William M. Cameron IV (Newark, NJ) welcomed a daughter, Zoe Currais Cameron, on July 27, 2011. The proud parents were married on September 27, 2008; Daisy has been working as a shoe

designer and recently helped launch the B Brian Atwood brand for the Jones Group. Boston-based artist John C. Gonzalez IL (johncgonzalez. com) participated in the fall 2011 group show Looking Both Ways at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI; he also joined 26 other alumni of Skowhegan for a September performance event at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, NY. John’s piece was an audience-participation time

Aaron Tsui ID (see page 13)

capsule that will be buried for 10 years and unearthed on September 25, 2021. At the end of the 2011 holiday season, Michael Neff PH ( dangled a collection of discarded Christmas trees under the BQE bridge in Brooklyn, where he lives. The installation drew a fair amount of attention, from both passersby and the blogosphere. Michael’s work was included in New Prints, a show held last winter at the University of Texas at Austin,

As the owner of Haus Interior in Manhattan, Nina met David at a RISD alumni function and soon decided to invite him to create a “surprise ambush” of her store — a conceptual pop-up called “Wood Shop,” full of objects and accessories made from and inspired by wood and woodworking. The wood stuff transformed Haus for the month of February and lit up the blogosphere with posts in Design Sponge, Dwell, The New York Times, Apartment Therapy, Stylist Home and loads of other sites — including

and in New Prints 2012/Winter, on view in February and March at IPCNY in New York City. In early February Michael completed a two-week artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

Jordan Wolfson 03 SC


Jordan (Brooklyn) screened his video Animation, masks at the January opening of his solo show at the New York gallery Alex Zachary Peter Currie. The 12-minute CGI video was produced with a team of professional animators and is focused on a character Jordan compiled from Google image searches for “evil Jew” and “Shylock,” literature’s most flagrant personification of anti-Semitism.

Rachael Becker AP

(see page 13) Bryan Boyer IA and Marco Steinberg BArch 91 (Helsinki,

Finland) co-wrote Recipes for Systemic Change (helsinki, a book about strategic design. Bryan is currently the design lead for the strategic design unit at Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Brooke Budner PT

(see page 14) Aymar Ccopacatty SC

( wrote to alert us to his blog (qamasa.escuelab. org), which details his work

Send us your XYZ info!

Tell us what you’re up to and we’ll share your news with the RISD community.

Here are some of the ways you can contribute to your magazine:

upcoming deadlines:

1/ submit updates (professional and personal) to class notes

September 1 for Fall 2012 (due out in late October)

2/ comment on the content of each issue 3/ submit exhibition information for current + upcoming shows


Please email class notes submissions to:

To submit information via post, write to: RISD XYZ, Two College Street, Providence, RI 02903 For address updates/mailing issues:

spring/summer 2012


Owen Adams Williams 07 GL + Elizabeth Myriam Diamond 99 PT Owen and Elizabeth were married on September 24, 2011 on Cold Storage Beach in East Dennis, MA. Fellow alums Pia Blumenthal 07 FAV, Lisa Adang 07 FAV, Troy Cabral 07 PT and Kate MahoneyCobb 08 PH were among the guests helping them to celebrate. Liz and Owen live with their grey tiger cat and their red-tick coonhound in Northampton, MA. They met during a Zombie Pub Crawl and say it’s been an adventure ever since.

Last fall Rich Brilliant Willing (— the design studio run by Theo Richardson FD , Charles Brill FD and Alexander Williams FD—debuted its Delta, Quart and Channel lighting collections at SCP’s Design Department Store in East London, England. The event coincided with the London Design Festival 2011. Julia Sherman PH (see cover

and pages 20-31)

2004 continued Brooklynites Diana Schoenbrun IL and Andy Cahill 08 FAV collaborated to create and direct a music video for singer Kevin Devine’s song Off-Screen from the album Between the Concrete and Clouds. The video uses stop-motion animation and shadow puppetry, and debuted last September on rollingstone. com. Diana describes the piece: “A dead-eyed Cyclops travels through a surreal bone-dry desert filled with vultures, a burning sun, and Don Quixoteesque characters. Meanwhile the Cyclops is watching shadows projected against a cave wall through shadow puppetry. The overall effect illustrates the song’s themes of reality vs. delusion.” Maie Liis (Vaga) Webb GD

and Nora (Farrell) Alexander 03 ID run Noon (noondesign, a jewelry and paper goods company with two shops in southern California and 70 retailers across the country that sell its products.

2005 Spirare Surfboards (spirare, the recycled84


materials surfboard company owned by Kevin Cunningham BArch (Providence), is featured in the documentary film One Beach by John Baffa. Matt Grigsby ID (see page 17) Irina Kozlovskaya ID

(see page 13) Watercolor magazine named Michael Lyons IL (michael one of 25 Artists to Watch in its 25thanniversary issue (fall 2011). He recently moved back to Providence after living in New York City for several years. The Art Directors Club named Jon Saunders IL (NYC; one of its 50 Young Guns in 2011. He’s a designer and director at Psyop in New York City.

2006 Two products designed by Caroline Park ID (Venice, CA) are featured in the MoMA Design Store: Measure Mill, a salt/pepper/spice grinder with a measuring base, and Tilting Tool Crock, a swiveling organizer that provides easy access to kitchen tools.

Elizabeth Zunon IL (Albany, NY) has burst onto the children’s book scene with three books published last fall and winter: her debut, My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey (Marshall Cavendish) was released in September; Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby by Patricia MacLachlan (Candlewick Press) in November; and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (Dial Books) came out in January. She recently completed work on her fourth book, A President from Hawaii.

Rich Pellegrino 06 IL This portrait of Bill Murray — with the actor as his iconic Caddyshack character — was featured in Entertainment Weekly last November (11.11.11). His portraits of Murray also popped up in a show at SpokeArt gallery in San Francisco, one of three group exhibitions he participated in last fall. The others were at Gallery 1988 and Q Pop Shop, both in Los Angeles. Rich is based in Warwick, RI.

Please email class notes submissions to:

Isadora Leidenfrost 04 SC Through Soulful Media, her multimedia design production company in Madison, WI, Isadora is working on finalizing a documentary due out this fall called Things We Don’t Talk About ( It’s a full-length feature focused on the Red Tent (aka Red Tent Temples or Moon Lodges) women’s empowerment movement, a grassroots spiritual quest that has been growing throughout the US over the past five years.

2007 Two underground supper clubs that have gained a following in Providence are run in part by RISD Illustration alumni: Erin Danna IL and Sarah Kern 10 IL are chefs for Sunday Supper, and Patricia Coulter Schiller 00 IL is involved with 3 Chefs’ Collective. The Providence

Journal featured the clubs in an article in fall 2011. After working at Target since 2007, Jesse Lynch GD (Minneapolis, MN) earned a second promotion last fall and is now enjoying his new responsibilities as a senior specialist art director/graphic designer.

Fast-moving Phenom

It’s the kind of brilliant idea most

people probably wish they’d had themselves: rent out a room, an apartment, a studio you don’t use 24/7 — any space that’s clean and habitable — to a visitor looking for a comfortable, inexpensive place to stay. If you’re the owner, you’re happy to earn a few extra bucks for space you’re not using anyway; if you’re the lodger, you’re pleased to have found a decent place to stay for half the cost of the cheapest hotel in town. What’s not to like? Just four years after Joe Gebbia 05 ID/GD and Joe Chesky 04 ID teamed up to get their fledgling idea off the ground, Airbnb has

Joe Gebbia 05 ID + Brian Chesky 04 ID

facilitated more than 4.5 million bookings in 192 countries and “has become a disruptive force in the stagnant hotel industry, a major driver behind what’s now called the sharing economy and, perhaps most significantly, proof of the value of design in the engineering-centric tech world,” as Fast Company noted in naming it one of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2012. But Airbnb sure didn’t start out that way. At RISD Gebbia and Chesky were known as go-getters who ran the Balls and the Nads basketball and hockey teams, respectively. After school Gebbia finally convinced Chesky to quit his job in LA in 2007 and move to San Francisco so the two of them could start a business — just as the economy was on the brink of freefall. The week Chesky moved in Gebbia’s landlord raised his rent by 20%, leaving the two jobless entrepreneurs in a tight spot. Noticing that the hotels were sold out due to a major design conference in town, they inflated an airbed in their living room and emailed a few top design blogs to offer their space to out-of-town visitors. Envisioning that they might actually provide breakfast, On View Now

risd:store 30 North Main Street | Providence 401 454-6464 find us on Facebook + Twitter

too, they came up with the name Airbed & Breakfast and actually got three bookings. “We earned enough money to save the apartment,” Gebbia says. A year later, with $20,000 in credit card debt and no investors willing to help, they pulled another idea out of their design hat: Build on the “breakfast” part of the business with two branded cereals, Obama O’s and Cap’n McCain’s, to sell online during the height of the 2008 election. Thanks to national press coverage, the promotion netted Airbnb $30,000 — enough to keep the company going until Paul Graham and Y Combinator came through with $20,000 in seed funding in early 2009. Last year investors plowed another $112 million into Airbnb, giving it a $1.3 billion valuation. Beyond the many clones it has since inspired — from companies for renting everything from parking spaces to boats and motorcycles —Airbnb’s primary influence may be in changing the way venture capitalists think about design. “Design used to be an afterthought,” Gebbia says. Now, most startups recognize designers as crucial to their success. Book a room or find out more at

Jemima Kirke 08 PT As in Lena Dunham’s 2010 film Tiny Furniture, Jemima is again co-starring as Lena’s headstrong friend in Girls, the new HBO comedy that began airing on April 15. The show focuses on a lightly fictionalized version of Lena and three of her best buds (in real life and on the show) as they attempt to make sense of their lives, loves, money problems and identities as 20-somethings starting out in Brooklyn.

2007 continued Nick Mahshie PT (tranqui writes: “Over the past 3.5 years, I have based my artistic practice in Buenos Aires, Argentina, producing fashion shows with handpainted cardboard costumes, collaborating with other artists, musicians and choreographers. I have created performance art projects for the art fair ArteBA, and received a scholarship

to produce a piece for the Fundación Telefoníca. My work has also been featured in various publications, including Time Out BA, Nylon Guys, the Buenos Aires Herald, La Nacion and Clarín, as well as fashion and culture-related magazines in Europe. I just returned from Europe, where I exhibited work in Zurich, Switzerland, in collaboration with a former RISD exchange student and

was invited to create original stage design, costumes and performances in Paris at a new venue called Le Petit Bain.” Last winter Nick led workshops on wearable art at the Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) in New York City and exhibited (under his pseudonym Tranqui Yanqui) in Make Art (In) Public, the inaugural show at CMA’s new facility.

Brandon Miller GD/MFA 07, creative director of Tank Design in Cambridge, MA, won the Logo Contest in the 2012 Marblehead [MA] Festival of Arts, which takes place in the town where he lives.

lives. Several RISD alumni exhibited: Ashley Caputo PH (San Francisco), Ray Sumser 08 FAV (Santa Cruz, CA), Elana Adler 08 TX (Larchmont, NY), Morgan Blair 08 IL (Brooklyn) and Kim herself.

James Minola ID (see pages

Natalie Stopka IL (natalie has earned the 2011 – 12 Edward and Sally Van Lier/Stein Family Scholarship for Advanced Study in Book Arts from the Center for Book Arts in New York.

20-31) In February Lindsey Newman IL showed mixed-media work in the inaugural Emerging Artists Exhibit at the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center in her hometown of Palos Park, IL. In January Lisa Rock PT and Sam Carr-Prindle PT showed

their paintings in Double Vision, a two-person exhibition at Classic Cars West Gallery in Oakland, CA, where they both live. Kim Sikora PH curated a fall 2011 group show in the Potluck Art Series at Goforaloop Gallery in San Francisco, where she

China Calling

Laura Worrick 08 IL and her boyfriend David Elden did what a lot of 21st-century art and design graduates do: they teamed up to start a new business. WE Design Studios combines the initials in their last names and the ethos behind their multifaceted partnership, which encourages “all creative people to be part of the design process.” Then, one year into it, the WE designers did something most young American entrepreneurs don’t do. Facing dwindling savings and a grim economy in the US, they suddenly had a brilliant idea about how to cope—and satisfy their urge to travel at the same time. They would buy a cheap plane ticket and relocate to Beijing for “adventure and opportunity.”

Two years after graduation



Over the winter Allison Valchuis CR (NYC) showed two

new pieces in the 92Y Faculty Exhibition at the 92nd Street Y in New York City; she also offered “affordable art” at the Degenerate Craft Fair held in Brooklyn in December.

2008 After spending three years producing and co-editing the feature documentary Queen

Laura Worrick 08 IL “We were looking for a chance to grow our business and based on what a friend told us who was living there, Beijing was the perfect place to find new clients and expand,” Worrick says. “So we packed our bags and computers and moved over there.” Once situated, WE Design got a fair amount of work with the expat community and began working with a cultural center called The Hutong, which asked the two Americans to be in charge of their creative programming. “We ran the life drawing classes as well as the Hutong Sketch Tour, a 3-hour walking/sketching/historical tour of old neighborhoods in Beijing,” Worrick explains. By January of this year, WE had been fielding so many questions from other creative Americans interested in exploring opportunities in China that the studio self-published a guide called The Job Nomad: Beijing. “It’s not

For more, follow Laura’s blog and join The Art Club at

a tourist guide,” Worrick says. “It’s for people who want to live in Beijing, so it covers everything from getting a job to learning how to set up a bank account.” Although their adventure in the megalopolis proved to be an amazing learning experience and they loved working with The Hutong, “we ultimately felt drained by life in China and were looking to move on,” Worrick says. Fortuitously, RISD’s Center for Student Involvement was looking for a new Program Coordinator this spring and when she was offered the job, she immediately accepted. “I’ve been longing to come back to RISD and this was the perfect opportunity,” the designer says. Now Worrick intends to divide her time between working with current RISD students and marketing WE Design Studios’ latest product: Mason jar pendant lights and custom chandeliers sold on Etsy.

of the Sun: What Are the Bees Brooklyn-based artist Alexandra Rubin GD (alexandra Telling Us?, Jon Betz FAV is pleased that the film was a New has started a new art York Times Critic’s Pick in 2011 business called Stars & Space, and earned an Honorable “a collection of paintings that Mention in the prestigious Pare celebrate the achievements Lorentz Award competition. of NASA and the space shuttle The documentary (queenof era,” she explains. The series about the global was “inspired by my amazing honeybee crisis was shown in experience as an intern at US theaters last year and is now NASA, where I was the first widely available on DVD and at RISD student to work for the online outlets. Jon is currently Kennedy Space Center.” She the director of Collective Eye sells the paintings on Films, a nonprofit film Raymond Sumser FAV (Santa production and distribution company based in Portland, OR, Cruz, CA) recently launched a new website:, where he lives with wife and where he is selling prints of one-year-old daughter. his huge, obsessively detailed new painting, the Cartoonuum. Megan Bullock GD (Brooklyn) The 11 x 6.5' oil and marker on recently founded MESH canvas piece celebrates his love (, a design/web of cartoons. studio that works with nonprofits and small businesses In December Meg Turner PR across the country. ( presented No Trespassing, a show of polymer Asher Dunn ID (see page 17) and copper photogravures Work by Stephen Green ID of industrial ruins, at the Alvar (Mendocino, CA) and Yu Ito 09 Library in New Orleans, where ID (Yokohama, Japan) was inshe lives. The exhibition was cluded in the winter show Future part of PHOTO NOLA’s Tradition WAO at Capsule celebration of contemporary Studio in NYC. “WAO” is a photography. combination of two Japanese words: WA ( ) + O ( ), sigMelissa Tyson JM and nifying “the rebirth of Japan,” Kerrie Yeung JM recently “In 2008 I moved to Cambodia and is meant to suggest the word started the Bloomfield School where I assumed the role “wow.” The exhibition sought (, an of chief field architect for the to merge New and Old World art program in Brooklyn, NY South Cardamom Conservation methods via “future tradition” taught by artist instructors in for Development Plan, which products created through collatheir own studios. Melissa and was established to design and boration between designers, Kerrie co-taught two jewelry master plan a new national producers and companies. wax classes last fall, and they’re working on adding more instruc- park system for the southwestern region of Cambodia. I Work by Charlie Immer IL tors so that they can offer returned to the US in 2010 to (Hagerstown, MD) was featured a broad range of workshops. pursue a Masters of Science in in About Face, a winter show Sustainable Design from the of contemporary portraiture Ahti Westphal BArch University of Minnesota, where held at WWA Gallery in Culver (Appleton, WI; ahtiwestphal. I have been working with the City, CA. com) wrote with this update: Cham people—the Islamic ethnic minority in Cambodia— to design a library and language education center for the preservation of Cham language and culture.” In December he gave a talk at Brown University

Michael Langan 07 FAV In January Michael’s latest film, Choros — made with Terah Maher — premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand [France] International Short Film Festival. The Seattle-based filmmaker ( also discussed his recent short film Heliotropes and other work in an interview with The Atlantic (9.7.11) that was featured on the magazine’s website.

and participated in a conference organized by RISD Architecture Professor Lynnette Widder on architects whose work focuses on “humanitarian or socially conscious architecture and interventions in a globalized world.”

2009 In February Becca Barnet IL (Spartanburg, SC) exhibited her

Nicholas Kole 09 IL A chance meeting at an opening brought two generations of RISD grads together: Nicholas and his girlfriend Elise Fachon 12 FAV, who enjoyed chatting with Salley Mavor 78 IL, the well-known children’s book illustrator. Nicholas’ mother Terry (who, like Salley, had work in the winter show at the Cotuit [MA] Center for the Arts) reports that Nicholas is working at 38 Studios in Providence as a character designer, while Elise finishes her degree and awaits her “launch into the world of art!” Salley ( continues to create engaging 3D textiles-based illustrations out of her studio in Falmouth, MA.

Please email class notes submissions to:

work in It is starting like this: curiosities by Becca Barnet at Rick Rhodes Photography and Imaging, LLC in Charleston, SC. Becca specializes in taxidermy repair, and through her work she questions the human tendency to “try to hold on to the fleeting corporeal.” Last winter Matthew Draving SC (Meadowbrook, PA) and Hugh Zeigler PT (Richmond, VA) exhibited work in a group show at Johansson Projects in Oakland, CA entitled New Document. Chad Houle PH has been

promoted to a senior specialist digital technician at Target’s Corporate Headquarters in Minneapolis, where he lives. Chad joined the company in March 2010. spring/summer 2012


in August. Martha promises that “it’s going to be amazing.”

2011 In January Joe Freeman, Jr. PH (Providence) showed a series of hand-developed silver gelatin photographs in a group show at the Wachtung [NJ] Arts Center. Ceramics by Rebecca Manson CR were recently shown at the LA gallery

Dana Davis 11 GD While she was at RISD, Dana ( diligently catalogued student finery on her blog RISD Streetwalkers. Now living in NYC, she has turned the blog into a book that’s available for sale at She also sold the nifty compendium of RISD student behavior at the Alumni Spring Sale in Providence on May 5.

2010 Last fall Peter Barbor CR ( was an artist-in-residence at the Worcester [MA] Center for Crafts (in the city where he lives). He’s currently creating large-scale figurative sculptures that explore themes of boy/manhood. On December 5 clinical trials began in Vietnam for Firefly Phototherapy, the infant incubator Will Harris ID and Alicia Lew 11 ID worked on at RISD and Will has since while working for Design that Matters in Cambridge, MA. “I just returned from a one-

month trip to Hanoi, setting up and observing the trial,” Will wrote in January, “and am happy to say that it is being embraced by both doctors and parents, as well as treating infants [with jaundice] in about 30 percent of the time as other devices currently in their hospitals.” As an animator at Laika, Martha Grant FAV (Middlebury, CT) has been hard at work detailing the faces and doing everything else it takes to make an animated feature like ParaNorman a success. The new film, produced by the makers of Coraline, is due out

Eric Dinges 12 AP + Zev Schwartz 12 AP For their final fling in Apparel Design, Eric and Zev went theatrical, creating a collection based on the casinos on the Las Vegas strip. “We imagined a Las Vegas in which each of the casinos is a gang headquarters and we are designing outfits for the gang lords” of such casinos as Circus Circus, the Flamingo, MGM Grand, the Stratosphere, Excalibur and Luxor.



Phoebe Wahl 12 IL + Chris Cyr 12 IL above l-r: Phoebe’s illustration Sleighride won her the $2000 Nancy Lee Rhodes Scholarship in the highly competitive 2012 Society of Illustrators New York competition and show, while Chris’ piece The Night Ferry earned recognition via the $1,000 Shrunken Headman Club Scholarship. Overall, three RISD Illustration majors won scholarships (YooHee Yoon 11 IL landed top honors for the second year in a row) and seven had work admitted to the show. “This is the it organization for Illustrators,” notes Assistant Professor Susan Doyle 81 IL/MFA 98 PT/PR. “Everyone wants to make it into the show since it gets you into the SOI catalogue, which is the biggest reference used by art directors and designers looking to hire new talent.”

Research & Development, run by fellow grads Ryan McIntosh PR and Danielle Lange 09 PT . Rebecca’s creations arise from pieces she’s hammered into shards or fired to the brink of collapse. “There are infinite possibilities for how things could break or melt that are beyond my control,” she says. “Putting the work out of my hands allows me to see things in ways I never would have otherwise. I think that’s how society works, too—different societies have shown their most beautiful moments coming out of periods of great struggle and devastation.”

Nicole Gsell 10 IL Nicole ( recently illustrated her first children’s book, Sam and Ben (Pinwheel Books), a story about twin brothers by Sylvia Pagán Westphal. Nicole is represented by Writer’s House LLC and is based in Glen Head, NY.

Julian Marshall 12 FAV This spring Julian pulled out all the stops to make OBEY THE GIANT, a short narrative film about Shepard Fairey 92 IL during his RISD days, when he was just launching his Andre the Giant street art campaign. Julian co-wrote and directed the film — with Shep’s blessing — and raised well over his $30K goal through Kickstarter for editing and post-production work. He plans to push the film on the festival circuit after it makes its world premiere at RISD’s own Senior Film Festival in May.

Deaths Kellie Riggs JM is having a great time during her Fulbright year abroad in Italy this year, and invites friends to visit both her blog and website to see what she’s been up to during her travels: greaterthanor and

2014 RISD students Alec Babala ID and Otis Gray SC recently teamed up with two students from Johnson & Wales University to do the graphics, creative advertising and fabrication for Radish, a new food truck making its debut in Providence this spring. Besides serving organic farm-fresh food, the Radish team also plans to promote

an artist, musician, cook and adventurer every month via its truck and website.

Ruth (Donaldson) Harrison


Esther (Greenberg) Chester

of Pennsburg, PA on October 11, 2011.

41 AE of Providence, RI on February 16, 2012.

Samuel L. Guiffre 66 IA

With funds raised via Kickstarter, RISD students Genevieve Marsh BArch 16, Caitlyn Au GL, Denali Schmidt FAV and Joshua Shiau ID are on a mission to

create a cool art car—a bona fide Mutant Vehicle—for this summer’s Burning Man festival in Black Rock, NV. Using a 1993 Previa minivan as the underlying structure, the team will create a huge mobile sculpture adorned with pinwheels created by contributors.

36 AP* of North Kingstown, RI

on September 25, 2011.

Virginia (Lockwood) Goodby 41 IA of Gladwyne, PA on December 30, 2011. Avery Rogers Brooke 45 PT of Darien, CT on January 9, 2012. David L. Strout 47 PT of

Cornish, ME on March 9, 2011. Helen (Henneberger) Bettoney 48 IL of North Sutton,

below: Christine’s illustration Minimum Wage and Will’s piece Man vs Nature got them into the 2012 Society of Illustrators West show, which comes with a great two-year web promo that’s exceptionally helpful to illustrators just starting out.

Robert M. “Bob” Hurwit BArch 66 of West Hartford and Cheshire, CT on June 25, 2011. Marcia (Gott) Busch-Jones 67 GD of Bloomington, IN on

December 2, 2011. George H. Myrick BArch 68

Harold D. Fine 48 Arch of

of North Scituate, RI on December 11, 2011.

Rehoboth, MA on December 14, 2011.

Webster, NY on October 17, 2011. Kenneth Donald Kirkman 49 MD* of Warwick, RI on

Constance Elizabeth Coleman 70 TX* of Pipersville,

PA on August 23, 2011. James Harrison Watts BArch 74 of San Diego, CA on

January 12, 2012.

March 23, 2011.

James Jay Beards 82 PH

Joan Carter 51 GD* of Vienna,

of Cumberland, RI on December 30, 2011.

VA on October 29, 2011. Ruth D. Chamberlain 57 AP

of Providence, RI on June 24, 2011. Hayes B. Warner 57 AE

of Beverly Hills, FL on November 6, 2011. Paul A. Frigon 59 ID of Largo,

Keith Phillip Hayes 83 TX

of Long Valley, NJ on April 20, 2011. Ron M. Jalon BArch 83 of

Providence, RI on February 13, 2012. Colin Cauley Bersell 87 CR of

FL on April 25, 2011.

Albuquerque, NM on August 2, 2011.

Roger Pontbriand 59 IL of Chester, VT in February 2012. (Roger taught in the RISD Illustration department from 1961–91.)

of South Glastonbury, CT on July 10, 2011.

Mary L. Russell 63 AE*

of Chatham, MA on June 9, 2011. Please email class notes submissions to:

(husband of Dotti (Oblaczynski) Guiffre MLA 02) of Wellesley, MA and Roxbury, VT on January 30, 2012.

NH on December 16, 2011.

Charles Arnold 49 IL of

Christine Yoo 12 IL + Will Smith 12 IL

Richard Baier Hopkins 64 ID

David Brewer Cox BArch 89

James Douglas 12 PT of

Belleair, FL on January 13, 2012. Cynthia Zhang 14 ID of Edison,

NJ on March 7, 2012. spring/summer 2012


graduate class notes

Dale Chihuly MFA 68 CR Torchlight Chandelier, a piece Dale created to celebrate the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in London, has been installed in London’s Park Lane. In recognition of his distinguished career creating art all over the world, the Institute of International Education (IIE) presented him with the Fritz Redlich Alumni Award at IIE’s gala dinner in New York City last fall. Dale is based in Seattle, where his studio is proud to announce that he has held 97 exhibitions in seven countries over the last 10 years that have been viewed by more than 10 million people.

1963 In November Martha (Collins) Armstrong MA

(Hatfield, MA) exhibited recent paintings in Landscapes, a solo show at the Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia.

1973 Every Picture Tells a Story, a solo show of work by Alan Metnick MFA PH (Providence), is on view through May at the

Galeria Klatka in Warsaw, Poland. The exhibition features serigraphs, pastel drawings and black and white pen-andink drawings. Work by Ben Ryterband MFA CR (Lexington, MA) and Paul Eshelman MFA 81 CR

(Elizabeth, IL) was included in The Theater of Repetition: Slipcast Ceramics, a six-person exhibition that ran from

January through March at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston.

1975 Last fall Christine Vaillancourt MAE (Boston) exhibited

new paintings and works on paper at the Accidental Gallery in South Boston.

1978 Last fall Bruce Wall MFA PT, an associate professor of Fine Arts at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, PA, exhibited in a two-person show called The Art of Indian KOLAM at the college’s Communications Hall Gallery. His photography, paintings and mixed-media installations helped illuminate the ancient folk art practice, in which rice powder, crushed stones and spices are used to make images on the floors of Hindu temples.

Brad Buckley MFA 82 SC Last fall Brad (bradbuckley. com) showed the site-specific neon installation Manifest Destiny? as part of the Plato’s Cave series at EIDIA House Studio in Brooklyn. He lives in Potts Point, Australia.



1980 Stephen Petegorsky MFA PH

(Florence, MA) is a volunteer with The Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, a group that assists people with disabilities in developing countries. Last fall he worked on the annual benefit gala held in Northampton, MA.

1982 In February Anne Sherwood Pundyk MFA PT (NYC) was the solera, or lead artist, in the installation Rapunzel in the Library (in perpetuum/forever II) at the Queens College Art Center, part of the Selma and Max Kupferberg Center for the Arts. The piece began as a site-specific solo installation that included Anne’s paintings, artist’s books and paintingbased video artworks. Other artists responded to the installation through a collaborative

Arlene Shechet

MFA 78 CR Arlene’s work was featured on the cover of the January 2012 issue of Art in America in conjunction with a feature article about her called Buckle and Flow. She’s showing this summer at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Los Angeles, and from September 12 to November 12 at Nature Morte in Berlin. A survey of Arlene’s work in paper was on view earlier this spring at Dieu Donné in NYC (see also pages 60 – 61).

Ken Druse MFA 74 FAV Ken’s 18th book, Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations, was released in March and Stewart, Tabori & Chang also reissued one of his popular earlier titles in soft cover, Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation. The New York Times calls Ken’s books “bibles for serious gardeners.”

group residency. This collective work—also on the theme of Rapunzel—culminated in its own exhibition and performance in April. Last fall Anne interviewed painter Rita Ackermann about her exhibition in Budapest for the December 2011 issue of the Brooklyn Rail.

1983 Linda DiFrenna MAE (Swansea, MA) recently had a solo exhibition of mixed-media pieces at Studio 67 in Warren, RI. She teaches at the Community College of Rhode Island.

1985 In May Darby Roach MFA GD (Seattle) is embarking on a round-the-world cycling trip. You can follow his progress on his blog: bikearoundtheworld.

1989 In addition to the major installation and exhibition now at the RISD Museum (see page 59) Spencer Finch MFA SC

Luther Smith MFA 74 PH

1991 In March Susan (Spitz) Jamison MFA PT (Roanoke, VA)

exhibited her paintings in (In)delicate, a two-person show at The George Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA. Hopes and Fears, a collaborative installation created by Judy Gelles MFA PH and Linda Brenner 62 SC (both of Philadelphia), was on view last winter at Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Nancy Wyllie MAE 77

middle, far right: photo by William Kuchinsky; bottom, right: photos by Peter Goldberg 88 PH

In December Nancy’s short film Nothing was screened at the Video Art and Experimental Film Festival 2011 in New York City. “An old mattress dumped on a busy highway has been spray painted with a seemingly familiar phrase by area teens and serves as an exploration of syntax,” she explains. “Syntax has been subverted in this video short in ways that are at once humorous and filled with 21st-century resignation.” Nancy teaches video art at the Community College of Rhode Island and lives nearby in Warwick, RI.

(Brooklyn) recently installed Lunar, a solar-powered spacecraft sculpture, on a terrace atop the modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. The glowing sculpture was on view for several months, through early April.

Stanton Gallery in Littleton, CO, where she lives. Her daughter Juliana’s band, the Mile Markers, played roots music to warm the crowd at the opening.

Juxtapositions, a solo show of work by Daphne Minkoff MFA PT, was on view last fall at Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle, where she lives.

of graduate arts education and offers MFAs in Graphic Design, Music Composition, Visual Art, Writing, and Writing for Children & Young Adults.

1992 A feature article on game designer and educator Katie Salen MFA GD was featured in the second annual Game Changers issue of Metropolis magazine (January 2012), which presented the work of 12 groundbreaking designers. Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan BArch 85,

Last winter Luther exhibited Where I Live: Photographs of the North Texas Landscape at William Campbell Contemporary Art in Ft. Worth, TX, where he lives. Shot with a large-format camera, the images depict unspoiled areas of land around his home. “I don’t think of my work as saving a place before it disappears,” Luther remarks. “It’s more a way to get in tune with a complex and troubling beauty.” He’s a professor of art at Texas Christian University.

whose practice includes designing housing for the homeless, was also among the dozen people highlighted in the issue.

Ben Ryterband MFA 73 CR Work from his Genome Series was featured in the winter show The Theater of Repetition: Slip Cast Ceramics, which ran for two and a half months at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston. Ben is based in Lexington, MA.

Matt Monk MFA GD, who has

taught at RISD since graduating, has been named Academic Dean of Vermont College for Fine Arts (VCFA) in Montpelier, VT. As the college’s chief academic officer, Matt will oversee all academic programs. VCFA is the first college in the country devoted entirely to a low-residency model

1990 In late winter and early spring Harriet Stratton MAE 90

(Littleton, CO) showed a collection of work called The Alphabet of Longing Series at the Town Hall Arts Center’s

Cliff Garten MFA 78 CR Last fall Cliff’s new sculpture Schooling was unveiled at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. The abstract forms of the piece reference a ship’s hull and schools of fish. Cliff ( is based in Cambridge, MA.

Please email class notes submissions to:

spring/summer 2012


Kathryn Hagy

MFA 99 PT/PR Kathryn’s work (kathrynhagy. com) is included in Lure of the Local: Collecting the Corridor 2006–11, a group exhibition on view through May 13 at Cedar Rapids [IA] Museum of Art. Last fall she exhibited photographs in Capturing Confluence at the Janalyn Hanson White Gallery at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, where she teaches as an associate professor of art. The show was informed by Kathryn’s travels in Nepal as a 2010 Fulbright Scholar.

Deanna Lawson

MFA 04 PH Thai (2009) is among the large-scale portraits Deanna exhibited in New Photography: 2011, a group show of work by seven emerging photographers that ran in late 2011 and early 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, where she lives. She also photographed Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, for The New Yorker (12.19.11) and participated in a Q&A with Photo Booth, the magazine’s photography blog.



Josh Owen MFA FD (Ithaca, NY)

Last fall Amy Devers MFA FD (Los Angeles) let us know that she was en route to Bali and Jakarta to conduct seminars for the design community there and to kick off the Indonesia Furniture Design competition.

recently began a new position at Rochester [NY] Institute of Technology. Visit his website ( for news of his latest design work, awards and collaborations.

Her TV work continues to offer great new opportunities, including appearances on a new series on OWN called Home Made Simple, hosted by Paige Davis of Trading Spaces. Her own show, Fix This Yard, was picked up for a third season on A&E, with new episodes airing as of March. Amy’s international travel/design series, Designer Travel, is also showing in various international markets, though not currently in the US.

Miguel Soler-Roig MFA 87 GD La Habana Contemplates the Future (2011, 20 x 200 cm) is among Miguel’s photographs on view from November through January at Galeria Alejandro Sales in Madrid, where he lives. The solo show, entitled Frontiers without Limits, included panoramic images taken in the United States, Cuba, Morocco and Spain which explore the geopolitical implications of boundaries and borders.



2003 Due to the “surprisingly early arrival of [her] most important collaborative project to date”— a daughter named Eowyn Tharp, born on November 22, 2011—Adrianne Evans MFA GL (Providence) postponed an open studio and exhibition entitled Flow. Last September, while Eowyn was still in the works, Adrianne (who teaches in RISD’s Glass department) was an artist in residence at the Corning Museum of Glass; as part of her residency she

gave a public lecture discussing her explorations in erosion, grain sorting, friction, viscosity, flow, gravity, buoyancy, pressure, heat and time.

Meridith Pingree

MFA 03 SC Last winter Meridith’s interactive kinetic works animated the Nostalgia Machines exhibition at Brown University’s Bell Gallery in Providence.

Amy Eisenfeld Genser

MFA 01 GD Dead Sea Satellite II (2011, rolled paper and acrylic on paper, 22 x 22 x 2") is among the mixed-media work shown last fall in Coiled Terrain, a solo exhibition at Long View Gallery in Washington, DC. Amy is based in West Hartford, CT.

Africa. In October she’ll present at the Green Building Council of South Africa’s annual conference.

2007 Chelsea Green MID (see

feature article, pages 20-31) In February drawings and sculpture by Stephanie Williams SC (Alexandria, VA) were on view in her first-ever solo show at the District of Columbia Arts Center. The exhibition, emerging from the curious: Common Place Anomalies, featured textured, sensual works designed to invite the viewer to explore bizarre ecological systems.

Louise Kohrman MFA 04 PT

2004 Dust Breeds Contempt, a solo show of work by Colby Bird MFA PH , was exhibited last fall at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, TX, where Colby lives. Artforum selected the show as a Critic’s Pick. In January Ben Blanc MFA FD ( presented The Exchange at Providence’s AS220 Project Space. The Providence-based artist explains that it was “an installation of 200 handmade objects” that became “a laboratory in which the line between art, design, retail and commerce is blurred when the worth of each object is challenged. Over the course of the show, the exhibition became less of a static installation and transformed into an evolving record of sale and commerce.” In the fall he launched a collection of Graphite Pendant Lamps at the Scion Installation gallery in Culver City, CA as part of the event A Product of Design.

Last fall Alissa MelkaTeichroew MID (Brooklyn; presented The Jointed Story and new Jointed Jewels during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and at the Qubique trade show in Berlin. Gerard Clay McLaurin MFA TX

(Atlanta, GA) recently exhibited a series of embroidered drawings in the show Embroidered Curiosities at the Textile Arts Center gallery in Brooklyn.

2005 Adrienne Benz MArch

(Providence), Laura Blosser MArch 10 (Albany, NY), Shadi Khadivi MArch (Albany, NY) and Anastasia Laurenzi MArch 09 (Providence) exhibited last fall in Building Bridges: Journey into Central America at CityArts in Providence. Last fall Melissa Borrell MFA JM (Austin, TX) presented a new body of jewelry inspired by computer technology and 3D design tools at Peel Gallery in Houston.

Please email class notes submissions to:

Working together as Ghost of a Dream, Adam Eckstrom MFA PT and Lauren Was MFA 04 SC (both Boxford, MA) are mounting a site-specific installation at the Hunterdon Museum in Clinton, NJ. so far, so close will be on view from June 10 to September 9. They’ve had a busy year, with an installation at the London Art Fair (January), their first solo gallery show in New York at Davidson Contemporary (February­–March), an exhibition at Colorado Springs [CO] Fine Art Center Museum (March–May 27) and a stint as artists in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NB.

Louise ( has already had three shows of her recent drawings and prints in 2012, including this one, Untitled (2011, hardground etching on kitakata paper with cutouts and sewing on pescia paper, 30 x 22"). She exhibited in a solo show at the University of the Arts’ Printmaking Gallery in Philadelphia; the group show Printmaking: Prominent Printmakers at the New Hampshire Institute of the Arts in Manchester, NH; and the Print/Counter-Print group exhibition at the Rose Contemporary Gallery in Portland, ME. Louise is based in Northampton, MA.

Last fall Amanda Lechner MFA PT (Brooklyn) was an artist in residence at Wassaic [NY] Project (see also page 16). Michelle Ludwig MID

(, a green building consultant, teaches at the University of Cape Town, School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics in South

spring/summer 2012


Breanne Trammell

MFA 08 PR Last fall Breanne (breanne used the gallery windows of Mixed Greens in Manhattan as a threedimensional display for her site-specific exhibition Cheetos in the Expanded Field. The artist lives in Brooklyn.

Soo Yeon Kim MFA JM

In February Stefanie Pender MFA GL (Providence) and Paul Myoda 89 PH (Chepachet, RI) exhibited together in Illuminations, a show at the Chazan Gallery at Wheeler School in Providence.

Jennifer Cawley MFA 11 PH Jennifer showed this politically motivated wallpaper series called For Congo (detail, pigment print wallpaper) in Surfacing, a winter exhibition at the Chazan Gallery in Providence. The show also featured work by fellow alumni Theodor Kropf MFA 03 SC, Gunnar Norquist MFA 06 SC and Kevin Hughes MFA 08 JM (see below).

2008 Kevin Hughes MFA 08 JM

( showed painted brass work in Surfacing, a winter exhibition at the Chazan Gallery in Providence, where he lives. His work was also included in a winter group show at the Metal Museum in Memphis, TN and in Materials: Hard & Soft at the Greater Denton [TX] Arts Council’s Center for Visual Arts.

Elizabeth Skadden

MFA 09 DM In March one of Elizabeth’s recent videos, Knife Factory Slumber Party, was screened as part of the Higher Atlas film and video show held in conjunction with the 2012 Marrakech Biennial in Morocco. Now in its fourth year, the biennale is the first major trilingual (English, Arabic and French) festival in North Africa focusing on cuttingedge contemporary art, literature and film. Elizabeth is based in Berlin, Germany.

Last fall photographer Annie Langan MFA PH (annielangan. com) had a solo show at the Kentucky School of Art in Louisville. She lives in Prospect, KY. Last winter Edible Glass and new work by Yuka Otani MFA GL ( were featured at the Urban Glass pop-up shop at the Museum of the City of New York. In January the Brooklyn-based artist launched a collaboration with the artisan confectioner Papabubble, displaying new pieces from her Sweet Vessels collection in the windows of the company’s Tokyo store.

Last fall Gabriela Salazar MFA PT ( exhibited new work in The Build Up, a show of four artists at Fowler Arts Collective in Brooklyn, where she lives. One of her installations was also included in Nests, Shells and Corners, a group exhibition shown at the Meramec Contemporary Gallery in St. Louis, MO and Backspace in Peoria, IL.


Work by Ted Gahl MFA PT (Litchfield, CT) was on view last fall in Ted Gahl: Night Painter, a solo show at Dodge Gallery in New York City. Fellow painter and alum Bo Joseph 92 PT (NYC) wrote the essay accompanying the exhibition. Stephanie Gunawan MArch

and David Getty MArch ( got married on September 24, 2011 at Wild Rice Restaurant in Bayfield, MN. David is a project architect at Salmela Architect in Duluth, MN.

Michael Mergen MFA 11 PH Harper’s magazine published a dozen images from Michael’s Vote series in its February 2012 issue, including such gems as Early Voting #8, Las Vegas, NV, 2010, Precinct 9, Shelby Township, MI, 2010 and Early Voting #16, Reno, NV. Michael worked as a photojournalist for many years before returning to school to focus on fine art photography and is now working as an assistant professor at Longville University in Farmville, VA.

Michael Radyk MFA TX

(Athens, GA) exhibited woven textiles in three exhibitions last fall: Fibremen in Kherson, Ukraine; a show at the Hoffman Gallery in Portland, OR; and a biennial faculty exhibition at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, were he teaches as head of the Fibers area.

2009 Last fall San Francisco-based artist Monica Martinez MFA SC ( had an exhibition called 3er Encuentro de Jóvenes Creadores at the Museo de Arte de Queretaro in Queretaro, Mexico (see also page 10).



Please email class notes submissions to:

( exhibited a new collection of jewelry at the 2011 Fiber Art Fair held last November at Seoul Art Center in Korea, where she lives. Martin Goebel MFA FD

(see pages 8-9) The Brothers Mueller (the

irrepressible twins Kirk and Nate, both MFA DM) continue

to charm clients and the media with both who they are and what they do. Fresh from picking up the Society of Publication Designers’ Tablet of the Year Award (for the Boundless Beauty iPad app commissioned by Martha Stewart) at the end of 2011, they created a scalable political site for the New Yorker (with fellow alums at Studio Mercury) and finalized a new iPad edition for Newsweek that debuted on January 23. Last fall Ryan Thomas Peters MFA JM (Brooklyn) had an online solo exhibition titled Erotic Theatre: Ornament and Identity sponsored by Space Jul in Korea.

Pete Oyler MFA 09 FD

Mariah Tuttle MFA JM

Twenty percent of the people to make Forbes’ 2012 list of 30 Under 30 artists and designers worth watching are RISD alumni, including Pete (, whose recycled Rip + Tatter Kid’s Chair is shown here. Fellow RISD grads Lauren Geremia 04 PT, Ryan Sullivan 05 PT and Theo Richardson 06 FD, Charles Brill 06 FD and Alex Williams 06 FD, the happy trio behind Rich Brilliant Willing, also earned the Forbes honor. Just this spring Pete launched a new design studio with Nora Mattingly called Assembly (in NYC and the Hudson Valley).

2011 Lee Patrick Johnson MFA CR

(see page 11) Slim (Seung Chan Lim) MFA GD (Providence, RI) is busy with a design research project entitled Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making ( and in late winter mounted a Kickstarter campaign to selfpublish a book on his research,

2012 which focuses on “what it means to make something, how it works as a process and why it matters to our lives.” Primarily interested in applying this research to computer hardware and software design, Slim told a Smart Planet ( interviewer that the goal of such design should be to dignify the user experience and increase “our capacity to empathize.”

Soul Sells

which sits along on the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico, has a total area of just 2.1 square miles. But within those borders lies a highly skilled, centuries-old community of artists best known for their tradition of handcrafted pottery — particularly red polychrome designs and the highly polished blackware commemorated in the Santa Clara Pueblo flag. Rose B. Simpson MFA 11 CR is both a child of that tradition and a passionate investigator of it. She grew up on the pueblo throwing pottery with her mother, clay artist Roxanne Swentzell, and watching her father, Patrick Simpson, create sculpture from wood and metal.

The Santa Clara Pueblo,

For more on Rose’s work, go to

(Providence) and Kendall Reiss MFA JM (Bristol, RI) curated and contributed work to Ear Candy, a holiday 2011 jewelry show at Alloy Gallery in Newport, RI. Tamar Kern MFA 01 JM owns and operates the gallery.

Empathicalism, the fourth solo show of work by Michelle Rawlings MFA PT, was on view earlier this year at the Oliver Francis Gallery in Dallas, the city where her father, Mike Rawlings, also happens to be mayor. The show examined the role of cultural institutions in shaping the adolescent experience.

Rose B. Simpson MFA 11 CR Approaching her work through both indigenous and European lenses, Simpson is creating multimedia compositions that embrace, expand and wrestle with traditional notions of Native American art, the Indian art market and its audience. From August 10 through September 8, her work — which spans the gamut from ceramic sculpture, drawing and printmaking to writing, music and dance —  will be featured in Thesis, her second solo show at Chiaroscuro in Santa Fe. The show features large-scale installations of ceramic and steel, such as Intellectual Conversation, in which two contorted figures crouch opposite each other on a wood floor, their heads chained to the wall. But it also incorporates incredibly delicate compositions, as in her new Transparency series, which depicts ghostly outlined human figures on 1-inch-thin inlaid ceramic, beneath an even thinner layer of tissue paper. “My expression is a boil-over of soul,” Simpson says of her art. “By processing what is very personal, I am continually refining —  hoping to instigate healing by revealing a truth.” Seeking to escape the heavy influence of Pueblo tradition and find her “true” artistic self, Simpson was somewhat surprised that when she came to RISD to “start fresh,” she experienced the gravitational pull of clay as a material and of Pueblo identity as her artistic terrain.

“When I came to RISD I thought, ‘OK, release all identities and start from a space of complete blankness and see what comes out — what is truly Rose, without relationship to culture or place.’ But, you know — I’m from New Mexico! I’m from this incredibly strong culture, and it comes through in everything I do.” Now that she’s working as a studio artist, Simpson is pleased to have the opportunity to keep showing and sharing her work. She’s represented by Chiaroscuro, where prices for her eclectic pieces range from $450 to $15,000.

spring/summer 2012


sketches, doodles, ideas in progress


Rich Pellegrino 06 IL



When I attended several career-building lectures at RISD (Networking 101, Marketing 101, etc.), I was eager to learn how and where to find new opportunities, but also couldn’t resist my inner need to doodle.

I made this portrait of my grandmother on one of my weekly visits to see her. At the time I was using my sketchbook as a means of experimenting with how line alone and combined with paint could work in unison. This portrait actually opened up a clearer path towards what I am looking for in my work.

For more on Rich’s work, go to

Please submit some pages from your own sketchbook (showing anything that’s on your mind). Our favorites will appear in the next issue. Questions? Email

Spring/summer 2012


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RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2012  

Rhode Island School of Design alumni magazine

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