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starting UP

22 seriously surreal start

28 virtual + grounded SPRING / SUMMER 2015

38 pure resourcefulness 42 new president starts fresh rhode island school of design alumni magazine





Conversations online, incoming, ongoing

Six Degrees alumni network news




Seriously Surreal Start

Virtual + Grounded

Can competing on a reality TV show actually help jumpstart a design practice? Katie Stout 12 FD thinks it just might.

The alumni who started Tellart 15 years are still as excited as ever about where they’re headed.



Pure Resourcefulness

New President Starts Fresh

Bright ideas combined with good connections help artists like Emilie Lee 04 IL find the funding to start new projects.

Four decades after first coming to RISD, Rosanne Somerson 76 ID is the first female alum to lead the college.

Listen reflections, opinions, points of view

10 Look first forays starting out strong startup success breaking new ground unstoppable

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62 Impact who’s giving to risd and why

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Where We Are class notes and profiles

48 Two College Street campus community newsbits

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› 49


› 90

Sketchbook sketches, thoughts, ideas in progress

thoughts from the editor

above: Arrow Rug by Katie Stout 12 FD

Getting Started I F I T WEREN’ T FO R MY DOG, Pi, I would probably never give in, put on my sneakers and start out on another run. Yes, my father ran marathons, my mother competed in many a Senior Olympics and there’s still enough sisu in most second-generation Finns that we’re prone to semimasochistic behavior like running, cross-country skiing and beating ourselves with branches while sweating our brains clear in a 220° sauna. But think about it: If you run or work out or just have trouble getting out of bed, chances are your brain plays games with you about getting started. “I’m too tired.” “It’s too hot.” “That sore throat could mean I’m getting sick.” “I don’t have time.” Every time my brain presents excuses before running, I eventually give in to the brighteyed border collie staring me down, nosing his leash, practically opening the latch on the front door so that we can get going already. A lot of us—especially as we age—seem to avoid starting anything new or untried or potentially difficult. Whether it’s a tough conversation, a new relationship, a project, a different line of inquiry—a life—starting requires an act of will and a willingness to act. Often, it’s a matter of resolving to “reignite the little spark,” as Carrie Bloomston 94 PT writes in this issue’s LISTEN essay (page 4). On the other hand, if you’re like a lot of artists, designers and generally expansive thinkers, starting may feel like a natural part of the creative process, something that happens almost against your will. You have a creative itch or surge of curiosity that’s so overwhelming you just have to give in and make that thing you’ve got in your head. So you start the process.

Responses to this issue welcomed at

This issue of XYZ is full of stories, anecdotes and examples of alumni starting up, starting out, starting over and starting fresh—like spring itself. The LOOK section (10–19) focuses on recent graduates just starting practices, alumni starting arts communities around the country, startup businesses now reaching their stride, new starts afforded by financial recognition—and several other variations on the theme. In the features section, you’ll find examples of alumni starting something from nothing but a good idea and a willingness to take risks. The lead story on Tellart (28–37) focuses on an interesting startup that’s going strong 15 years after Matt Cottam BID 00 and Nick Scappaticci 00 ID first resolved to build a business around a field that didn’t yet exist. Though they founded it when they were very young, they not only beat the odds against failure, but are enjoying the work now more than ever and employ 25 people—half of them fellow alumni—in three cities. Elsewhere in this issue Greg Kanaan 02 FAV, a filmmaker-turned-lawyer, writes about restarting his career (58); Shepard Fairey 92 IL offers some good advice about starting out (62–63); Elaine Longtemps 63 IL explains her false starts with finding the right materials (66); Victo Ngai 10 IL shares her insights about getting started as a freelancer (85); and illustrator Jennifer Orkin-Lewis 81 TX shows examples of a self-imposed challenge she began recently as a way to keep loose and experiment with new techniques (96–97). In the end, while you may need a nudge from an eager border collie—or a friend, mentor, collaborator, rival, family member—the best part about starting is discovering where it takes you.

editor’s message by

Liisa Silander

cover » Katie Stout 12 FD describes her work as “naïve pop,” which is her abbreviated way of saying “thoughtful-and-smartwithout-taking-itself-too-seriously.” Whether she’s making a braided rug like the one on the cover (called Gong), collaborating on pinched clay lamps with Sean Gerstley 11 CR or designing playful 3D rugs you can sit on and lean against, she thinks of her pieces sort of like subtly subversive people, with personalities and moods (Sad Chair) and a desire to be a valued part of our everyday lives.


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

Elizabeth Eddins 00 GD F E AT U R E S D E S I G N E R

Sarah Rainwater

Now that Katie has won Ellen’s Design Challenge (see pages 22–27), she has moved beyond her moment in the spotlight on national TV and is focused on building her budding Brooklyn-based practice. A spate of new projects this spring included a show at Gallery Diet in Miami, and she’s now creating new work for an upcoming show at Johnson Trading Gallery in NYC.


Greg Kanaan 02 FAV Francie Latour Simone Solondz CLASS NOTES

Anna Cousins 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# Opus Satin (R) FSC text and 80# Sterling Dull (R) FSC cover 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. A D D R E S S U P DAT E S

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

Listen (8) » Carrie Bloomston 94 PT spent the decade after RISD “pursuing a life of art-school-girl recovery.” But since then she has run a mural painting business and expanded into other realms. “We live in a little house in the desert”— in Phoenix, AZ—she says, adding that she began sewing again when she was pregnant with her second child. Now she designs sewing patterns through her company, SUCH Design, along with surface patterns for Windham Fabrics, and last fall published her first book.



feature story (38) »

Sketchbook (96) »

Emilie Lee 04 IL works as a principal artist and instructor at the Grand Central Atelier in New York City. A landscape painter and writer, she often collaborates with creative partners in the conservation and outdoor adventure fields. She also taps into resources available through the RISD Career Center when looking for grant and residency opportunities.

Working out of her studio in a lovely little village outside of NYC, Jennifer Orkin-Lewis 81 TX is happy as a clam now that she’s able to draw and paint every day—for both fun and profit. The busy freelance illustrator is also part of Cloverly, a new art collective that showed at Surtex in mid May. In between Jennifer manages to maintain a formidable online presence through August Wren (, her business site and blog, with posts on Instagram and Facebook. Oh, and then there’s her Etsy store and daily sketchbook project….

top left: photo by Clemens Kois

Or email

online, incoming, ongoing

Body Warmth Great issue of XYZ!! Like the theme and diverse coverage. Keep up the great work. Stuart Karten 78 ID Marina del Rey, CA

Pretty much read thru the new issue of XYZ and it is wonderful—a little of everything. From Rosanne’s review of her career to the amazing photos of Arno and article, snippets about lots of friends and the scattershot criticism from some alumni that reveal too much about themselves, including the sciencedenial fellow from Vermont who bet you you wouldn’t print his crit… XYZ has better art and is more interesting than so-called art magazines. Nat Hesse 76 SC Santa Fe, NM

Hooked and Arguing

As I read John Lukens’ letter [page 5, Fall/Winter 2014/15 issue], its dismissive tone was more evident than his reasoning. I would have appreciated Mr. Lukens stating his scientific or personal qualifications— to give his comments credibility. His diatribe does not change my opinion of what I have seen along the New England coastline, which I have photographed since 2003. In one instance alone I have seen the coast in Matunuck, RI migrate inland by 100 feet since 2006. Sea-level rise is real, as is climate change. There is little argument in the scientific community that global warming is primarily anthropogenic—that burning carbon-based fuels is warming the atmosphere. In the process of developing The ocean is storing that warmth and expanding as this recent sculptural work, Gail it warms. Climate change and sea-level rise are serious Whitsitt-Lynch 71 PH (whitsittenough for the US Department of Defense to consider brought it to a new them as a potential threat to our safety. forum for feedback: Facebook. In glibly dismissing climate change as fatuous, “I put this piece up to see if my Mr. Lukens shows the sort of delusional thinking combinations (of plant and that will handicap our efforts to adapt to the obvious animal forms) were working,” changes we need to make in the way we live. she explains. “I purposely used Kathie Florsheim MFA 74 PH Facebook because many people Providence, RI who do not see themselves as ‘in the arts community’ would have a chance to respond.” The Rhode Island-based artist reports that the resulting conversation was invigorating. “For some people the lack of a nameable ‘thing’ was quite jarring,” Gail explains. “As to the art-making crowd, they were of course more comfortable without a subject, but wanted me to tell them what I wanted them to feel. Fabulous: people hooked and arguing. I love it.”

RISD Apparel Design studio, spring 2015

Send thoughts, sketches, updates to



Seen Between at RISD One of the joys of being at RISD is the serendipitous stuff that surfaces in unlikely places. These sweet surprises prompt smiles among students, faculty and staff, and help buoy our collective spirits.

As far back as I can remember, I have been an artist. At a very young age I was drawing all kinds of stuff from my imagination and then sketching anything that my friends asked me to draw for them. I gradually realized that not everyone was an artist like me. In my junior year in high school, I had an awakening when Leo Irrera 53 SC, a new art teacher, appeared on the scene. Up to that point I was becoming a pretty slick poster artist and could conjure “Fire Prevention” posters in a breeze and win prizes for them. When I entered Leo’s art class, things changed dramatically. He placed a large sheet of watercolor paper on the table and began dabbing watercolor paints on it with very irregular and free movements. Then he handed me the brush and encouraged me to do the same. Ahaaa! A dormant part of my brain opened. Since he was a RISD graduate, Leo encouraged

me to apply to RISD, so I did... and soon I received a letter from RISD that I was accepted! Yahoo, another life-changing event: being at RISD. My freshman year is fodder for another chapter in my life story. All I can say is that it took about six months to get the poster-child out of me, and another six months to open me up to greater possibilities and potentials, with a lot of all-nighters for 2D and 3D design, tearful times of having my drawings torn off of the wall by then-president and drawing Professor John Frazier 1912 PT, and then jubilation when teacher John Hamilton actually liked an ink drawing I did (of cows pooping in a pasture). For my senior year I had the opportunity to go to Italy as part of the second class of European Honors Program students. Our leader was my painting professor Gordon Peers 33 PT and seeing Italy through his eyes with his preferences and guidance was an outstanding experience. We traveled as a group—all 17 of us—and he would take us to a tiny town like Moravia just to see a mural by Montagna. Barbara Kahn 62 PT (see page 65) Little Switzerland, NC



Read more about RISD-related ventures at

“My freshman year is fodder for another chapter in my life story. All I can say is that it took about six months to get the poster-child out of me, and another six months to open to greater possibilities.”

above: photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH

Hello RISD Friends


Celebrating Snowpocalypse


Embrace looking outrageous. Many successful ideas begin by looking strange. Airbnb cofounder and RISD Trustee

Joe Gebbia 05 ID/GD (see also page 17)

Ignore old-fashioned rules. Don’t even learn them. Carve your own way. designer and RISD honorary degree recipient Todd Oldham speaking to Textiles students (see also page 53)

We built a hundred ways it didn’t work right to get one that did. Joe Wilcox 06 ID referencing the 8-year process of developing his tilting scooter Sway, which just got backed by Mark Cuban on Shark Tank (5.15.15)

It’s important for artists to be selfish with their time…. Defend your practice.

In late January The Boston Globe invited two Massachusetts-based alumni to share their artwork and thoughts on the incessant storms that dropped a record-breaking total of 108.6" of the white stuff on Boston before winter was over. “I’m inspired by snowstorms,” notes photographer Mary Kocol MFA 87 PH, who lives in Somerville. “That doesn’t mean I enjoy shoveling, traffic jams and cold, but I do find snowstorms visually stunning. The transformation of the urban landscape is amazing: backyard boundaries erased, colors and light falling onto snow from dawn to dusk. The wildness of the weather is another thing I try to capture.”

“When that big storm hit us in late January, I decided that I was going to spend the day ‘live-drawing’ the storm,” wrote Franklin Einspruch 90 IL from his home in Boston. “This was partly a goof on all the live-tweeting and live reporting about it, partly an excuse to spend the day drawing and partly an artistic challenge. The self-imposed rules were that I could only use black and white gouache, applied with brushes without any preliminary pencil drawing. Since the brightest white is that of the unpainted paper, I realized that I was really drawing everything except the snow, but that only forced me to look at the snow even harder…. I continued as the next storms came and went. Now I have two dozen drawings and counting, and the effect of the snow on the city is still grabbing my attention.”

Melissa Armstrong 07 ID, speaking to students at RISD’s Fine Arts Portfolio Review (4.13.15)

Turn off your phone. The more outside interests you cultivate, the better your work will be. Michael Freimuth 92 GD, advice to young designers just starting out (GD USA, 1.15 issue)

Find more RISD conversations at and





When we started, we had a drill press and a certain tonguein-cheek flavor and attitude. Charles Brill 06 ID in a New York Times piece (5.20.15) on Rich, Brilliant, Willing, the design firm he runs with

Theo Richardson 06 FD and Alex Williams 06 FD

Have a goal…. Push yourself. Don’t just aim to “be famous.” Ashley Axios 08 GD, advice to young designers just starting out (GD USA, 1.15 issue)

Be nice…. No one wants to hire assholes or egomaniacs, no matter how talented you are. Jessica Walsh 08 GD of Sagmeister & Walsh in advice to new grads (Fast Company, 5.21.15)

For three weeks, we did nothing but fabricate sets and puppets. We even took turns sleeping in four-hour shifts. new grads Emily Neilson 15 FAV + Katy Strutz 15 IL talking about producing their award-winning stop motion animated film Alive (see also page 52)

I start the day after graduation and the workload will be pretty demanding. Robin Hilkey 15 GD speaking about her new job at (RED), the humanitarian aid organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver 06


Mixed Feelings I wrote three or four drafts of this letter after reading about the passing of three instructors: Merkin, Pontbriand and Immonen. But I never sent them. I just kept rewriting, adding and refiling. I have very mixed feelings about my time at RISD that are rekindled when I see how very little my class seems to have accomplished over the 48 years since we graduated. The class notes section carries notices from the same two or three individuals. What has everyone else been doing? I’m as much to blame as anyone else. I don’t live in some far-off forest or desert, or head my own design studio, nor did I just have my 10th one-man show. I still work, though not as an artist. I live in a densely populated suburb of Washington, DC, south of the Pentagon. I heard and felt the thump as the plane hit the building on September 11, 2001. I saw the huge column of oily black smoke roiling up into the clear, blue late-summer sky. A longtime Navy friend and his lovely wife had just been murdered in that horrific crash. They had gone through two early tours in Vietnam, he flying from a carrier in the F-8 Crusader. Now they were gone in an instant. How often had I walked many of those obliterated corridors— sometimes in uniform? My easel stands dusty and unused in my workspace, which is crammed with boxes and file cabinets full of photos and clippings. The old tubes of paint are hard; I should throw them out. Over the years, I have collected many prints by artists; and they all tell me I could never compete with them. In the years since I graduated, I discovered I was a much better writer than an artist. Richard Merkin MFA 64 PT loved to tell me how bad I was, his manner brusque and defeatist and poorly administered. During my 1965 sophomore review session, Jack Massey drew

a few delightful drawings of oldtime airplanes on a pad and before he gave it to me—I still have it— he wrote, “Don’t draw airplanes!” We both laughed. He was a good teacher. Merkin was not. The outpouring of letters when Professor Immonen died [see Spring/ Summer 2012 issue] surprised me. He struggled so in 1963, our Foundation year and his first year at RISD. Does anyone else remember the day the thumbtacks attacked him? One gray afternoon, Mr. Immonen was talking to us, walking around the classroom. He was not a very exciting speaker—quiet and thoughtful—and at the end of the day, we were not very attentive. One student was idly playing with a bunch of thumbtacks on a metal stool but then left them. Our instructor hadn’t noticed, so when he moved to sit on the stool, we all gasped. He jumped up, obviously in some pain. The student was near to tears, but after ridding himself of these little tortures, Immonen cleared his throat and said simply, “We must move forward.” We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Frankly, I didn’t think he would stay another year, but he obviously found his voice and teaching style over the long run. Roger Pontbriand was always in the shadow of Harve Stein, then the patrician head of Illustration. Mr. Stein’s main medium was watercolor—very difficult—but he was a master. There are other names, but these are the men I remember. As for me, I write. After leaving active duty with the Navy, I worked as an artist in Washington—a “visual information specialist,” in the government vernacular— for 13 years. Then I went down to Norfolk to work at the Naval Safety Center as the first civilian editor of Approach, the Naval Aviation safety magazine. I occasionally contributed drawings and cartoons (editor’s prerogative) before retiring in 2000. I have had a book review column since 1982 in one of the Navy’s oldest periodicals, and my write-ups and feature articles also appear in other related publications. Sometimes I even get paid. My 15th and 16th books have just been published. Working two books simultaneously is hard. Never again. Now, I think I will take a break, maybe stop, go back to my roots on the Cape and Boston… Come on, members of the class of 1967. Let’s hear from you! Peter B. Mersky 67 IL Alexandria, VA

Department of Corrections A case of mistaken identity: in the last issue, we credited Per Ole Hoel 74 ID with a music video that he definitely did not create. As the Per Hoel who actually went to RISD wisely notes: “The wealth of information available at our fingertips via the internet is an amazing resource; however, care must be exercised in evaluating what is found.” Dan Gosch 70 PT most definitely completed his degree, so the asterisk next to his name in last issue’s class notes section, Where We Are, appeared as if by magic.* *Sorry about that, Dan.

In a death notice printed in the Spring/ Summer 2014 issue, Maia Flanagan Mongie 65 PH was incorrectly listed as Maia Flanagan Varela. Our sincere apologies for the error.

SUMMER 2015 PROGRAMS Summer Studies art + design courses Summer Institute for Graphic Design Studies Textiles Summer Institute


Educators’ Summer Studio Institute Global Summer Programs Pre-College Program Continuing Education courses for adults, teens + children RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN DIVISION OF CONTINUING EDUCATION

Xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx:

reflections, opinions, points of view

“Go be a beginner at something and feel the absolute freedom of sucking at it.”

Finding it Hard to Start?

This piece stems from Carrie’s book The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity (Stash Books, 2014). Samples of her fabric designs are shown here.

T H E SPARK OF CRE AT I V I T Y I S A B EG I N N I N G , a seed, a whisper. It is an unanswered question—a nudge from your unconscious. It’s a bit magical. It has a strange hold over you. It calls you with its siren song—yet you find a million ways to ignore it. Life generally tampers with creativity because being an adult requires a great deal of organization and management. Though I’m a lifelong artist, abstract painter and designer—and I gained a lot of confidence at RISD—I still sometimes struggle with our culture’s weird value system and the mythology or misunderstanding about what it means to live a creative life, which goes something like this: We love art. We need art. We love creative people, but we don’t like to pay too much for what they create.


For more on Carrie’s work and process, go to


by Carrie Bloomston 94 PT

That mentality urges us to behave “rationally and responsibly”—to be “normal” and “acceptable” and just sort of “blend in.” In other words, being a “responsible adult” often comes at the expense of the messier and certainly harder-to-define urges of the human heart. One of those urges is the desire to create something—not for any specific reason, not for financial gain, not for ego gratification, but just because it feels good. For most RISD alumni, our creativity is like a pilot light—it’s always on, even if you aren’t using the stove. And like the pilot light, it’s fairly difficult to extinguish. It sits there at the center of who you are, and it waits. It may need to wait for a few months or a few years, especially if you’re not able to figure out how to make a living from your own creative practice.



Beginning is the hardest part for many creative people. I tend to procrastinate before starting any new project. I put a whole bunch of things in my way before I start: to-do lists, errands, cleaning—it’s as if I am trying to delay or defer my pleasure.

The main thing I hear that keeps most adults from tapping into their creative core is this: “But I didn’t go to school for that.” This lack of training can make people feel paralyzed. While an education isn’t the only route to exploring a new creative discipline, studying something definitely has its perks. You get an amazing energy and buzz from taking a class. You learn about technique, craft and process—the bones of a working practice. You get tips from others in the field about integrating that practice into your life. You develop a vocabulary and learn how to see and discuss what you make through the crit process.

“Beginning is the hardest part for many creative people.” The fact is that starting is scary. It brings up fears for all of us—beginners and advanced artists alike— because we are stepping into the unknown. But as most practicing artists know, there are a lot of ways to blast through the fear of starting. It may help to have little tiny goals—achievable, quick steps you can take every day until you’re less intimidated by starting. You can almost avoid the big moment of starting entirely if you keep your work out and step into it a little bit every day; then it’s more like doing a puzzle that’s sitting on the dining table—you just do a bit here and there. That way you aren’t starting but rather continuing a conversation you’ve already begun. If you don’t have a dedicated space to work and you’re always having to move everyone else’s stuff out of the way before you start, that’s a real obstacle. A good workspace is a launch pad, refuge, retreat, temple, labyrinth and safety net. When I work, a tornado quickly brews in my studio— papers, fabrics and trash go flying in all directions. By the time I’m done, my 300-sf studio is unrecognizable. The surfaces and floor are covered in detritus and remnants. Because I know this about myself, I want my materials behind closed cabinet doors so the room feels calm. I know I’m going to make a mess as I work, and it would feel too chaotic for me if my materials were showing. This is a personal preference. I have friends who like to see their materials so they can be inspired by them. But no matter what you’re making, don’t be stingy with your materials. As most of you know, if you’re afraid of wasting paper, paint, clay, fabric, flour or whatever, you’ll limit your exploration, especially if you’re starting to work in a new medium or discipline. Materials are your fishing pole and if you’re stingy with them, you have less access to the ephemeral, magical stuff you’re after. And just as with fishing, you can’t get too hung up about whether or not you catch the big one every time. After all, most of us aren’t after the biggest, best fish; we’re just there to fish. It truly is about the process and the journey, which takes time. Some days your hands may not cooperate with your brain but it’s often on those days that the most growth happens.

But while formal training instills a sense of confidence that comes from gaining fluency, it’s important to remember that when you start something new, you shouldn’t expect to be good at it. You just need to have an open heart and be gentle with yourself as you learn. In fact, as most artists understand all too well, we could all stand to be more like kids—playing, running around in the backyard of our souls until the sun sets. We need to drop our preconceptions and be open to the Zen Buddhist concept of shoshin, or “beginner’s mind,” when starting something new—or even when studying at an advanced level. I’m addicted to shoshin, which is why I studied in almost every department at RISD when I was there—glassblowing, painting, bronze casting, woodworking and ceramics. For the past 20 years, I’ve still chased the freedom of being a beginner and feeling free to fail—to make a mess and not be the expert. I had my

“I’m addicted to shoshin, which is why I studied in almost every department at RISD.” mid-life crisis as an artist a decade ago. Five years ago, I started sewing and designing textiles. Guess which departments I didn’t study in at RISD?! Yep, Graphic Design and Textiles—and yet today I run a business focused on those exact two things. We all feel boredom and ennui at certain points and want to keep things fresh. So, go be a beginner at something and feel the absolute freedom of sucking at it. Chances are you’ll come back to your practice more alive and more awake. SPRING/SUMMER 2015


first forays RaMell Ross MFA 14 PH

Postmodern South Just weeks after graduation, RaMell Ross MFA 14 PH landed a $35,000 Production Grant from the Sundance Institute to turn Hale County, his short narrative on two African-American men living in rural Alabama, into a full-length feature film. “As a director, winning this award is the highest form of validation,” he says. “It’s refreshing to be acknowledged for doing what feels natural instead of following an artistic checklist.”

This year Ross has been in production on the film, while also working on other projects as a Sundance Institute New Frontier artist in residence at MIT’s Media Lab. “I’m for an art that tries to erase the horizon,” Ross wrote on The New York Times blog Lens (1.28.15). “I daydream about a postmodern South—of melanin liberation and a less profit-centered humanity.”

Starting a Very Good Thing Born last year in Brooklyn, Good Thing stems from a shared desire by co-founders Sam Anderson 14 FD and Jamie Wolfond 13 FD to build on the design chops

Samantha Anderson 14 FD Jamie Wolfond 13 FD

and collaborative spirit they picked up at RISD to produce “household objects that are innovative, functional and expressive.” The studio has already released a growing collection of products—from mirrors to trivets, trays and a new hanger—with a network of wholesale retailers growing almost as quickly.



Lily Harris 12 AP

Prashast Thapan 14 GD

Uniform Comfort Spare and timeless, the clothing Lily Harris 12 AP designs and sews to order in her Minneapolis studio is inspired by what she likes to wear herself. From her “updated classic” Lily Tee to her black chiffon or olive green organza Slip Dress to her Stripe Wing Crop Top, all items in the Lily Stan collection are “easy to wear and layer with one another as a uniform.” In other words, Harris hopes her designs “become an everyday staple, remaining in your closet season after season.” Those staples are catching on via shops in Austin, TX, Portland, OR and Melbourne, Australia, among others.

Fabulous Failures Prashast Thapan 14 GD is working to show Static Lagoon, the video game he developed for his senior thesis project, at galleries and other exhibition spaces. Powered by Restbox, “the world’s first cushioned game

Esme Shapiro 14 IL

controller” (yes!), the catchy but cushy game requires players to stand up at exactly the right place and time to avoid getting stuck in an endless loop of scenarios where it’s very easy to miss fleeting “windows of opportunity.” Ultimately, Thapan explains, Static Lagoon focuses on the very RISD idea of “failure as an opportunity to learn.”

Accumulating Accolades Few things help a fledgling freelance business more than attracting the attention of leaders in the field. But cold cash doesn’t hurt either. For illustrator, muralist and maker Esme Shapiro 14 IL—another new grad to land in Brooklyn—it was a big boost when her work was selected for inclusion in both the 2015 Society of Illustrators West show in Los Angeles and the SOI’s New York equivalent this spring. Better still, her illustration The Bath House won a Gold in LA and the Nancy Lee Rhodes Roberts Scholarship Award in NYC, bolstering her bank account by $3,500 in helpful “startup” funding.



starting out strong

NOT Again! Building on her “first project as a mobile studio,” designer Jenny Lai 10 AP (above) was excited to return to South Africa this spring. She was there for the opening and other activities surrounding NOT x Chris Saunders, an extraordinary exhibition featuring fashion created through her NYC-based studio NOT, shot through the eyes of South African photographer Chris Saunders. Over the last year, Lai worked closely with architect and exhibition designer Camila Morales on realizing the project “as an exhibition experience… first in a white wall gallery-type space in NYC and then in Johannesburg.” The show continues through June 28 at the Museum of African Design, a former factory that offers an ideal backdrop for the project, retaining, as it does, much of the “rawness and grittiness” of the original space.

Jenny Lai 10 AP

YouTube in 2008, the indomitable Karen Kavett 11 GD got a job at the video mega-channel right after graduation—but left after a year because she “wasn’t happy working at such a large company.” These days the LA-based “YouTuber, graphic designer and crafter” (who also happily describes herself as “a huge nerd”) contributes weekly DIY videos to the HGTV Handmade channel, freelances as a graphic designer, keeps up a perpetual presence on Twitter and Instagram, and markets her own designs through her DFTBA site.

Karen Kavett 11 GD



Personal Brand After gaining an immediate following when she started to post to

Freedom of Choice Best known for coining the term “normcore” in its fourth trend report, Youth Mode (subtitled A Report on Freedom), K-Hole analyzes and comments on contemporary culture to point out truths and trends. In keeping its collective fingers on the pulse of how we live and what we want, the NYC-based consultancy run by Greg Fong 09 SC, Sean Monahan 09 PT, Chris Sherron 09 GD, Emily Segal and Dena Yago is now taking a closer look at the impact of information overload. Earlier this year K-Hole created commissioned artwork for the Surround Audience triennial Ryan Trecartin 94 FAV co-curated at the New Museum in NYC.

Greg Fong 09 SC

Sean Monahan 09 PT

Chris Sherron 09 GD

Mike Eckhaus 10 SC

Zoe Latta 10 TX

New Language With each new collection that hits the runway, Eckhaus Latta has become a growing favorite in the fashion press—despite ongoing perplexity re: the designers’ aesthetic, humor and weird inventiveness. When Mike Eckhaus 10 SC and Zoe Latta 10 TX met at RISD, it wasn’t in an Apparel Design studio. “We both knew we were really interested in fashion,” Latta told Vice, “but didn’t know we were going to start our own line. We knew we’d have our own practices, but didn’t know how that would manifest.” They’re still figuring it out, but already Eckhaus Latta is speaking in a new language that leaves people “tongue-tied and rubbernecking in the best way,” as their friend and sometimes collaborator Alex Da Corte puts it.



{changessuccess startup each issue}

Homemade + Harmonious Johann Pauwen 01 ID and Michaele Simmering started Kalon Studios at square one: with the birth of their first child in 2007. After shopping around for a crib, the Los Angelesbased designers say they had no choice but to make one themselves. Since then they’ve gone on to build a collection of heirloom-quality pieces that have hit a chord with other young parents in the US, Asia and Europe, and earned Kalon top honors in the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made design competition (for Furniture & Home Accessories).

Johann Pauwen 01 ID

Bethany Kobe

Humble Masterpiece

00 GD

own. Bethany Kobe 00 GD, a mom, CEO and cofounder

Bored with your electronic devices? Try building your of one of the UK’s most exciting startups, makes it easy with the DIY Gamer Kit, which enables just about anyone to build a handheld game console from scratch and then invent and code games for it, gaining handy skills along the way. MoMA recently recognized the brilliance of her company, Technology Will Save Us, adding its gamer kit to its permanent collection of Humble Masterpieces.



Geoffrey Warner 77 PH

Wood Doctor Five years ago Geoffrey Warner 77 PH channeled his RISD hero Tage Frid in designing a sustainable, ergonomically therapeutic hardwood stool that can be used for hours—without feeling it in the “sit bones.” The Owl Stool and the next-generation Pro Owl— made to meet the needs of healthcare professionals— now form the backbone of Owl Furniture®, an offshoot of Warner’s primary design/build studio in Stonington, ME. “I love seeing how the Owl has provided such comfort and relief for so many,” says the self-described “wood doctor.”

Marcia Patmos 91 AP

Woolly World Champ After winning the US Woolmark Prize for womenswear last summer, Marcia Patmos 91 AP rose to the top again, collecting the 2015 International Woolmark Prize in Beijing. Judges from Vogue Italia and Vogue China (along with fashionista Victoria Beckham) love the “socially conscious and eco-friendly” production techniques M.PATMOS uses for its line of “easy, modern, understated, beautifully crafted clothing.” The New York-based designer just started her own new venture in 2011, but it seems to suit her: She beat out 59 competitors for the top Woolmark prize of $100K, with international distribution added as the cherry on top.



breaking new ground

Way Off the Grid Escapism? Hermitage? Pure bliss? For the past five years Steve Silber MFA 09 SC has been running Chulitna Lodge Wilderness Retreat and residency program in Alaska, 200 miles off-grid with fly-in access only. He has built and restored 18 structures on the property using timbers cut on site, including a full woodshop and printmaking, photography and digital media facilities. Silber also makes burnt drawings on wood panels and small buildings for others—a wood-fired sauna for the Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, GA, and a tree house for Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI. This spring he has been working on a two-story, 400-sf teepee on his property in Alaska. Chulitna reserves one of its annual summer fellowships for RISD alumni, with Esteban Del Valle 09 PT this year’s lucky duck.

Steve Silber MFA 09 SC

Caity Kennedy 06 PT

Meowing at the Moon Picture a “massive, immersive installation—a multilevel, labyrinthine world of caves and tree houses, murals and forests,” says Caity Kennedy 06 PT. She and Sean Dilanni 07 SC, two of the six owner/ managers of Meow Wolf art collective in Santa Fe, are busting their butts to transform an old bowling alley into the Meow Wolf Art Complex, 33,000 sf of fanciful space featuring the House of Eternal Return as its main attraction. Slated to open this fall, it will also offer studios, a learning center, galleries, a maker space, a music and theater venue, an arcade and a movie theater—all thanks in part to support from Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.



Sharing the World This spring Airbnb—founded by Joe Gebbia

05 GD/ID, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky 04 ID—signed an agreement to be “the official alternative accommodation services supplier” for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. It also jumped on the opportunity to be one of the first US businesses to add Cuba to its online service after travel restrictions were lifted in January. In May President Obama welcomed Chesky to the White House as one of nine new members of his Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship team. And back in December, when Inc. magazine named Airbnb its 2014 Company of the Year, it essentially came down to this: “Seven years ago, they were guys with a website, three air mattresses and ambitions that to many people sounded silly, naive and reckless. Since then they have revolutionized the way people think about travel, displaced the hospitality industry’s established players and generated billions in revenue for themselves and their hosts.”

Joe Gebbia

Brian Chesky

05 GD/ID

04 ID

Brian Gibson

Brian Chippendale

98 IL

97 PR*

Lightning Strikes Again In the two decades since the Brians started playing together, Lightning Bolt has revolutionized the art of live performance. By leaving the stage to play on club floors they’ve inspired plenty of other bands to go for direct contact. With the release of Fantasy Empire this spring—their sixth album and first in five years—the duo again broke the rules, using the

above right: photo by Danielle Levitt / AUGUST

hi-fi recording equipment at Machines With Magnets to amplify their sounds and embracing other new ways to capture the strange allure of their live performances. After wrapping up an intense month-long tour in May, both Brian Chippendale 97 PR* and Brian Gibson 98 ILfeel like what Chippendale told Rolling Stone earlier this year: “I wish I could be 20 years old forever.”




Design DNA “I just fell into this,” says Ruth Adler Schnee 45 IA, speaking 70 years after she graduated from RISD. As the first female to earn a master’s degree in architecture from Cranbrook, she discovered that in the late 1940s the field wasn’t quite ready for women. So, with her phenomenal feel for color and design, Schnee “fell into” designing textiles—and her ebullient modernist designs are as much in demand today as they were then. This year the Michigan-based designer earned a $50,000 Kresge Eminent Artist award for lifetime achievement and recently signed another 20-year-contract with Knoll. “I asked them: ‘Do you know how old I am?’” Tickled as she is by the renewed attention, the 91-year-old designer says that all she really wants is to be in her studio “working on new designs.”

Ruth Adler Schnee 45 IA

Lorelei Pepi 87 IL

Beyond Happy + Gay When animation artist Lorelei Pepi 87 IL stopped teaching at RISD lead to so many good things—like winning a 2015 Creative Capital Award. As one of 46 artists selected from a pool of more than 3,700, she has earned the funding to create an interactive installation called Vigil, which uses facial tracking technology to prompt viewers to engage with an animated representation of another person. Pepi is also pleased to have won Best Short Film at the 2015 LGBT Cinema Festival in Montreal for her “queer cartoon musical misadventure” Happy & Gay.



Ruth Adler Schnee portrait by Elly Stewart

last spring, she didn’t realize her new start in Vancouver, BC would

Sharp Eye In March the Royal Academy of Art in Den Haag, the Netherlands, presented Cyrus Highsmith 97 GD with the

Cyrus Highsmith

2015 Gerrit Noordzij Prize, awarded every three years for extraordinary contributions to the fields of type design,

97 GD

typography and type education. The second American to win the award (Tobias Frere-Jones 92 GD was the first), he brings a distinctive original style and “the same sharp pen” to his font designs, children’s books and textbooks such as Inside Paragaphs: Typographic Fundamentals. In addition to teaching at RISD, Highsmith is a senior designer at Font Bureau—and created the typefaces used in this magazine (Quiosco and Antenna).

Much More Pleasant Despite the success of her moving 2014 bestseller Can’t We Talk About Something More PLEASANT?, Roz Chast 77 PT professed to being positively “floored” when she learned in April that she has won an unrestricted $250,000 Heinz Award for her “uncompromising body of work.” The longtime New Yorker cartoonist is one of six Heinz winners—who include a bioengineer and a geoscientist this year—cited for using “creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” Her award in the Arts and Humanities category is for “bringing wry humor and wit to some of our most profound everyday anxieties.” Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs opens on June 6 at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, where her cartoons, artwork and pysanka (dyed eggs) will delight crowds through October 26.

Roz Chast 77 PT



Seriously Surreal Start  »  22 Virtual + Grounded  »  28 Pure Resourcefulness  »  38 New President Starts Fresh  »  42

Starting up, starting out, starting fresh are all acts of creative will. The stories on the following pages look at the risks and rewards of starting—a practice, a business, a project, a presidency—at all ages and stages of life.

Can competing on a reality TV show actually help jumpstart a design practice?


by Liisa Silander Watching the drama unfold on screen may make weaker souls sweat, but Katie Stout 12 FD reveals only the slightest ruffle in the zenlike cool she has exuded throughout the competition. Even as the cameras zoom in close, she keeps her focus, intently weaving colorful strands of electrical wire to make the seat of a chair. The found material is tough to manipulate and demands time, which she doesn’t have. No one actually works like this—unless there’s $100,000 at stake and they’re making a show for national television. But with several design competitions now riding the crest of the reality TV wave, designers like Stout just might end up competing for a bit of fame and fortune—or at least mainstream exposure—far outside the world of high-end galleries, international furniture fairs and fashion weeks. “Reality” aside, there’s little more surreal than appearing on a nationally televised design competition edited down to a series of weekly episodes. It’s a feeling shared by some of the other alumni contestants who have given it a whirl: Mila Hermanovski 91 AP and Joe Segal MFA 09 TX on Project Runway, Jessica Brown MID 09 (see page 92) on this year’s new design/build competition Framework and Carley Eisenberg MFA 13 FD, who joined Stout as one of six designers competing on the HGTV weekly Ellen’s Design Challenge, the second TV design competition to premiere this year.




When Katie Stout 12 FD (the one laughing) started on Ellen’s Design Challenge, she was one of six contestants. Fellow alum Carley Eisenberg MFA 13 FD (to her right) competed well in several challenges but got “sent home” halfway through the competition.

“I was surprised at how comfortable I was right from the beginning.”

(as in Faceoff, another competition show based on theatrical makeup). But the vibe on Ellen’s Design Challenge is noticeably different: fewer competitors, a focus on their skills and talents, and judges less vicious in their feedback. In other words, the prototypical snarkiness is toned way down.

Katie Stout 12 FD

Stout confirms that being on Ellen DeGeneres’ show was exciting but bizarre. For four intense weeks, she disappeared into a vortex in the Los Angeles entertainment world that was nothing like her life as an emerging designer in Brooklyn. “We’d get picked up from our hotel in the morning,” she explains, “and dropped off again at night” after spending the day deeply engrossed in doing whatever the show demanded. Totally cut off from the outside world, she focused solely on designing and fabricating her responses to each new challenge. “I’d be so tired at the end of the day that I’d just grab something to eat in my room and go to sleep,” she says. Like the other TV competitions that have spun off from Project Runway, DeGeneres’ show pits designers against each other in a series of furniture-making challenges with specific time and materials parameters. Contestants present their completed designs to a panel of all-powerful judges charged with naming one winner and one loser each week—until two are left standing and the drama culminates in a final faceoff




Katie Stout BFA 12

above left: photo courtesy of HGTV


Stout didn’t exactly know what she was getting into in 2014 when her roommate Misha Kahn 11 FD got an email inviting him to apply for a mysterious new TV design competition. Thinking of it as “an adventure,” the two decided to apply as a team, but when Stout got called back and Kahn didn’t, she hesitated before accepting. He urged her to go for it, but even though she had survived RISD crits, she wasn’t sure she could distance herself enough from her work to withstand the “terrible scrutiny of being judged on national TV.” Once she committed to following through, Stout says she approached the entire thing like it was a residency. “For me the show was about exploration and experimenting,” she says. “And I was surprised at how comfortable I was right from the beginning. I had brought a box of crayons to sketch with and just decided on designs without overthinking them (since there was no time to anyway), which is something I don’t do in my normal practice.” Even though Stout came across as a bit naïve and “Valley girlish” on the show, Furniture Design Department Head John Dunnigan MFA 80 ID says that as a student she was

“RISD really pushed me to my limits in such a positive way. I love how involved everyone was and how they weren’t afraid to hold anything back.”

“very smart, very original. Katie knows a lot about handling materials and taking a project from a concept to a finished object,” he says. “She has a unique way of being spontaneously fun while taking risks, which is in some ways made possible by her skill as a designer and maker.” After joining the design hajj to Brooklyn three years ago, Stout admits that she “had to be a bit of a hustler,” meaning that while she sold some of her original furniture, she “had to supplement sales with miscellaneous freelance work to get by.” A day job at Johnson Trading Gallery gave her the opportunity to show some of her work there. Before long, she was offered the director gig at the gallery, which led to connections with artists like Bjarne Melgaard. Working on his 2013 Ignorant Transparencies installation for the Whitney gave her just enough exposure to feel like she might be able to make a go of focusing on her studio work full-time. But first she stumbled into TV land. “I often think about how my mother would have reacted to that choice,” Stout says, explaining that her mother, Katrina Morosoff 71 PH, passed away from cancer during Wintersession of her first year at RISD. “She was incredibly influential and supportive of me as an artist/maker growing up and was also very grounded and down to earth. I think she would have been shocked and highly entertained that I would compete on a furniture design reality show.” Stout shares her mother’s love of making—which eventually led her to consider RISD for college. “Maybe I chose RISD because my dad didn’t want me to go,” she says with a laugh. “But it was really that I didn’t want to go to a liberal arts school and major in science.”

In her own practice, Stout creates playful lamps, rugs, chairs, tables and other furnishings that reflect her pop aesthetic and bubbly personality.



Now, Stout says, “I owe everything to RISD. I wouldn’t even know what furniture design was if I hadn’t gone there. RISD really pushed me to my limits in such a positive way. I love how involved everyone was and how they weren’t afraid to hold anything back—which is very different from how it was on the show.”



But then it got even more surreal. Within a week of the original taping of the final episode, producers discovered that McLellan’s design—a clever sliding/hideaway table—wasn’t a truly “original piece,” as the competition rules stipulate. Once they surfaced a similar table by European designer Simon Shack, McLellan was disqualified. Stout says she never once questioned her own originality since she went into the whole thing knowing she’d just have to stay loose and design fast and draw from her own gut instincts. In an epilogue that ran at the end of the final episode, DeGeneres invited Stout back to the set—purportedly to help plug future seasons of Ellen’s Design Challenge. As the

photos courtesy of HGTV


Out in Hollywood, Stout sensed that the other designers on the DeGeneres show were playing it safe, sticking with what they knew—which is understandable under the circumstances. “We’d be given a new challenge and had to come up with our initial ideas in like under a half hour,” she says. “One time I swear we had 15 minutes.” Working with an assigned carpenter/ partner, each designer then produced a full-scale, finished piece of furniture in three days—without the option of working in the studio beyond set hours or pulling the tried-and-true all-nighters so common at RISD. While both Stout and Eisenberg (the other RISD grad competing) did well in the first challenge, neither one won it outright. But the judges agreed that Stout “took the most risks” and was “the most creative” in taking the challenge “to another level,” which ended up being something of a leitmotif throughout the subsequent challenges (except for when she made her infamous “cow table,” a mistake she dismisses as “an experiment in marbling gone wrong”). Once four of the six competitors had been sent home, Stout faced off against Tim McLellan, an older, self-taught furniture maker who wears a cowboy hat as part of his Texas persona. Both produced quality pieces for the final challenge, but after the requisite amount of reality show build-up, the judges proclaimed him the winner of the $100,000 prize and a spread in HGTV Magazine. Stout says she was disappointed but not devastated, especially since the entire experience had been more fun and invigorating than tense and cutthroat.

photo courtesy of HGTV

“I was surprised that I didn’t really care about failing.”

Stout hit it off well with her assigned carpenter Karl Champley (above left), who helped her produce a number of complex finished pieces in record time, including acrylic chairs threaded with electrical wire and a sculptural red acrylic wardrobe with wonderful details.

comedian breaks the news about McLellan’s disqualification and what that means, Stout laughs and shouts, “I won! I won! I won!,” jumping up and down and hugging her boyfriend and her brother, who had been brought onto the set. “This is just the coolest thing that has ever happened to me!” Despite the made-for-TV experience, Stout says that she actually surprised herself during the competition. “I guess I was surprised that I didn’t really care about failing,” she says. “And I loved working with Karl Champley [her assigned carpenter], who could build practically anything. I would work on the CNC files and he’d be cutting stuff and it was just so dreamy to have someone help me fabricate my work. I also

loved it because it made me feel empowered by what we could do in three days, which never happened when I would work in my own studio in Brooklyn. It really revolutionized the way I want to work.” Shortly after the final episode aired—which she admits made her “more nervous” than the competition itself—Stout thought about moving to Los Angeles, but then changed her mind (noting: “I don’t even have a license!”) in the frenzy of producing a bunch of new work for a show at Gallery Diet in Miami and installations in NYC. “It’s sort of like winning a small lottery,” she says, reveling in the newfound freedom and noting that her mother would have been proud, despite her initial reservations. “She would be relieved that I was about to get some money and tell me not to spend it on something like a car.” Now focused on establishing her own “fully functional studio making furniture, objects and some clothing,” Stout plans to build on what she learned about working with others on the DeGeneres show. “I would love if my studio/brand became larger than me—more collaborative and more involved with different markets and people.” As for a future as a TV personality, the bubbly young designer embraces the absurdity. “I would love to be Martha Stewart-meets-Roseanne Barr, doing dysfunctional DIY fix-ups, crafts and cooking,” she jokes. “Everything always looks bad. You have to pay the audience because they really don’t care. It gets cancelled halfway through the first season.” Riding the new wave of possibilities, Stout admits that she does have an inkling of a “real idea for a show that is kind of ‘how it works’-themed and involves working with manufacturers/fabricators to make semi-absurd furniture.” But in the end, she says: “In total seriousness, I care more about making stuff than being on TV.”




to the groundbreaking exhibition Chrome Web Lab. Created to showcase the innovation behind Google’s new browser, Web Lab was more than a show: it was an experience that brought the power of the web to life through a series of immersive, globally interactive experiments. On-site visitors collaborated with online viewers from 96 countries to make a roomful of robots do fun stuff—play instruments together in a real time, trigger a Google search to send data bouncing to and from servers around the globe, pan 360° around streaming video from a tank full of live sharks. And in the midst of it all, an elegant, mindboggling Sketchbot snapped photos of visitors before proceeding to sketch their portraits in a circular tray of sand. Open 24/7, the yearlong exhibition was a huge success, drawing more than six million online and on-site visitors and producing millions of user-generated creations. Behind it all was Tellart, the experience design firm Google Creative Lab chose to help conceptualize, design, develop and build the installations. For Tellart cofounders Matt Cottam BID 00 and Nick Scappaticci 00 ID, the London project marked a turning point. They had launched the studio when both were still juniors at RISD, based on a half-baked business plan Cottam had worked on in a Business Principles course and a lot of enthusiasm from fellow students ready to make interfaces from plastic, hot glue and hacked keyboards.



The alumni who started Tellart 15 years ago are still as excited as ever about where they’re headed.

“I was thinking: ‘Holy crap! Can we really pull this off?’” Matt Cottam BID 00

Five years ago, when Google’s London office called Tellart in Providence, the company “had never worked outside of the US before—ever,” says Cottam, who, as chief creative officer, now heads Tellart’s operation in Amsterdam. “And here we had a team of 10 people renting an entire apartment block in London’s Russell Square for half a year. I was thinking: ‘Holy crap! Can we really pull this off?’” Can we really pull this off? It’s a question a lot of RISD alums ask in the process of translating ideas into livelihoods. Can this actually work? What if I fail? Where is that everelusive balance between inspiration, bravado, risk and financial realities? Given that nine out of 10 startups fail, the success of a company like Tellart can seem like something of a fairy tale: an innovative, profitable leader in the world of interaction design, one that from the outside seems not just fully formed but inevitable, with more than two dozen employees. But of course, startup success is always more complicated than that. For every high-profile client Tellart works with— from Target to Phillips to the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—there have been lots of bumps and steep learning curves along the way, from realizing a core tech ingredient for a project couldn’t actually do what they’d hoped it could to knowing when to push back when clients make demands that negatively impact a design. As Tellart approaches its 15th anniversary, Cottam acknowledges that the company has experienced plenty of telling moments. Some, like the Google project, catapult them forward: Within a year of the Web Lab show, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York acquired Sketchbot for its permanent collection, prompting the team to think:




Matt Cottam BID 00

When the Cooper Hewitt acquired Tellart’s Sketchbot (above) for its permanent collection, the team was on cloud nine. Matt Cottam BID 00 (right) now runs the company’s Amsterdam office.

understand the data, the constraints and the requirements so that we can operate in a way that makes sense to us. We also brought in our friend and business school grad Peter Eiermann at the very beginning and though he’s no longer with us, we’ve built on what we learned from him to develop advanced structures as our projects have gotten more complex.” COLLECTIVE ENERGY

“We should be happy forever now.” And for the past six months, Sketchbot has been captivating visitors to the Cooper Hewitt’s show Tools: Extending Our Reach, which just closed on May 25. But other shifts are much more gradual, and often not even visible from the outside looking in. “One thing that has been dissipating recently is our old way of thinking—that we’re designers, not business people,” Cottam says. “We have a lot of responsibility working for these huge companies that expect really big things of us. But we’ve moved beyond feeling like there was some magic inside the business box that we didn’t undertsand.” Scappaticci, who’s now CEO, points out that once Tellart started “treating business management as a design project, it helped us to break it down into manageable parts and better

Here’s a challenge when you’re fresh out of school and want to start a business: Walk into a room and try to convince a company they need something they can’t really picture, because it doesn’t really exist. “It’s hard to think back to a time when people thought of computers as things you did computing stuff on—when they weren’t pervasive and part of everything,” Cottam says. “Today it’s totally different, given all the web-driven devices we all use everyday. So you can more easily show clients the way design makes a difference in the experience between using, say, a flip-phone versus an iPhone.” When Tellart was getting off the ground in the early 2000s, “it wasn’t about just doing good work at the right price,” Cottam says. “You had to spend a lot of time just educating the client about the benefits of being the first to do something like this. That’s a lot for a 25-year-old to do.” It also wasn’t something Cottam or his RISD friends ever conceived they would be doing just a few years after setting foot on campus. When they started Foundation Studies in 1996, there were 44 million cell phone subscribers in the US. Four years later, that number had more than doubled, to 110 million. Having gone to art school to focus on painting and film, Cottam and his cohorts in Industrial Design soon found themselves immersed in CAD and on the cusp of the phenomenon of physical computing.

“One thing that has been dissipating recently is our old way of thinking— that we’re designers, not business people.”



“By the time we graduated, we had Flash, we had animation, we had sound on the web—that was suddenly part of our experience in the world,” Cottam says. “So with the things we were driven to design, we realized they weren’t going to be static, material objects anymore. Instead we were talking about things made with microscopic chips, software and invisible bits.” The drive to design was there, along with the RISD studio experiences to support it. But the materials weren’t. “We realized we needed to treat data, sensors, computation and networks holistically—as materials in our shops,” Scappaticci explains. In other words, in this new realm “there was no equivalent to clay and wood and plastic that was accessible to us without going off and learning engineering,” Cottam says. So he and Scappaticci teamed up with Eiermann and fellow alums Josh Backer 99 FAV and Joel Taplin 99 ID to start a studio to build the tools designers need to work with software and electronics in the same kind of fast, flexible way that they work with plywood and plastic and foam. “We also wanted to build a bridge for engineers to better understand the human factors of digital product design,” Cottam adds.

“Krzysztof was a major factor…. Tellart would not be the same company at all without him.”

Makeshift circuit boards, experimental interfaces using wood or wool or water, primitive motion-sensor servers: As soon as Cottam and his friends could build something new, they would test it. As soon as they could test it, they would start to teach with it. From the very start they had an intense collective, creative energy. They also had a mission, embedded in the studio’s name: Tellart—to tell stories through the embryonic form of interaction design they envisioned. Of course, they also needed other key building blocks, which they managed to develop in those critical early years. They hired Brian Hinch 01 GD, who’s now chief production officer, as their first employee. And they built on the business plan Cottam had started as a student. Looking back on it now, he says, “I think I was treating our idea for a startup as if I was making a chair much more than thinking about how to support our families 15 years later.” But the plan did posit the requisite questions: What will Tellart offer? How much will the team charge? How many years will it take to break even? And it laid out guiding principles that “helped us with our alignment around how we as a group would define good work—work that was worth spending days or years of our lives on.” To help convert all that early momentum into a viable vision, Tellart needed something else that is critical to any startup: hands-on mentoring, which they lucked into via digital design guru and Professor Emeritus Krzysztof Lenk, a long-time faculty member in RISD’s Graphic Design department.

RISD Professor Emeritus Krzysztof Lenk (in foreground, speaking with Nick Scappaticci 00 ID) proved to be an invaluable resource as the Tellart team was figuring things out in its early years. The company is now involved in a multiphase project with the UAE government that entails crosscultural learning, complex logistics and frequent trips to Dubai.




Name Nick Scappaticci NamexxxxxBFA BFA00 89

“I t’s hard to think back to a time when computers weren’t pervasive and part of everything.”

Having just sold Dynamic Diagrams, his own information design firm in Providence, Lenk almost naturally morphed into a figurehead and advisor to the studio—at an especially critical time. After a few years, Cottam and his colleagues had been considering selling their fledgling digital media business to an interested buyer, but Lenk dissuaded them with his blunt advice: Stay where you are. Don’t sell. “Krzysztof was a major factor,” Cottam admits. “He brought us some of our first big clients and looked over our shoulders for years, fine-tuning our skills for seeing and designing. Tellart would not be the same company at all without him.” BOLD MOVES

Even with crucial support in place, Tellart still faced a fundamental obstacle in its first five years: The projects they kept getting hired for—the ones that brought in cash and were starting to look like their bread and butter—were not what they actually wanted to be doing. While clients wanted Tellart to build them their first website, the team aimed higher, wanting to design tangible objects and interactive environments creatively connected to the web. “There was a big stretch where we were just making media, not connecting things and spaces,” Cottam says. “We did all these interactive documentaries for online student recruitment—for something like 50 universities—because that was something we could package and sell as good storytelling.” SPRING/SUMMER 2015


“Tellart creates beautiful things—and the tools that make them possible have always felt really unique.” Andrew Haarsager 08 ID

A few of Tellart’s innovative environments: work in progress on the Museum of the Future in Dubai (left), the SoundAffects audio experiment in NYC (above) and the web-activated bells of Love Song Machine (right).

After a 2004 conference in Vienna, where Tellart generated considerable buzz for a toolkit it created and supported with a white paper, the team gave itself an ultimatum: Flip the ratio of business coming in from 80% media work and 20% physical interaction design to the exact opposite, 80% physical interaction design and 20% media work—within a year. It was a bold dare—one that required them to invest in new hires capable of getting the company where it wanted to be. RISD alums have always figured prominently among those hires, often brought in through classes various members of the Tellart team teach at RISD. For instance, Chief Strategy Officer Katie (Wray) Schon 05 ID joined the company after taking a medical simulation studio with Cottam when she was a senior. “I loved the idea of emerging technology as a design medium,” Schon says. “Tellart doesn’t see interaction design as a separate discipline—it’s more of an expansion of the materials we use as designers.” Andrew Haarsager 08 ID, who now leads Tellart’s New York office, adds that for him the attraction is working at “a place where the ‘products’ produced by the studio are singular experiences influenced as much by data and networks as by real objects. Tellart creates beautiful things—and the tools that make them possible have always felt really unique.” The self-imposed 80/20 ultimatum also required Tellart to reinvest in one of its RISD-honed strengths: using their own visual storytelling capabilities to convince clients of the value of emerging technologies in conveying their messages more meaningfully and memorably.

“I think what offset our lack of being able to go in and say, ‘If you invest $10 in this, you’ll get $100 back,’ was being able to make visual all of the challenges—the process, the constraints and the ideas for solutions—and figuring out what level of detail clients needed in order to understand the value of what we provide,” Cottam says. “We also never go in presenting a perfect solution because we know the design process doesn’t start with perfect solutions. It starts with really learning about our clients and the problems they’re looking to solve.” The shift in focus worked: Tellart has since launched one innovative web-connected environment after another, from Love Song Machine, the company’s hit Valentine’s Day installation in the form of a series of tuned bells that could be played via the web from anywhere in the world; to the child-obesity campaign Horsepower Challenge, a pedometerdriven gaming experience in which every step a Kentucky school student takes powers virtual buses racing to historic landmarks across the globe; to SoundAffects, a 10-day audio experiment that generated a music composition and accompanying video from raw data collected on a Manhattan street corner. And it really felt as if the dare had finally paid off when Tellart signed on as master designer for the Chrome Web Lab project. Though that led to a quantum leap in visibility, behind the scenes it also revealed what it takes to be a primary contractor on large-scale international projects. Those lessons came in handy when the UAE government asked Tellart to be part of the $136-million Museum of the Future (MoF) in Dubai, a massive, gleaming orb-shaped exhibition center and research lab slated to open in 2017. The project, which has already garnered global media attention, is a major undertaking, involving dozens of partners and building on two smaller-scale exhibitions Tellart has helped with last year and this year. “We’ve learned how to do all the electrical plans, the fire inspections, coordinate four or five airplanes’ worth of stuff that we make in Providence and get to Dubai and through



“We would never, ever go in presenting a perfect solution, because we don’t believe the design process starts with a perfect solution.” Matt Cottam 00 ID

customs on time,” Cottam says. “And we’ve gotten better at bringing in the experts and advisors we need to help educate ourselves,” Scappaticci adds. “We keep moving more to the front end of projects, conducting research, developing big ideas, providing expert consulting and developing designs and prototypes. There’s also a lot of management and meeting with subcontractors every day.” With the multiphase development of the MoF in Dubai, the next few years will mark yet another level of complexity and growth for Tellart. From the beginning, Cottam says, the studio has intentionally sought out projects that would fulfill multiple bottom lines—creative as well as financial ones. But while most companies measure success through expansion, Tellart is less interested in growth as a goal.

“Honestly, we don’t set very long-range goals,” says Cottam. “We’re more interested in a condition of work that we like to maintain—a good, ethical, healthy homeostasis for our company. “We keep nudging it in slightly different directions with projects that we come across or invent with clients,” he says, explaining that since the team is good at figuring out the new skills it needs along the way, Tellart tends to evolve naturally— through its own work. “I think people often like to hear something like, ‘Oh, we see ourselves expanding into these other markets and becoming the world leader in the Internet of Things.’ But we don’t see it that way. We see it much more as, ‘We’re going to continually support and nurture the ability for this team to live with design as a part of our lives.’”

Tellart worked with The Secret Little Agency to create the Coffee Connector for the Singapore Economic Development Board. The device will only work when two people—attending a conference, for instance— work together to ask it to do its brew thing, thereby prompting the type of personal connections at the heart of sharing a cup of coffee with someone.



RISD alumni now at Tellart Laila Aukee 11 ID Matt Cottam BID 00 Justin Couch MID 13 Fernando Diaz-Smith 13 ID Andrew Haarsager 08 ID Brian Hinch 01 GD Charlie Ledbetter 00 PT Emily Leighton MIA 13 Jack Lenk 99 ID Mikhail Mansion MFA 11 DM Nick Scappaticci 00 ID Katie (Wray) Schon 05 ID

“We’re more interested in a condition of work that we like to maintain—a good, ethical, healthy homeostasis for our company.”

Bright ideas combined with good connections help artists find the funding to start new projects. by Emilie Lee 04 IL

HISTORICALLY, ARTISTS HAVE PLAYED AN INFLUENTIAL ROLE in shaping American perceptions of wilderness and its role in our national identity. Among the first European explorers west of the Mississippi were painters who portrayed an endless Garden of Eden teeming with wildlife. Artists like Charles M. Russell romanticized the conquering cowboy, while others like Thomas Moran celebrated the spiritual qualities of nature and helped inspire our first conservation movement. Though the swift and violent settlement of the west is a well-known story, I was surprised to learn that a vast section of Montana’s northern Great Plains has remained relatively intact and that an organization called the American Prairie Reserve (APR) is working to save it. In a world where less than 1% of prairie grasslands are protected, this is an exciting effort in the history of American conservation. For the past six years, I’ve been steeped in 19th-century studio painting practices at the Grand Central Atelier in NYC, spending summers learning the methods of the Hudson River School artists through the Hudson River Fellowship, a residency for landscape painters. When I learned of the APR

“I started to notice which scenes really light up my imagination.”

and its mission, I saw an opportunity to reexamine the subject of wilderness conservation in the context of our time—using my own approach to painting inspired by an earlier generation of artists. What sets the APR apart from other conservation efforts is its creative method of purchasing land when it comes on the market and leasing adjacent government parcels to assemble a vast open space. When it’s complete, it will be the largest conservation area in the lower 48 states, offering a 3.5-million-acre home to wild bison, elk, pronghorn and many other species suffering from habitat loss in the Great Plains. FEELING THE SKY

Because the APR doesn’t offer programs for artists, I proposed and funded my own idea to visit and study the area. Thanks to a travel stipend from APR partner Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC)— along with donations of gear and art supplies from Patagonia, Buck Products and Gamblin Artist Colors— I was able to spend one month living on the prairie this spring, making plein air paintings, sketches and notes. Working in the wild is central to my process— being there allows me to not only see but feel the living qualities of nature. When I paint in the field, I strive for accuracy of color and form, gathering important information for larger paintings undertaken in the studio. I consciously choose not to work from photographs during this process, instead relying on my memory and imagination to complete the final work. When I arrived at the APR in mid April, I spent my first week hiking 8–10 miles a day with researchers from the ASC Landmark program as they collected data about wildlife. Covering this much ground right away in the company of people with a scientific

perspective was a great introduction. As we walked, I asked questions about plant species and wildlife behavior, which further opened my eyes to the intricate beauty of this place. I also started to notice which scenes really light up my imagination. Wide-open vistas and big skies feel expansive and boundless. Tangled sagebrush and greasewood in the foreground allude to the wildness of this place. And then, of course, there’s the abstract simplicity of sky versus earth. Back at my studio in Long Island City, NY and at a residency through Jentel Foundation, I will be working on the next phase of this project: five muralsized oil paintings that depict the prairie grasslands and the effort to conserve them. I will also revisit the APR several more times this year to see it during different seasons. Ultimately, I hope that this work stands as an enduring depiction of this unique cultural moment and inspires not only our generation, but also those who come after us. I hope that it shares a message of nature’s resilience and the story of a well-organized group of individuals committed to protecting an iconic American landscape.




Emilie Lee BFA 04

above left: In this sunset color study, I have some good color notes. When combined with accurate drawings, this will be extremely helpful in bringing my ideas to life on the large canvas in the studio.

above: For this view of Larb Hills, I was attracted to the curve of the horizon, the swaths of color and the gentle wisps of clouds that gesture in unison with the land. left: In the early morning—from 6-8 am—the light is magical and the meadowlarks are singing. I loved those peaceful hours spent alone with the wind and the grass, soaking in all the details. Quiet time in a remote landscape is such a gift.



bottom, far right: photo by Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxxxx

bottom, photo byfar Jo right: Sittenfeld photoMFA by Xxxxxxxx 08 PH Xxxxxxxxxxx

Four decades after first coming to RISD, Rosanne Somerson is the first female alum to lead the college.


whether she’s sketching ideas for furniture, considering materials for a studio project, planning progressive curricula— or envisioning RISD’s future. As the top candidate to emerge from a nine-month international search, she’s pleased to be the first alumna to serve as RISD’s president. And since her appointment was announced on February 18, she’s feeling the excitement of a new start—both in her own life and that of the college. In the four decades since she first came to RISD as a student, the new president’s experiences as a designer, studio furniture maker, educator and art and design advocate have been deeply rooted in the creative culture of this particular place. After returning to RISD in 1985 to teach, she founded the college’s first freestanding Furniture Design department in 1995, served as associate provost from 2005–07 and then moved up to provost, the top academic leadership position, in 2012. Starting in January 2014 she provided a seamless transition in assuming the role of interim president within weeks of John Maeda’s announcement that he was leaving to work in Silicon Valley. Though many members of the RISD community are already familiar with the new president, the following Q+A offers insight into pivotal moments in her own life.



As a teenager, how did you hear

What did you discover — about yourself

about RISD and why did it become

and RISD — once you came here?

your college of choice?

I learned that I could tackle projects that felt impossible and beyond challenging. As I began to develop my own voice and confidence, I learned to take myself seriously as a professional artist and designer— to push through uncertainty to get to new places of understanding and new expressions of my ideas. I also learned how to make things really well, and to connect conceptual development with making.

I graduated from high school a year early and started working on photography and creative writing. A good friend who saw my photos asked if I had ever heard of Rhode Island School of Design, so I visited the school to learn more. When I saw student work at Woods-Gerry Gallery it made me feel like a whole new world was opening to me. My sense of what was possible would never be the same. I only applied to one school after that visit, knowing this was where I wanted to be.

“Rosanne has a deep understanding of critical making and the changing role of design education. And she’s a rare individual who brings emotional intelligence and empathic reasoning to everything she does.” Josh Owen MFA 97 FD  |  president, Josh Owen LLC professor/ID program chair, Rochester Institute of Technology




How did you come to focus on furniture design (within ID) as your major?

Learning through immersive practice intrigued me—working with real materials at real scale. I have always loved the idea of making work that asks good questions, solves problems and brings my personal aesthetic and material contributions to bear. And I love the interactive nature of furniture design, working with an implied “user” in mind. What was most difficult for you in starting your own studio practice after graduation?

Starting and equipping a studio took a long time and was expensive. I had to find venues for exhibiting and selling my work that supported that without too much compromise. I was determined to keep my overhead costs low so that I could define the work I wanted to do rather than giving in to projects that wouldn’t move my work in the right direction.

Rosanne Somerson BFA 76

Somerson’s furniture has been shown at the Louvre in Paris, among other top venues, and is included in private, corporate and museum collections, most notably at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum, the Huntsville [AL] Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her curly maple, bronze and silk high-backed chair (right) is part of the permanent collection at the RISD Museum. In 2005 Somerson collaborated with two fellow faculty members to design a suite of furnishings (above) for RISD student housing.

“When I was a student, Rosanne believed in me more than I believed in myself. She nurtured my artistic voice and helped create the career I now have, supporting my work beyond graduation and providing me with life-changing opportunities. And the amazing thing is that she treated us all this way.” Tanya Aguiñiga MFA 05 FD | Los Angeles-based furniture designer/maker

When I heard about a particular museum exhibition, I boldly submitted work for consideration and got in. That exhibition led to gallery shows, where my work sold, and I gained enough confidence to begin gallery relationships. For years I did everything I could to support that work: I wrote for magazines, worked in restaurants, taught in a number of programs part-time and basically did whatever was necessary to build that practice and continue to make new pieces. After about six years—and a show in New York—I was eventually able to support myself by working in the studio full-time. Why did you choose to return to RISD to teach?

When Tage Frid, my mentor at RISD, retired, he invited me to apply to teach and Professor Emeritus Friedrich St. Florian (who was the dean at the time) offered me a position. I was honored, and also discovered that I have a strong capacity to guide students through processes similar to those that enabled me to become a professional designer and artist. The combination of helping students to develop individual practices while maintaining my own studio proved to be very effective and personally rewarding—a wonderful synergistic model for professional work.



“Rosanne has always been good at taking a step back and reframing a question to ask it in a bigger way. She understands the value of a RISD education and is always thinking about how we might better prepare young artists and designers for what’s next.” Dennis Congdon 75 PT RISD professor + graduate program director in Painting

In addition to your many roles at RISD, you have two daughters who are now young adults. How did raising them impact your approach to teaching and making?

Having children helps you think about the world you want to create for the future. Like most working parents, I found that there were times when I was juggling impossible schedules and needs. But somehow I managed to find a way to balance complex demands. My work and family meant everything, but in those years, there was no such thing as free time. Not that there is a lot of that now either. Why did you lead the charge to create a freestanding Furniture Design department in 1995?

When I started teaching at RISD, I was charged with directing a second graduate program in Industrial Design—an MFA that focused on furniture design. As a student, I had been frustrated that there was no designated undergraduate curriculum for sequential learning in furniture design and as I built the graduate program, more and more students wanted to know why there wasn’t a complementary undergraduate program. So when Hardu Keck MFA 64 PT, who was provost at the time, invited me to submit a proposal for a new department, I worked with several colleagues to create a new curriculum, with both undergraduate and graduate components. Since then I’ve been really gratified by the success of the department and the accomplishments of our alumni. We teach furniture design in a very broad-based and unique way, which has brought great distinction to RISD. Over the years, you’ve also taken up new interests in your private life— physical challenges like long-distance bicycling. Has this had an effect on your professional work?

Cycling is a great way to spend a lot of time in the outdoors and challenge myself physically. It is both unnerving and relaxing. I find that when I can let go and allow my mind to flow along with the pedaling, I come up with new ideas that change along with the landscape around me. I’ve also learned that as hard as riding up the hills can be, relief is always on the other side. Symbolically and physically this has been a great lesson.

RISD’s new president is as comfortable speaking to large crowds around the world as she is talking with grad students like Jungil Hong MFA 15 TX (above) about their work and process. She also likes the exhilaration and challenge of cycling and has completed several 100-mile rides.

When you applied to be provost in 2011,

How does it feel to be starting

you spoke to the campus community

something new?

about the experience of caring for

It’s exciting. The impact of an art and design education is becoming better understood across the globe—in part because of what our faculty and our alumni achieve and contribute to the world every day. I want to help more people understand what we do here, how well we do it and why that matters. I’ve always loved new beginnings and new challenges, especially ones that build on and grow from the work I’ve done in the past. I’ve been very fortunate professionally, and now I feel honored that I can use that tangible experience to help new generations of artists, designers and scholars define their own paths to professional creative lives. The world needs what they have to offer.

your mother before she passed away. How did that change you?

When you have the opportunity to guide someone you love through difficulty, you find strength in yourself that you may not have known existed. I felt truly privileged to ease the profound challenges my mother faced and to learn new, non-verbal ways to connect with her. She had a rare illness called PSP that slowly eroded her capacities, but I never stopped learning from her and honoring her deep intelligence even when she could no longer express herself. Now that you’re RISD’s 17th president, do you feel a more direct connection with Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf, the woman who really started RISD in the late 19th century?

I’m proud to be given the opportunity to lead RISD and to be the first alumna to do so. Our founders were forward-thinking individuals who conceived of a core mission that still has relevance today. But the current pace of change is unprecedented and opportunities seem to multiply exponentially. I plan to lead in a way that honors RISD’s legacy while providing a progressive vision to address the changing nature of higher education, the vital role of critical thinking and making, and new possibilities for the world we want to create.

“Rosanne instinctually helps me weedwhack through any convoluted thinking to the essence of the matter and the best path forward. And she does it so deftly and with such compassion that I don’t even realize she’s working her magic. Every interaction with her leaves me changed for the better.” Amy Devers MFA 01 FD designer/artist/maker/TV personality



campus community newsbits

Danny Glover speaking at RISD (1.30.15)

Honoring King’s Legacy In January RISD presented a thoughtful and inspiring series of events to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. The 2015 MLK Series featured a gospel music concert, a workshop on leadership and RISD’s annual day of service at a local elementary school. It also coincided with Kindred, a powerful student-curated exhibition featuring work by students of African descent. Organized by a dedicated committee headed by Director of Intercultural Student Engagement Tony Johnson 93 SC, this year’s events included a series of documentary films showcasing the role of African-American music in social change. All of the films shown were produced by actor and humanitarian Danny Glover (shown above speaking with students), who toured campus with students when he visited to deliver the culminating keynote address. “Design is a deliberate act of imagination,” the dapper 68-year-old noted. “A new world is possible if we imagine it so. That is our task, mandate and salvation.” 48


For more on RISD’s annual MLK series, go to

Sticking with tradition, RISD invited several standouts in contemporary culture to accept honorary degrees at Commencement, joining the 690 graduates who collected bachelor’s and master’s degrees on May 30. But there’s nothing traditional about this year’s honorees. Boundary-breaker John Waters accepted his first-ever honorary degree at RISD and did not put people to sleep as the Commencement speaker. As a writer and director, he’s made 16 outrageous films, including Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Hairspray (all featuring Divine, with Hairspray also becoming an award-winning Broadway musical), along with other kitsch classics such as Cry-Baby, Serial Mom and A Dirty Shame. Waters shows his photographs and sculptures in galleries throughout the world and has published books and screenplays, including the New York Times bestsellers Carsick and Roll Models. Three members of the pivotal band Talking Heads also accepted honorary degrees at Commencement. Alumni Chris Frantz 74 PT and Tina Weymouth 74 PT (see also page 60), who met David Byrne 73 FS* at RISD and co-wrote the hit song Psycho Killer in their painting studio in Carr Haus, and ex-Modern Lover Jerry Harrison, who joined Talking Heads just before the band released its breakthrough album in 1977, all attended the boisterous ceremony at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Adam Gopnik, the eloquent writer and critic best known for his three decades’ worth of fiction, reviews and profiles in The New Yorker, joined the special guests in accepting an honorary degree from RISD this year.

far left: photo by David O’Connor

“It is our mandate to use art as a platform for love and empathy.”

Cultural Heroes Salute Successors

Big Show/High Expectations

top right: photo by Azur Mele

As RISD’s single biggest and most anticipated show of the year, the 2015 Graduate Thesis Exhibition drew a steady stream of thousands of curious art lovers eager to see advanced work fresh from RISD studios. Clockwise from right: Jewelry by Wei Lah Poh MFA 15 JM, wounded snake ceramics by Soe Yu Nwe MFA 15 CR, found object sculpture by Julia Gartrell MFA 15 SC and powerful photographs by Paolo Morales MFA 15 PH represent a few of the hundreds of remarkable works of art and design presented by the 178 students collecting master’s degrees this spring. Held in a 28,000-sf hall in the Rhode Island Convention Center, the exhibition offered each graduating student sufficient space to show a significant body of final work for the two-week span leading up to Commencement.

To see more work from this year’s show, go to



Collective Triumph Collection 2015, Apparel Design’s popular

NYC-based event designer David

runway show, briefly transformed the

Stark 91 PT created a wonderful envi-

stately Providence Performing Arts Center

ronment for the pop-up show, where

in mid May with a show marked by a

each student stood near the display

great range of approaches—sculptural,

of his or her own collection and had the

vibrant, provocative, playful—like this coat

opportunity to talk about their work

(below right) by Andrea Dyes 15 AP. This

with the hundreds of fashion lovers

year all 18 seniors were also excited to

in attendance. Stephen Smith 15 AP

have the opportunity to show their final

(below left) stands in front of his

thesis collections to industry insiders at

collection; eveningwear by fellow

RISD Backstudio 2015, a special exhibition

grad Chaz Aracil 15 AP as displayed

in New York City on May 18. Among the

at Backstudio.

many design professionals at the event were RISD trustee Nicole Miller 73 AP and Maurice Antaya, shown chatting with President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID.

Uncreative Practices When poet and UbuWeb founder Kenneth Goldsmith 84 SC visited RISD this spring, the author of the influential book Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age (2011) shared his latest thoughts on appropriation—as part of a cross-disciplinary symposium on Uncreative Practices. The well-attended event paired live discussion with a collaborative online exercise in which students, faculty and other audience members reflected on the proceedings in real time by adding words and images to a shared Google document shown on a large screen behind the speakers. The flurry 50


of on-screen activity both complemented and competed with panelists’ prepared statements. With popular memes and images of Kenny G, Fry from Futurama, Morpheus from The Matrix and (of course) cats flashing behind him, Goldsmith spoke eloquently about the desperate need for academics to reconceive notions of pedagogy, plagiarism and critical inquiry to reflect the mash-up mindset of modern-day reality. “Where tech leads, art and culture follow,” he noted. “The boundaries between high and low art have been annihilated.”

“It’s like a painter who gets obsessed with creating the perfect brush and never gets any paint on the canvas.” Robert Hodgin 98 SC

Talking Tools

Co-Works Now Cooking

Undergraduate and graduate students in Intermittancy, a spring Interior Architecture studio taught by Critic Michael Beaman, were among the first to use the state-of-the-art equipment in RISD’s new collaborative Co-Works space on the ground floor of the CIT’s Fletcher Building. “The main goals of the class are to introduce students to digital manufacturing and teach them to work computationally,” Beaman says. Making full use of the high-tech tools at Co-Works, they fabricated work with laser cutters, 3D printers and a resin printer, using Rhino software and a Grasshopper plug-in that allows for writing custom code. By focusing on proposed redesigns for the interior of RISD WORKS, the retail shop in the Chace Center, students developed “designs that will allow the store to present the alumni work it sells in a more curated, focused and adaptable way,” Beaman explains. Follow RISD tidbits of interest at

This spring’s multidisciplinary tool () forum—conceived by Architecture Critic Joy Ko in partnership with four departments and the RISD Code Studio—offered three focused sessions designed to take stock of a range of digital and analogue tools used in creative practice. The series began in late February with a discussion centered on Artisan–Toolmaker, asking participants to consider the most meaningful, novel, strange or provocative tools they use or only dream about using. The March session on Interfaces<–>Imagination— moderated by Assistant Professor of Textiles Brooks Hagan MFA 02 TX—brought together several RISD faculty members, 3D printing expert Duann Scott (who runs the NYC-based consultancy Bits to Atoms) and visiting artist/coder Robert Hodgin 98 SC, who also presented a talk on his groundbreaking digital designs. Ko kicked off the conversation by noting that the interface-imagination relationship goes two ways and postulated that most users would describe the best interfaces as “seamless” or “frictionless.” While Hodgin immediately concurred, noting that he only notices interfaces when they disappoint him, other panelists disagreed. “A proper interface should introduce a little friction,” Associate Professor of Industrial Design Paolo Cardini maintained, “in order to reflect the relationship between the designer and the user.”

At one point, Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Cas Holman joked that she’s sometimes more enamored with the jigs she makes than the objects they’re designed to help fabricate. Digital + Media Critic Evelyn Eastmond MFA 12 DM—a former software engineer who only recently began working non-digitally—noted how critical that kind of ingenuity is at RISD. But Hodgin pointed out the downside: getting distracted from his real goals by the tools he needs to make in order to reach them. “It’s like a painter who gets obsessed with creating the perfect brush and never gets any paint on the canvas,” he quipped. The third session in April brought together another panel of fascinating speakers to focus on Place: Applications/Implications. Moderated by Foundation Studies Program Head Shawn Greenlee 96 PR (see page 79), it included a separate lecture by visiting artist Jer Thorp from The Office for Creative Research in Vancouver, BC.



Contemporary Contradictions at ICFF Illustrious Illustrators RISD’s Illustration department stood out even more than usual at national competitions this year. Of the 25 Illustration students and recent alumni with work selected for inclusion in the Society of Illustrators (SOI) 2015 Student Scholarship Competition and exhibition in NYC—which gets thousands of entries from throughout the country—five collected top prizes, earning more than $11,000 in awards. “We couldn’t be more excited for them,” note adjunct faculty members Kelly Murphy 99 IL and Antoine Revoy 99 FAV, who coordinated the department’s entries to both the SOI competition in NYC and the Illustration West 53 show sponsored by the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles (SILA).

Hania Ansari 15 IL earned a scholarship award for TSA Muslim Talking Dolls (above), Andie Dinkin 14 IL won for her piece Cafe Savoy and Branche Coverdale 14 IL earned an award for his piece Black Moth Super Rainbow. Esme Shapiro 14 IL (see page 11) took top prizes in both the NYC and LA competitions, and RISD students also earned three of the six SOI awards in the Animation category, with Katy Strutz 15 IL and Emily Neilson 15 FAV winning first place for their animated film Alive, and Taylor Beldy 15 FAV and Na Yon Cho 16 FAV also earning recognition. 52


Six Furniture Design majors showed work in Face to Face: Searching for Authentic Experiences as part of the mid-May International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in NYC. Created in a RISD studio by the same name, the work explores the difficulty of direct communication in a world dominated by electronic devices. For instance, Permalink by Emre Bagdatoglu MFA 16 FD connects the video chat experience to an analogue object: a pair of wooden boxes (below) activated when one user opens his or her box to alert someone else to engage via the mechanical music box inside. Linus Kung 15 FD designed Privacy/Curiosity (right) to play on the paradoxical relationship between the urge to express your individuality through social media and the desire to maintain a certain level of privacy. “Humans inherently depend on one another both physically and psychologically,” notes Associate Professor Lothar Windels BID 96, who taught the studio. “Through this work, students explore the contradictions of technology today—the way it enables humans to communicate over long distances, while simultaneously creating feelings of loneliness and disconnection.”

Oldham Brings Honesty + Enthusiasm In late April Textiles students in two Fabric Silkscreen classes taught by Assistant Professor Mary Anne Friel presented their new print designs to a very special visiting critic: fashion designer, author and all-around creative superstar Todd Oldham, who had also come to RISD last spring to accept an honorary degree at Commencement. During one visit, when students presented prints inspired by sea creatures housed at the Nature Lab, Oldham was as gracious as ever in offering incisive feedback. “These tones are exquisite, and I love your sophisticated color combination,” he told Staveley Kuzmanov 17 TX, examining her silk chiffon. “And this print really captures the tumble between the water and the sea floor,” he said of a textile designed by Christine Kim 17 TX. Made with specialty fabrics such as wool, velvet, silk knit and linen, the prints showcase experimental approaches to markmaking, dyeing and printing. When Oldham came to campus last spring, he met with RISD Museum curators of Costume + Textiles Kate Irvin and Laurie Brewer, who are now organizing a retrospective of his work slated to open at the museum in 2016. As arrangements for the exhibition continued during his visits this spring, he laid out some of the finely crafted skirts and dresses likely to be included in the show, encouraging students to examine them closely. “For at least six or seven years, I made all my own dress patterns,”

Oldham told them. “I love old clothes and learned about construction by shopping at Goodwill and altering everything. When you’re designing fashion,” he added, “it’s important to remember that the pieces will be seen from all angles. You need to think about all facets of the work.” Oldham also collaborated with Textiles majors to create a new print, with students in Friel’s two classes working together to make 18 yards of silkscreened muslin. He plans to transform the fabric into a full-skirted dress that will be part of the RISD Museum exhibition.

“If you love what you’re making, chances are someone else will too.” Each visit to RISD was punctuated by a steady stream of insights and encouragement as the engaged designer led experimental printing and dyeing sessions, guided students through final print projects and offered feedback during crits. Perhaps most valuable of all, Oldham revealed an uncanny ability to really see each student’s work and tap into what makes it special. “Whatever it is,” he told one hesitant student during a critique, “just make sure you mean it. If you love what you’re making, chances are someone else will too.”

top: photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH

Connecting with Korea This spring RISD introduced Slice of Life: Dwelling, Thinking, Making, a pilot program in collaboration with Ewha Women’s University in Seoul. Architecture Professor Peter Tagiuri, who developed the program in concert with RISD Global and the division of Architecture + Design, explains that the goal was to enable RISD students to develop a deep understanding of Korea’s culture and history and how it relates to neighboring Asian nations. Tagiuri selected Korea as the host country for the pilot program in part because nearly 400 alumni currently live in Korea and in part because of his close relationship with the Suh family, which includes brothers For timely stories about what’s going on at RISD, go to

Do Ho Suh 94 PT and Euiho Suh BArch 91. “The Suh family has inspired many Korean students to apply to RISD,” he explains, “and we have a lot of alumni friends there [who] are able to introduce students to deeper aspects of the local culture than I could ever expect to.” Approximately 90% of the RISD students who participated in the pilot program are of Asian origin. “In Korea these students learned how to move around in a different culture, how to work comfortably and productively as foreigners,” Tagiuri says. And most importantly, perhaps, “they learned that you can bring your profession with you anywhere and use your skills as an artist or designer to look deeply at the world around you.” SPRING/SUMMER 2015


Experimenting with Raqs Media Collective As this year’s Kirloskar Visiting Scholars, the three Indian artists known as Raqs Media Collective—Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta—worked with Painting Professor Dennis Congdon 75 PT to teach A Myriad Marginalia, a three-week experimental studio that explored the use of marginalia in manuscripts dating from medieval times to today. The course culminated in the creation of a 100-page, large-scale manuscript beautifully bound by bookbinder Jim DiMarcantonio 86 IL. “But the real heart of the course,” notes student Jagdeep Raina MFA 16 PT, “was our month spent with Raqs in the RISD Museum’s Lower Farago Gallery, where we looked, drew, wrote, read, talked and drank tea—all in a space open to the whole RISD community and the public.”

Drawing Ambience Drawing Ambience, a new show at the RISD Museum through August 2, features iconic architectural drawings made and collected in the pre-computer decades from 1971–90, when Alvin Boyarsky served as chairman of the Architectural Association (AA) in London. The Pleasure of Architecture (left), made by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, is among the many drawings on view by such architectural stalwarts as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind and Mary Miss, among others. The idea for the show grew out of discussions between Jan Howard, the museum’s chief curator and its Houghton P. Metcalf, Jr., curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, and Architecture Professor Chris Bardt BArch 83, whose firm 3SIXØ

(Not So) New Provost This spring Pradeep Sharma,

a designer, researcher, teacher and seasoned design strategist who has worked at RISD since 2012, was appointed RISD’s chief academic officer. After first joining the academic leadership team as dean of Architecture + Design, he served as interim provost beginning in January 2014, when then-provost and now President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID assumed the interim presidency. “Since coming to RISD Pradeep has proven himself to be a trusted leader, and an expansive and challenging thinker,” notes Somerson. “He has fostered new forms of research as well as integration among the fine arts, 54


design, liberal arts and Foundation Studies at RISD.” As provost, Sharma works closely with the president to articulate RISD’s academic vision and direction. He leads a team that works together to prioritize teaching and learning initiatives and ensure that faculty members have sufficient resources to deliver on academic priorities. The provost also travels extensively to speak about RISD’s deep, immersive, studio-based approach to learning. “I deeply value the commitment to practice at RISD, with art and design at the forefront of everything we do,” says Sharma, who holds a PhD in complexity management from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. “At RISD new technologies coexist with traditional technologies, new methods constantly evolve, ideas drive making, students want to change the world, faculty really know how to teach, the hand is conscious of the brain and ideas exist in the context of practice, culture, society and politics.”

For faculty news updates, go to

“At RISD… the hand is conscious of the brain and ideas exist in the context of practice, culture, society and politics.”

above left: © Office for Metropolitan Architecture | above right: Raqs photo by Erik Gould, RISD Museum

handled much of the exhibition design.

Faculty Newsbits In June and July Professor and Glass Department Head Rachel Berwick 84 GL is working as an artist in residence at Robert Rauschenberg’s 20-acre estate on Captiva

Faculty Show Inspiring Work

Island, FL. The Robert Rauschenberg

An incredible range of work by 185 full- and part-time

Foundation (RRF) launched the Rauschen-

faculty members was on view at the RISD Museum

berg Residency program three years ago

earlier this year in the 2015 Faculty Biennial. Many of the

to advance new work, extend practices

exhibiting artists showed pieces representative of their

into new mediums and serve as a research

best-known work, while others took the opportunity

and development lab.

to step outside of their usual milieus to create delightful surprises. Among the work on view: To Ride the Son

Assistant Professor of Literary Arts +

(above) by Printmaking faculty member Daniel Heyman,

Studies Avishek Ganguly has earned the

Birds of Paradise (above right) by Photography Professor

first RISD Faculty Global Fellowship, which

Eva Sutton and the modular poster system (right) by

will enable him to travel to London during

adjunct faculty member Micah Barrett 12 GD designed to

the 2015–16 academic year to research

promote the show itself. This year writers and faculty

how translation and multilingualism impact

scholars who don’t make physical objects also shared

contemporary theater and performance.

their work via a companion series of public presentations. Skywriting, an installation by Associate Professor of Foundation Studies Leslie Hirst, is on view through June 28 at Kunstverein

Legacy of Largesse Building on a long legacy of support from his family, David Rockefeller has made a gift of $2.5 million to fund and expand the RISD Museum’s collection of decorative arts and design. The funding provides for an endowed curatorship to help care for the collection, along with $500,000 in support of a new David and Peggy Rockefeller Gallery within the museum’s suite of European art galleries. “When my late wife, Peggy, and I discussed the idea of creating a room to reflect our collecting interests, we thought immediately of RISD,” says Rockefeller. “Both sides of my family—Aldriches as well as Rockefellers—have had a long and happy relationship with the RISD Museum.” Rockefeller also plans to give the museum 43 pieces from his family’s collection of rare furniture and decorative arts, including silver serving pieces, European porcelain and a stunning 8th-century Tang dynasty figure of a standing court lady (right) that was displayed for years in his office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Baden Galerie in Baden, Austria. For Now, At Once, a spring solo show

Elizabeth A. Williams,

who joined the museum’s curatorial staff in 2013, is now its first David and Peggy Rockefeller Curator of Decorative Arts and Design. She plans to make good use of the new resources by continuing to expand exhibition and education programs and further preservation and conservation efforts.

To keep up with what’s going on at the RISD Museum, go to

of new work by Painting Critic Vera Iliatova, attracted positive attention during its run at Monya Rowe Gallery in NYC. A critic for The New York Times pointed out that in her “dreamy paintings of girls in verdant landscapes” Iliatova uses “a deft, brushy touch that gives the surfaces of her canvases a sensuously tactile presence.” Waiting Out the Latter Days, a new monograph by Associate Professor of Photography Steven B. Smith just out this spring, chronicles the transition of Western US landscapes into suburbia, combining elements of Cold War politics, Mormon culture and street photography. Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth is presenting its Sr. Ann Keefe Award for Creativity and Social Justice to Professor Paul Sproll, head of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design, on June 5.



connecting through the Alumni Association

“I am reminded constantly of the world’s injustice.”

Corridors of the Soul A N ACCOMPLI SH ED ART I ST

with a very distinctive voice, Miriam Beerman 45 PT has lived somewhat under the radar in the contemporary art world. But in vetting nominations from the entire RISD community, the Alumni Council’s awards committee recognized in her a gifted artist whose practice spanned seven decades. In honor of her remarkable spirit and body of work, the Council presented Beerman with its 2015 Award for Artistic Achievement. Since she can no longer travel, her son accepted the honor on her behalf at RISD’s May 30 Commencement ceremony. As a student at RISD in the 1940s, Beerman gained a lifelong love of abstract expressionism from the legendary professor and painter John Frazier (a 1912 RISD graduate who served as president from 1955–62). She went on to work with Yasuo Kuniyoshi during a brief stint at the Art Students League of New York, followed by a foray into printmaking with Adja Yunkers at the New School for Social Research. In the mid 1950s Beerman earned two consecutive Fulbright grants to study in Paris, where avant-garde artists of the day made an indelible impact on her evolving practice. Once she returned to the US, she taught, got married, raised her son, earned grants and residencies, and continued to paint almost nonstop. During her 70-year career, Beerman embraced the “poetry” of the studio process and the “beauty 56


and vigor” of her painting materials as a counterbalance to the atrocities and absurdities of our times. “I am reminded constantly of the world’s injustice,” she wrote earlier in her career. “It weighs upon my mind and body.” An accomplished colorist, Beerman infused her layered canvases with a political and emotional intensity that is often relieved through a touch of lightness. “The physicality of the medium helps” her ideas take shape, she has said: “Forms emerge out of the thickness of the paint… and strange as it may seem, there are suggestions of comic relief. As in the theater of the absurd, the tragic and comic go hand in hand.” Beerman exhibited in 32 solo shows, including the first by a female artist at the Brooklyn Museum (in the 1970s). Her work presents “a pictorial world of texture, symbolism and fluid line—in summation,

For more on Miriam’s work, go to

Beerman’s work presents “a pictorial world of texture, symbolism and fluid line… a strange glow of beautiful sympathy for humanity.”

RbD on the Horizon October 9 –11 Fall wouldn’t feel right without RISD by Design weekend in early October. If the dates aren’t burned into your brain by now, the event takes place over Columbus Day weekend. The inauguration of Rosanne Somerson 76 ID as the first female alum to be selected president is at the center of this year’s RbD festivities (see back cover).

Among Beerman’s memorable paintings are Soutine Hiding (far left, 1984, oil on canvas, 61 x 72"), owned by the Mobile [AL] Museum of Art, and Nothing Has Changed (left, 1999, oil on canvas, 68 x 67"). Her richly symbolic work is unflinching in capturing the tragedy and pain of contemporary life.

a strange glow of beautiful sympathy for humanity,” notes Marisa Pascucci, who co-curated the 2006 exhibition Miriam Beerman: Eloquent Pain(t) at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY. This spring filmmaker Jonathan Gruber released Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos, a documentary about her life and work. After premiering at the Palm Beach [FL] International Film Festival in March, the documentary will be shown in August at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, among other screenings. A retrospective of Beerman’s collages is also planned for this fall at Lawrence University’s Wriston Galleries in Appleton, WI. In addition, her paintings are included in the collections of the RISD Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, among many others. “I think very few people understand what I’m doing,” Beerman observed in a 2009 oral history for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. “But I don’t want to explain it. I think that the work should be resolved in the mind of whoever is looking at it.”

As always, the weekend also offers an inspiring mix of exhibitions, demos, hands-on workshops, open studios,

special reunion gatherings and the popular street sale, which is taking on a new twist this year (see below). But most of all, it’s a great reason to corral your RISD friends and plan to meet up in Providence this fall.

Fresh Start for Street Sale As you may have heard, the Alumni Relations office has made some changes to the Alumni + Student Art Sale held during RISD by Design weekend. We sent out more clearly defined criteria for participation, implemented a new jury process for selecting work and are adding more options for booth sizes, increased advertising and promotion, and cash prizes in two categories: People’s Choice and Emerging Artists. While making these changes, the office is also scaling back to two sales in Providence each year. In other words, as of 2016 there won’t be a spring sale but the fall and holiday sales will continue. “It has become clear that we can’t continue to support the kind of experience that both participants and visitors deserve three times a year,” notes Director of Alumni Relations Christina Hartley 74 IL. SPRING/SUMMER 2015


RISD x NYC Design Week Alumni Relations again published an online design guide (risddesignweek. com) listing alumni exhibiting at the mid-May International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), Noho Design and other NYC Design Week venues. It also hosted a Sunday-evening reception for RISD participants at WANTED Design in Brooklyn. Among the dozens of alumni showing in NYC that week were Pete Oyler MFA 09 FD with this vase for Assembly + Design, Katrina Vonnegut 09 FD with Vonnegut/Krafts’ lovely line of furnishings and Inigo Elizalde 95 PT with his stunning rugs.

Starting Over by

Greg Kanaan 02 FAV



O NE O F T H E BEST PI ECES OF ADVI CE I’ve ever received came when I was contemplating a career change—from television to law. What at first seemed like an utterly insane notion eventually became too intriguing to ignore. “Am I crazy for considering this?” I asked a friend. “The lost income, the three years of law school, the loans, the job market, uprooting my family to another state?” His response changed my life. “Put the idea in a drawer and forget about it. If you’re still interested six months from now, you know you’ve got something.” So I did. And when I returned to the idea six months later, it no longer seemed so crazy. After thinking a lot about why that is, I’ve concluded that the time away gave me the chance to come back with a clear mind and a lack of judgment. It also allowed me to approach it organically rather than out of desperation. I’ve never been an epiphany guy. It’s always been evolution, not revolution. The choice to leave TV—an industry I spent three years preparing for in RISD’s FAV program and then actively participated in for seven years—was not easy. Every time I seriously considered it, I was dissuaded by guilt (“I spent 10 years doing this. I can’t just throw that away!”), fear (“I don’t know how else to earn a living!”) and the obvious lunacy (“I went to RISD to practice art, not law!”). It didn’t help that despite my concerns about the entertainment industry, I still loved filmmaking. Leaving it felt like breaking up a long-term relationship.

That six months allowed me to come to terms with leaving television, and gave me the space to think critically about why I wanted to go into law. Initially, my infatuation was superficial, based more on fantasy than on any real-world understanding of what lawyers do. I knew I wanted to stop freelancing and I knew lawyers made good, steady money—but that wasn’t enough to justify throwing a wrench into the life my wife and I had built. Once I researched what lawyers actually do, I was amazed at how appealing it is: I like the challenge of solving problems for people who are (often) in dire straits. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that RISD prepared me to take such a drastic step. Since then, as I’ve

“I still loved filmmaking. Leaving it felt like breaking up a long-term relationship.” applied the same advice to other areas of my life, letting an idea marinate so that I give it the seriousness and thoughtfulness it deserves has become a wonderful way of determining what’s truly important to me. Going to law school and becoming an attorney was a risk, but it was a calculated one. I love being an attorney and can’t imagine doing anything else. And in a delightful twist of fate, it has allowed me to circle back to my first love—film and television—since I devote my practice to providing young artists and filmmakers with the advice and knowledge I wish I had had when I was first starting out. I now realize the only reason all this happened is because I put the idea in a drawer for six months and forgot about it. If you’re starting over or starting something new, I highly recommend you do the same.

Greg writes about legal issues and creative practice at

Across the Pond RISD/London has been on a roll recently, hosting events almost every month this year, including an April tea at the home of Alexander Dale BArch 14 (center left). In March RISD/Gulf Club Leader Saba Qizilbash MA 04 (below center) hosted a talk by Salima Hashmi MAE 90 (to the right of Saba) on Art and Activism in Contemporary Pakistani Art at American University in Dubai. And in early April, RISD/Tokyo alumni spent another fun afternoon celebrating Hanami—the national tribute to cherry

Clubbing Around the US While RISD was digging out all winter, alumni with the good sense to live somewhere warm enjoyed good con-

blossoms—by picnicking at Tokyo’s Inokashira Park.

artistic mecca housing the mural project Pow Wow,” Jamie writes. “I’m looking forward to more of these

versations. In January RISD/Miami—

gatherings so that we can continue

a new club led by Jayda Knight Uras

the dialogue and support one another.”

99 IA—held its first event at the Art

A new RISD/Houston club also got off

Center/South Florida (top right),

to a good start thanks to club leaders

where alumni visited studios of

Falon Mihalic MLA 12 (above left)

several artists in residence. In Hawaii

and Katie Schon 05 ID, who hosted

Jamie Allen 05 IL organized a great

a gathering at the Post Oak Whole

get-together at a new bar in Kakaako

Foods, which boasts the distinct

(above right). “It’s an up-and-coming

advantage of brewing its own beer.

Faculty on the Road Longtime RISD professor and Dean of Foundation Studies Joanne Stryker visited alumni in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco this spring to speak about new developments on campus. Nathan Kendrick 98 GD and Gregory Baker 98 GD graciously hosted the RISD/NorCal Event at DESIGNMAP

Teachers Talk Shop in NOLA On March 27 Alumni Relations

while Nikolai and Simon Haas 08 PT

hosted a reception for teachers

stepped forward to welcome RISD/LA

attending the 2015 National Art

alumni to The Haas Brothers studio.

Education Association Convention in New Orleans. President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID was a featured speaker, presenting on Critical Making: Making the Future, and her former student Stephanie Silverman 04 FD (see page 82) accepted the Eastern Region Secondary Art Educator of the Year award. Professor Paul Sproll, head of RISD’s department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD), also presented at the convention and enjoyed meeting with alumni educators at the reception.

For a list of club contacts around the world, go to



It All Started at RISD Chris Frantz 74 PT + Tina Weymouth 74 PT “If we hadn’t gone to RISD our lives would be completely different,” Chris Frantz 74 PT and Tina Weymouth 74 PT readily admit. They met at RISD 44 years ago and went on to make a life, two kids and a full career together—starting with Talking Heads and then Tom Tom Club and other musical ventures. On May 30 they returned to RISD with former Heads bandmate and ex-Modern Lover Jerry Harrison to accept honorary degrees at RISD’s 2015 Commencement (see also page 48). “My time at RISD was one of the happiest of my life,” says Weymouth. “It was an epiphany—as if another part of my brain kicked in. Painting and music are connected, but I can’t think of anything that moves me more than music.” Weymouth, who had been studying art history and French literature at Barnard when she transferred, immediately felt at home at RISD, discovering that she was with “oddballs—just like me. It was an immersion in a whole other world of people studying only art.” Frantz agrees, noting that as Painting majors, they were both strongly influenced by late professor Richard Merkin MFA 64 PT, whose “approach was not to reprogram you by breaking you down, but to inspire the exploration of everything around you.”

“RISD alumni are very accomplished. Whether they’re making it big right now or not, they bring a meaningful relationship with creativity to the world.” Part of that exploration involved pursuing a love of music with other artists on campus. Frantz, a drummer who had played in bands in high school, had put performing on the back burner when he came to RISD. But he soon felt that something was missing and wanted to get back to playing. For a while he hooked up with a soul band called The Brotherhood, but

Once Tina (on guitar) and Chris (on drums) started playing with David Byrne (right) at RISD, they went on to found the breakthrough band Talking Heads.



after working on a friend’s film soundtrack with David Byrne, who had dropped out after Foundation year, Frantz invited him to join the new band he formed in the spring of 1973 with his friend from Kentucky, David Anderson (who also dropped out after a year at RISD). In the painting studio they shared on the second floor of Carr House, Frantz, Weymouth and Byrne wrote the now-famous words to Psycho Killer—initially for that new band, The Artistics (aka The Autistics). Weymouth was a big supporter, but it took her then-boyfriend nearly two years to convince her to join them on stage. Though she had learned folk guitar out of books while in high school in Iceland, she had never thought about playing in a band. The Artistics were, for the most part, “a prototypical, all-guy punk band—very geeky and horribly loud,” says Weymouth. “You couldn’t stand closer than 50 feet because it was so abusive. But I loved them because they promoted artistic license to be weird. And I liked playing guitar, so that’s what seduced me ultimately.” Sharing music—through concerts in Providence and dancing late into the night at local discos—became a ritual of Chris and Tina’s courtship, which led to marriage in 1977—the same year Talking Heads released its first album, which was immediately hailed as a breakthrough. Between then and 1991, the band went on to tour the world, record 10 albums and work with Jonathan Demme in making Stop Making Sense, among the best concert films of all time. In 1991 Frantz and Weymouth formed the band Tom Tom Club, which led to their first gold record through the hits Wordy Rappinghood and Genius of Love. In 2002 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More than 40 years after it all began, Frantz and Weymouth continue to tour and record music, recently embarking on a new electronic music project. In between, they’ve kept connected with RISD. “RISD alumni are very accomplished,” Weymouth says. “They know they’re good. Whether they’re making it big right now or not, they bring a meaningful relationship with creativity to the world.”

True Partners Meghan (Cowan) Devinat 01 JM + Benoit Devinat BID 02 “We’ve always collaborated on projects together, but for ourselves,” say designers Meghan (Cowan) Devinat 01 JM and Benoit Devinat BID 02, almost in sync. But given their busy lives— renovating a house, raising children, working full-time jobs—their long-held desire to design products together had to wait. “Our first jewelry concepts were born right around the birth of our first daughter, Juliette, in 2009,” Meghan says, which helps explain why it took five years before they were ready to launch DUO | DUET, a new startup based on a line of lovely jewelry made from laser-cut Ultrasuede.

top right: photo by Jen Brister | Brister Photo

“Our story is truly rooted in a love affair—with each other and with art.” “Our separate backgrounds and skill sets allow us to collaborate in a way that lets the best parts shine,” Meghan says. “Benoit’s understanding of manufacturing and material manipulation allows us to utilize uncommon materials and industrial processes, and my love of decorative arts, use of organic forms and obsession with pattern-making help us create feminine jewelry forms with touches of traditional metal fabrication.” Ultimately, they’d also like to produce tabletop items, lighting and furniture—all with a consistent aesthetic—through DUO | DUET. After completing the same Foundation section spring semester, the couple started dating during

For more on the Devinats’ startup, go to

Wintersession of their sophomore year. “It might sound cliché,” Meghan admits, “but we knew right away that we had found our soul mates. Our story is truly rooted in a love affair—with each other and with art.” “I remember showing up in the Jewelry + Metalsmithing studio at 2:30 or 3 in the morning,” says Benoit, “and waiting for hours for Meghan to finish up.” A native of France, he decided to study in Paris for a semester senior year, while Meghan completed a program in Pforzheim, Germany, which fortunately was only about five hours away by train. After graduation they both landed jobs at alumni-owned businesses in Providence—Benoit at ITEM New Product Development (now Ximedica), where he worked for 10 years, and Meghan at the jewelry gallery run by Martina Windels MFA 88 JM and then for many years in the local costume jewelry industry. When they got married in 2005, it was at the First Baptist Church on North Main Street, with the reception just up the hill at Woods-Gerry Gallery. “We’re RISD all the way,” Benoit quips. “It’s at the core of everything we do, especially when it comes to critical thinking and design decisions. I’m currently teaching in the ID department and also work with a group of RISD alums at OCTO Product Development in Pawtucket.” While Benoit works to keep DUO | DUET afloat financially, Meghan does most of the hands-on assembly work—when not caring for their three young daughters (in addition to 6-year-old Juliette, Emiline is 3 and Naomi is brand new—see page 79). Their jewelry is available online, at RISD WORKS and (thanks to a successful bid to show at the NY NOW tradeshow last summer) at museum and gallery shops across the country. “As artists I think we’ve always been entrepreneurs at heart, wanting to make our way on our own terms,” notes Meghan. “That’s truly the goal of DUO | DUET.”

After becoming inseparable at RISD, Meghan and Benoit have wanted to collaborate professionally for years—and are now finally doing so through their startup DUO | DUET.



who’s giving to risd and why

Ensuring a Strong Start

“I’d like to see people thrive at RISD based on talent and work ethic as opposed to financial resources.”

not just in terms of tuition but also supplies,” notes well-known artist and designer Shepard Fairey 92 IL. “Given the intense workload, there’s enough stress without having to worry about making ends meet. I’d like to see people thrive at RISD based on talent and work ethic as opposed to financial resources.” With that in mind, Fairey has made a contribution of $60,000 to the RISD Scholars fund to help current and future students benefit from a RISD education. Though he “barely missed qualifying for financial aid” himself, he says that when he was a student he depended on work-study jobs to offset expenses and had several friends who wouldn’t have been able to attend RISD without scholarship support. Fairey also remembers the personal support he received from faculty members like Fred Lynch 86 IL, who still teaches at RISD and taught the editorial illustration course that inspired Fairey’s notorious “Cianci billboard liberation project.” That was the start “ I T COSTS A LOT TO GO TO RI SD



of the Andre the Giant grassroots art campaign that subsequently catapulted him to international fame in the early 1990s. “Fred supported me in the controversial aftermath of that billboard, though many others didn’t,” he says. “That instilled in me a respect for people who are willing to be true friends instead of playing politics.” In addition to his problems with provocative street art, Fairey remembers “a few run-ins with RISD security” that were harmless but amusing. “I worked a lot in the Printmaking building and often wasn’t finished before it closed,” he explains. “So I would sometimes hide until security guards turned off the lights and would then start

For more on Shep, go to and

working again in the dark. One time when I had a light table on in the screenprinting studio, I thought it would be dim enough that I’d avoid detection. But Public Safety officers busted in and though they knew me well, accused me of breaking and entering. “They said that when they came in two things could have happened and if they hadn’t recognized me it would have been the second one. But they forgot to say what either of them were, so threatening people with ‘The Second One’ has become an inside joke with many of my close friends.” Since graduating Fairey has gone on to bring a subversive spirit to his work as a fine artist, graphic designer and entrepreneur. “I doubt that I’m the first mischievous rebel to go to RISD, nor will I be the last,” he notes. His Los Angeles-based creative agency Studio Number One proudly proclaims its dedication “to building and reinforcing bold, disruptive brand narratives across all media,” promising “cultural relevance and authenticity of voice.” Recalling his own trajectory in starting up after graduation, Fairey advises aspiring entrepreneurs to be patient. “It takes time to get traction with a business,” he cautions. “In the beginning (if not forever), you

need to be willing to work long hours. You also need to be flexible in adapting to the changing landscape rather than being too rigid about your original vision. And finally, be collaborative, not competitive. I initially made the mistake of trying to be stubbornly independent, but when I joined forces with people who had more experience I improved much more quickly— at design, art and business.” Earlier this spring, Fairey was busy working on a new book due to be released by Rizzoli in the fall. Called Covert to Overt, it showcases his street art, fine art, mural art and collaborative projects from the last five years. This spring he’s also juggling several public art and gallery projects, including a 15-story mural and art show in Detroit in late May; a seven-story mural for a museum in Malaga, Spain; murals in Berlin and Munich, Germany; and a show of new paintings at the Jacob Lewis Gallery in NYC, which opens in September. Fairey also says he still values and taps into connections he’s made at and through RISD. “I’m friends with several alums in LA, where I live, and in New York, where I frequently travel, so I stay in touch socially. But running into alumni is also unavoidable professionally, which is actually great evidence of the the talent RISD attracts and the quality of education it provides.”

“You need to be flexible in adapting to the changing landscape…. And be collaborative, not competitive.”

New Presidential Scholarship Fund To celebrate the appointment of Rosanne Somerson 76 ID as RISD’s first female alum to serve as president (see page 42), the Board of Trustees has launched a new Rosanne Somerson Presidential Scholars Fund. Additional support is welcomed to help realize her top priority: making RISD accessible to the best and brightest students from diverse communities and economic backgrounds. “When President Somerson was a student here herself, she worked three jobs to help pay for her education,” notes Board Chair Michael Spalter. “Since then she has championed the need for increased scholarship support to bring the most talented students to RISD regardless of their means.”

Let There Be Light This year a core group of graduating seniors relaunched the tradition of contributing a Senior Class Gift. It’s an opportunity both to say “thank you” for the experience and leave something of a legacy behind, note the members of this year’s Senior Campaign Committee: Callie Clayton 17 TX, Emily Hoffman 15 IL, Daniel Kim BArch 15 and Priscilla Tey 15 IL. They’re asking seniors to contribute “$20.15 in honor of our graduation year” (or whatever dollar amount they want) to support a solar lighting installation on Frazier Terrace. The Senior Class Gift is being given in memory of well-loved Public Safety Officer Kris Paglio, who died earlier this year from cancer. “This is an especially important project given K-Pag’s dedication to public safety,” the committee notes. “Lighting Frazier Terrace will truly honor her legacy while making the space safer for students.” Secure gifts may be made online at



undergraduate class notes


668 new grads NY, CA + RI

total # of Class of 2015 graduates starting out in the US (at the bachelor’s degree level)

# of Class of 2015 RISD alumni starting out (bachelor’s + master’s degrees)

top three states with the highest % of arts-related jobs

Todd Verow 89 FAV London

Marcia Patmos 91 AP

Steve Silber MFA 09 SC



Geoffrey Warner 77 PH Maine

Saba Qizilbash MA 04 Dubai

Shawn Greenlee 96 PR

Caity Kennedy 06 PT Santa Fe


Huma Bhabha 85 PR Venice

Anthony Acciavatti BArch 04 Quito, Ecuador

Jenny Lai 10 AP Johannesburg

just more than 1 in 10

eateries + child care services


odds of success for startup businesses (Business Insider, 5.13)

cause of startup failure among 46% of attempts *

startup businesses with the worst/best rates of success (respectively) after year 5 *

$179.4 million $126 million price paid for Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger at Christie’s (5.11.15)

price paid for Giacometti’s 1947–51 bronze sculpture L’homme au doigt at the same auction

$4.62 million

emotional pricing

starting for the wrong reasons

burnout… and pride

top pitfall cited in startup business failure *

AE 22


AP 7


Arch 22

CR 4

DM 1

top leading management mistake cited in

FAV startup FDfailure * GD 16 10 37

GL 8

IA 3

ID 19

amount donated to RISD alumni + students on Kickstarter (2010–15)

4th + 6th leading startup management mistakes *

IL 61

JM 9

LA 7

PH 34

PT 55

PR 19

SC 31

TX 12

* according to Statistic Brain (2.5.15)

Mary (Padykula) Kosowski 49 AD Though Mary retired from teaching many moons ago, she still loves to draw and paint— as is clear from the pieces to the left—and is still active, living in Smithfield, RI. She majored in Advertising Design at RISD— a degree no longer offered—and is looking forward to celebrating her 88th birthday in December.

cards commemorating the 25th anniversary of Square One Theatre in Stratford, CT; to support the community theater, she decided to donate her pen-and-ink and watercolor artwork. Diane teaches watercolor painting for the Bridgeport [CT] Art League, and her own work is on view at Gilded Lily Gallery in Milford, CT, where she lives.

1945 Miriam Beerman PT

(see page 56) Ruth Adler Schnee IA

(see page 18)

1950 In recognition of her 50-plus years as an innovator in home furnishings, the International Furnishings and Design Association named Ruth Clark IA (Jamestown, NC) its 2014 Luminary Award recipient.

Ruth began her career in the early 1960s as an upholstered furniture designer for Drexel and went on to design highly successful lines for Pearson, Dapha and Goldeneye Home Furnishings. In 1995 the IFDA established the Ruth Clark Scholarship, an annual award for furniture design students.

1955 Early Morning by Mary Melikian Haynes PT (NYC) was included in Outside the

Barbara Kahn 62 PT Forty-plus years’ worth of paintings went into The Ancient Oracle Deck and Handbook, which Barbara (Little Switzerland, NC; see also page 4) recently self-published. She used an original painting for each of the 54 cards in the deck and spent years composing, refining and editing the explanations in the accompanying handbook.

Lines: Modernist Drawings, a winter exhibition at the Trask Gallery of the National Arts Club, NYC. Mary’s piece is in the permanent collection.

1959 In his winter solo show Small Works at the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village, CT, Robert Cronin PT exhibited work dating from his senior year at RISD to the mid 1990s: a mix of “things directly from nature, images totally made up, surreal concoctions, color studies, and serious abstractions” in a variety of media on paper. He also showed paintings in Color, Shape & Form II, a five-artist exhibition at Galerie Gris in Hudson, NY from December to February.

associate art director for Columbia Records and served in the US Air Force.

The fall 2015 International Print Triennial in Torun, Poland will feature work by Deena des Rioux IL (NYC) for the fifth time. Deena’s work will be shown alongside the work of an artist of her choice.

1962 In March paintings by recently deceased artist Suzanne D’Avanzo PT/MAE 70 (see page 87) were included in a four-person exhibition at Providence’s Chazan Gallery.

1963 Diane Podrat Byer AE was commissioned to create holiday

Roberta (Hopkins) Ayotte 58 TX Roberta (Sun City, AZ) recently completed this custom handwoven wall hanging. Called To the Points (45 x 58"), it relies on an overlay technique she developed and incorporates more than 200 yarns and colors.

Joe Kuszai GD (East Lansing,

MI) writes that he is retiring from Michigan State University after 50 years of service. He is responsible for creating the school’s graphic design program, which he headed for more than 25 years, and his accomplishments during that time are many: his proposal to Apple in 1984 secured the first Mac lab for a major university, and his graduates hold important positions in education, industry and private design practice. In addition to his long career at MSU, Joe was formerly an Please email class notes submissions to:



Anne Connors Winner 69 TX/MAT 71 Based in Suffern, NY, Ann took inspiration from nature for the mixed-media painting/ collage work she showed in three spring exhibitions: a solo show at Cottage Place Gallery at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood [NJ], Art of Healing at Englewood [NJ] Hospital and a group show at the Piermont [NY] Fine Arts Gallery.

In celebration of the 375th anniversary of Southampton, NY, Dinah Maxwell Smith PT presented scenes of Southampton life in Time and Again, an early May solo show at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum. Her paintings were also on

view in the Holiday Invitational at Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor, NY. When filmmaker John Thornton spotted jewelry by Thomas Norton PT (Cambridge, MA) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he was so intrigued

1964 In February Peter Devries PT showed recent paintings— still lifes, landscapes and a selfportrait in oil on linen—at the Rochester [NY] Friends Meeting Library in his hometown.


I was painting large canvases with oils and doing fine-line pencil drawings, etchings and intaglio. You could describe my work as proliferating biomorphism. But I was never very happy with my “brushstroke.” I could never find a way of painting that really pleased me. I was always painting forms that seemed to be leaving the canvas—or wishing that I could attach something to the canvas—so when I finally came to rope, it seemed to be the solution I was seeking. I actually found rope through a series of “aha” moments, starting with a fiber exhibition at MoMA in the early 1970s, which was more exciting than any painting exhibition I had ever seen. Unsatisfied with painting, I started doing things like inserting strips of torn bed sheet into my canvases or cutting the painted shapes right out of the canvas. I experimented with layers of sheer fabrics and with deconstructing canvas. I experimented with cardboard, window screening, chicken wire, wood. At the same time, I had this idea of creating a visual music. I drew a grid on heavy vellum and inserted black threads at certain intervals. Then I tried the same thing by painting string and inserting it in canvas. RISDXYZ

In addition to operating aaaForay (, his design consultancy in Rehoboth, MA, George teaches at the New England Institute of Technology. He recently developed a series of 25 sketches he calls the Pills Collection, building on a theme he established in a series of small acrylic studies in 2013 – titled My Really Important Life Collection.

David Estey PT (Belfast, ME) captures affectionate memories of his childhood in Aroostook County, ME—along with reminiscences and commentary about his years at RISD, EHP, “the army, IRS, the news

media, the South”—in his humorous memoir Whoop and Drive ’er! (Maine Authors Publishing, 2014). David’s

by Elaine (Mendolia) Longtemps 63 IL



George Delany 69 GD

I had my next “aha” moment when I climbed a flight of old wooden stairs to a dumpy little back room gallery to see the work of Eva Hesse, which blew my mind. My final “aha” moment was after seeing a small exhibition of dance notation at Hunter College, after which a friend took me to see a show of new music notation at the Metropolitan Opera House. I realized then that what I had been trying to do was not impossible. Working off the canvas in twisted pieces has been very challenging because it’s sculptural, which is really difficult for someone who worked two-dimensionally for so many years. Also, I like to work large but I find that there’s a limit to the size I can work in with twisted rope since it’s very heavy. Based in Brooklyn, Elaine creates powerful sculptural pieces such as Trail of Tears/The Long Walk and Methane Migration, which were featured in FOCUS: Fiber 2014 at the Erie [PA] Art Museum (September – January). She has also exhibited recently at Narthex Gallery and Denise Bibro Gallery, both in NYC; at Aljira in Newark, NJ; and in Fiber Fever at the Foundry Art Centre in Saint Charles, MO.

For more on Elaine’s work, go to

left: photos by Michael Hnatov Photography

1963 continued

that he made the documentary Tom Norton, Art & Invention. The 51-minute video details his early innovations in electronic printmaking—he created one of the first books ever made on a computer—and other aspects of Tom’s eclectic creative life.

the Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Mean. The Maine-based artist showed recent watercolors and drawings last winter at the Camden [ME] Library and gave a talk about his work in January. In recognition of her contributions to the arts, New Hampshire Business Review magazine named Pamela Resch Tarbell AE (pamtarbell. com) one of six outstanding women in business for 2015. Pam directs the Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Concord, NH, and devotes many hours to volunteer work promoting visual arts.

1968 Laurie Whitehill Chong 70 IL In September 1915, a hurricane stranded Laurie’s grandparents in a stone hut near the summit of Mount Washington, NH. Before retiring last year from her position as Special Collections Librarian and curator of Artists’ Books at RISD, she devoted a sabbatical year to researching and documenting that dramatic adventure for Snow Bound in September: A Re-Imagining, a limited-edition artist’s book fashioned after her grandfather’s hiking guide. Laurie’s linocuts tell the story of survival from the perspective of both her grandfather— whose written account conveys a “hearty masculine sense of adventure”—and her grandmother, whose experience she imagines.

vintage-style drawings and paintings illustrate the book, which is available on Amazon.

1965 50th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015 Rick Shnitzler AR* (Philadelphia) was pleased to share the news that The Philadelphia Inquirer published Wheels of Diplomacy (1.12.2015), an article by Michael Matza detailing Rick’s ongoing work to improve US-Cuba relations through a universal interest in classic cars.

1966 When he inherited the modernist Portland, OR house built in 1948 by his father, Pietro

Belluschi, Anthony Belluschi BArch undertook an extensive restoration and expansion project that honored the original design while bringing the home into the 21st century. Architectural Record (2.15) featured the stunning project, which captured the 2013 DeMuro Award from Restore Oregon. For Witness Us: Holocaust Reflections, Marji Greenhut CR (Brunswick, ME) created 50 sculptures to “capture the shadows and echoes of the millions murdered at Auschwitz and Birkenau and in many other world holocausts since then.” The month-long exhibition at the Maine Jewish

Kenn Speiser 68 SC Tra-La-La (back view) is among the graphic, geometric wood sculptures featured in 30 Years: Martiesian, Speiser & Bert, a March show that kicked off a yearlong 30th anniversary celebration at Bert Gallery in Providence. Kenn, who notes that “this is not angst-ridden work,” exhibited with fellow alum Paula Martiesian 76 PT (see page 68).

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Museum in Portland opened on November 9 in commemoration of Kristallnacht. Karen Moss PT (Brookline, MA) participated in Society in Upheaval, a three-person show at Princeton University’s Bernstein Gallery. The winter exhibition was sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Ann Wheeler Saunderson PT

showed new abstract paintings last fall in Celebrating Our Local Talent, a group exhibition at Mill Brook Gallery in Concord, NH. She lives in nearby Loudon.

1967 An original member of the VideoFreex, an underground guerilla television collective, Mary Curtis Ratcliff AE

(Berkeley, CA) is one of 10 members featured in Videofreex: The Art of Guerrilla Television, which continues through July 12 at the Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, NY. The exhibition surveys the history and mythology of the group, which produced and disseminated alternative media across New York and other US communities during the 1970s. Earlier this year Mary also showed work in A Common Thread at Mercury 20 Gallery in Oakland, CA.

Several pieces by Nancy Lasar PT (Washington, CT)—three small color etchings and two monotypes—were selected for Prints from VanDeb Editions, an exhibition mounted last October at Gallery Ami-Kanoko in Osaka, Japan. Her work was also featured in last fall’s Wild Woods and Whirligig Girls at AIR Gallery in Brooklyn, and in Works x Women, a group show held in April at VanDeb Editions in Long Island City, NY.

1969 Raku, a new poetry chapbook by Ed Baranosky PT (Toronto), won high praise from broken reviewer Jon Sasaki: “Baranosky’s poetry radiates an effortless luminescence, but one that belies his studied craftsmanship” and his deep knowledge of traditional Asian poetry. Some of Ed’s marine paintings can be spotted in

October Gale, a 2014 thriller starring Patricia Clarkson. Earlier this year Bruce Helander IL/MFA 72 PT exhi-

bited in Elvis in Palm Beach, a solo show of recent work at Arcature Fine Art in Palm Beach, FL. Rhythms of Nature, a winter exhibition at the Mendocino [CA] Art Center, featured abstract and realistic paintings by California-based artist Rachel Lahn PT (abstractart Last fall and winter Judith Unger SC (St. Johnsbury, VT) showed figurative clay sculptures in Amore at Studio Arts Center in Barre, VT; Protinus at Dacia Gallery, NYC; and Vision benefit and gala at Pier 60, also in NYC.

1970 45th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015

Providence-based artist Meris Barreto AE ( took first place in 3D for her bronze filament piece Ikebana Sleeve: Life Flux at the Newport [RI] Art Museum’s Annual Members’ Juried Exhibition 2015, which was on view through May 17. Adelson Galleries Boston hosted Familiar Faces, a solo show of recent figurative paintings by Andrew Stevovich PT (Northborough, MA), in February and March. In March and April the exhibition was on view at Adelson Galleries New York.

Elizabeth Ginsberg 64 PT The new book REFLECTIONS: A Survey of Prints by Elizabeth Ginsberg (12 Mile Press, June 2015) features 95 images of her work. Elizabeth ( is also exhibiting in two concurrent shows from May 22–August 14: Altered Images: Creativity Beyond the Lens at the Virginia Block Gallery and Water/Color at the SMI Gallery, both in Montclair, NJ (near her home base in West Orange).

In his vibrant new paintings, John Silverio BArch (silverio looks to pyramid and roof forms as a way to explore form, shadow and color, with progressions based on SPRING/SUMMER 2015


July he’ll be at Jentel in Wyoming. Richard’s work was selected for the group show Abstract Language, which was on view in February and March at ArtSpace Maynard [MA]. Reviewers raved about the mix of metallics, furs and feathers in the fall/winter 2015 collection designer and RISD trustee Nicole Miller AP presented at New York Fashion Week in February. Women’s Wear Daily called it “a flirty lineup of dresses and separates featuring plenty to wear for the girl who’s not afraid of embellishment,” while Hollywood Life summed up “every look [as] beautiful and unique.”

1974 Jamie Dalglish FAV (NYC)

Shelley Lake 76 IL Earlier this year Shelley showed her digital prints Modern Family (above) and Homeland at the Lighthouse ArtCenter Museum and Gallery in Jupiter, FL and at the Von Liebig Art Center in Naples, FL. Hell in Heels was also included in the April Artexpo New York at Pier 94 in NYC and her 3D print Yoda was chosen for a February show at the Orlando [FL] Museum of Art. Shelley lives in Longwood, FL.

1971 Ruth Davis PT (Providence)

has built her career on promoting creative businesses and organizations through her firm Ruth Davis Associates ( In advance of the opening of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum last May, she worked with the museum and Thinc Design, the lead exhibition design firm, to get headlines for the monumental project. Her efforts secured coverage in The New York Times, Wired, Architectural Record and many other publications. Ruth has since worked with Thinc to promote its design of the US Pavilion at the 2015 World Expo, which is taking place in Milan through October. 68


Rounding out a good year, both Jim Estes BArch and Peter Twombly BArch 80— of Estes/Twombly Architects in Newport, RI—earned a 2014 award from the AIA’s RI chapter: Jim for a house on Ninigret Pond in Charlestown, RI and Peter for a freestanding artists’ studio built adjacent to a turn-of-the-century house in Jamestown, RI.

Joan Waltemath 76 PT Working with hand-ground pigments and graphite and carefully composing her abstract paintings, Joan – who directs MICA’s Hoffberger School of Painting – sometimes works for years on a single piece. In February and March she presented recent work in two solo shows: One does not negate the other at Hionas Gallery in NYC and In the Absence of Grief at C. Grimaldis Gallery in Baltimore.

she explains. “I’ve felt compelled to record it year after year in all seasons and times of the day.” She exhibited new paintings from this ongoing exploration last fall in Changes: Landscapes, a solo show at URI’s Main Gallery.

reports that his work has been Art Restoration, a feature story in a few great group shows in the February/March issue recently, including the of American Craft, focuses on SideShow group exhibition renowned studio glass artist Circling the Wagons, December- Therman Statom SC (Omaha, March in Brooklyn, and Small NE), who continues to make Works, March-May at Baruch “dreamlike, enigmatic sculpCollege, NYC. One of the tures” and is known for his exhibitions—All | Together | generosity in donating “his Different, a survey of Lower time and talents to hospitals, East Side artists held in the schools and communities.” neighborhood’s Manny Cantor In the story, fellow glass artist Center—was featured on a New Toots Zynsky 73 SC points York PBS program in March. out that “Therman’s enormous Since 1983 Ida Schmulowitz PT (Providence) has painted large-scale landscapes from the same bridge overlooking I-195 in Providence. “I feel a very strong bond to this particular place (India Point),”

Gail Whitsitt-Lynch PH

(see page 3)

1973 Two separate residency awards are taking Richard Kattman BLA (Holliston, MA) in different directions this spring and summer: he’s spending May at La Macina di San Cresci in Greve, Italy, and in June and

Please email class notes submissions to:

creative and physical energy with his work has always inspired everyone around him and probably pushed us all to do more and better.” Rory F. Marcaccio Schaffer AE/MAE 79 showed paintings

last fall at the Lorton [VA] Art Center and in Recent Works, a group exhibition at Fairfax Station [VA] Railroad Museum. An adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, she also teaches 3D media in Fairfax County, VA.

Paula Martiesian 76 PT Summer Shadows is among the nature-inspired paintings featured in 30 Years: Martiesian, Speiser & Bert, a March show that kicked off this year’s 30th anniversary celebration at Bert Gallery in Providence. Paula is based in Rhode Island and exhibited with fellow alum Kenn Speiser 68 SC (see page 67).

Although she’s no longer teaching at RISD, former Foundation Studies faculty member Wendy Seller AE (Newtonville, MA) was “happily surprised” that so many students and faculty visited the four-person show she participated in at Providence’s Chazan Gallery earlier this year. She showed her most recent mixed-media digital collages.

1975 40th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015

1976 Carolyn Gowdy IL (London)

created the illustrations for The Christmas Lunch, a “weird and wonderful” short story by Nina Stibbe that was published in the December 2014 issue of Spectator magazine.

1977 Karen Rand Anderson CR

( has been focusing on mixed-media landscape explorations that were exhibited recently in Seeking Place, a solo exhibition at Van Vessem Gallery in Tiverton, RI, and in the group show Eclecticism at Cate Charles Gallery in Providence, where she lives. She also showed a mix of new and older work in Reaching for Beauty, her April solo show at Coastal Living Gallery in Wickford, RI. Roz Chast PT (Ridgefield, CT)

made it to the New York Times’ coveted top-10 books list for 2014 with Can’t We Talk About Something More PLEASANT?, her “devastating and sublime” graphic memoir about her parents’ end-of-life years. The deeply personal memoir also

Eva Kwong 75 CR In conjunction with the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts conference in Providence, Eva’s piece Kermes was included in the 2015 NCECA Biennial at Brown University’s Bell Gallery (January–March). Earlier this spring her work was featured in Women to Watch: Ohio, sponsored by the National Museum of Women Artists and held at Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery. Based in Kent, OH, Eva also had two recent solo shows: at Louisiana College in Pineville (February– March) and at River Oaks Art Center in Alexandria, LA (February–April).

earned her a National Book Award nomination—a rare feat for a graphic novel (see more big news on page 19).

Think ahead.

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>M  ake a gift that literally costs you nothing now yet helps generations of art and design students in the future.

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> Get a tax deduction and a monthly paycheck for life in return for your gift.

Contact Jennifer Salisbury, Leadership Giving, at or 401 454-6432.

Katherine Kean 78 FAV Katherine’s oil painting I Stop for Drops is one of two of her pieces selected for inclusion in the first National Weather Center Biennale, a juried exhibition on view through June 14 at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Based in Tujunga, CA, she often captures breathtaking transitions in nature in her paintings (


Daniel Reiser 78 CR The Buckminster Fuller Institute engaged Daniel’s Brooklyn studio, DR Design, to oversee the redesign and construction of this Fly’s Eye dome—a 24-foot-in-diameter reiteration of one of Fuller’s last structural prototypes—for a high-end retail site in Miami. In collaboration with Seth Wiseman MArch 09 (Boston) of ConFormLab and Goetz Composites in Bristol, RI, he evolved Fuller’s original prototype to comply with county building codes and integrated it into a complex redevelopment of the city’s Design District. The gleaming, semi-transparent dome “remains true to the geometry and scale of the original structure, which Fuller conceived as an ‘autonomous dwelling machine’ for portable and affordable shelter,” Daniel explains.

1977 continued


Ricker Winsor PH/MFA 78 PH

Karen Hackenberg PT (Port Townsend, WA) continues to make a clear point about human abuse of the natural world, showing her paintings of litter amid lush landscapes in Karen Hackenberg: Watershed at the Bainbridge Island [WA] Museum of Art; the exhibition ran from October–February. Two of her paintings are on view through June 14 in Neo-Naturalists, a group show

(Bali, Indonesia) is a major contributor at Empty Mirror Books (, and maintains a regular blog: Visit to see his recently improved display of paintings, drawings and photographs. Geoffrey Warner PH

(see page 15) 70


at the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner, WA.

Flowers in the Factory, a spring solo show at the Newport [RI] Art Museum, presented an ongoing study of the history of the textile industry by Deborah Baronas TX (Barrington, RI). Her piece Tying was included in NorEaster National Juried Show in January at the New Britain [CT] Museum of American Art, and in the 2014 Biennial Members Exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA. In the Air, Deborah’s new series on tap dancing, is on view through June 2 in Transparencies at Providence’s VETS Gallery.

Paintings from Origination, the second installment of the New Mythologies series by Valerie Hird PT (valeriehird. com), were on view in December and January at NH Galeria in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. At the same time, her work was shown in Crossing the Line: Drawing in the Middle East 2 at the Global Center for Drawing in North Melbourne, Australia, and in March she contributed work to The Rebirth of Cool, a group show at the Studios of Key West, FL.

Though she has worked in television since the 1980s, Ilene Chaiken GD (Studio City, CA) can’t remember a better experience than working with an all-black cast as executive producer of Empire, the Fox series that ended its first season this spring on a high note. “There was a sense that we were doing something that hadn’t been done before,” she told Variety. Chaiken first made a name for herself in 2004 as co-creator of The L Word, the hugely popular Showtime series about a circle of lesbians living in Los Angeles.

Everything Happens at the Same Time, a solo show of work by Rhonda Wall PT (rhonda, was on view in early March in Spring/Break Art Show at Skylight at Moynihan Station in NYC.

In March 2014 Francisco Viri IL (Pampanga, Philippines) had a solo show titled One Liners at the Crucible Gallery at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. The exhibition featured drawings that high-

light the use of lines as a basic element of his works.

1980 35th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015 Leah Reynolds PR explains

the double meaning in my new haunt, her winter installation of luminous constructions at 110 Church Gallery in Philadelphia (where she lives): haunt “refers to the physical/psychic place that I inhabit while working on a particular project. It is also meant to signify the thing that haunts me—in this case not a ghost, but a very specific 10-year-old boy who has endured difficult times.”

David Wiesner 78 IL After rising to the pinnacle of the picture book profession, David is having fun charting new ground via digital storytelling. In February Houghton Mifflin released Spot, his first iPad adventure, which allows kids to explore a series of ever-smaller on-screen microcosms. The Philadelphia-based author/illustrator is now working on a new picture book as well as a graphic novel for an older audience.

Laraine Armenti 80 PR Green Apple is among the selection of still-lifes and interiors in oil Laraine (Ashland, MA) exhibited in February at Miss Porter’s School’s Gilbert Gallery in Farmington, CT.

Learning to readjust to family life with a new troubled child at home, Leah says that “this installation has been both my response and my refuge.” As an art therapist, psychodrama trainer, mental health counselor and artist in Lowell, MA, Jean Winslow IL* runs a variety of workshops on incorporating creativity into personal and professional life.

1981 LA-based conceptual artist Miyoshi Barosh PT has won 2015 COLA and Guggenheim fellowships to pursue a new body of work in glass, building on work created during a 2014 residency at Pilchuk Glass School. After recently branching out into acting, Peter Buchman IL has already made a name for

himself with Seaman, a 2014 short by Kazim Karaismailoglu. The dark comedy—about a lonely man on a boat whose “only escape valve is pumping up a doll”—has been selected for festivals around the world, including the Berlin Film Festival and Cannes Underground, and has taken multiple honors for filmmaker and short film of the year. Peter also played an artist in a Prudential insurance ad and emerged victorious on an episode of Flea Market Flip. In his off-screen life, he has shown paintings

Aliza (Klipstein) Augustine 78 PT In the recent collaborative show How to Spot One of Us, Aliza presented works from her ongoing series Documenting the 2nd Generation: Children of Survivors of the Holocaust—photographic portraits that speak of memory, history and loss. Film and poetry by Janet R. Kirchheimer complemented her work, which was on view from January to May at Kean University’s Human Rights Institute Gallery in Union, NJ. Aliza lives in West New York, NJ.

Please email class notes submissions to:

recently at Vered Gallery in his hometown of East Hampton, NY, and with Kidder Smith Gallery at the 2014 Santa Fe [NM] Art Fair. David Hodge ID (Princeton

by the Sea, CA) collaborated with Hi-Jin Kang Hodge and the Nobel Museum on Legacy, a 16-channel video installation that’s on view through November at the gallery in Stockholm. Examining “what we leave behind,” the project presents video interviews with Nobel laureates discussing the importance of legacies, both personal and professional. Paintings on wood by Fred Lisaius IL ( were on view in April in Arbor Vitae, a solo show at the Patricia Rovzar Gallery in Seattle. He lives in nearby Bellevue, WA.

Salley Mavor 78 IL In March C&T Publishing released Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, Salley’s long-awaited follow-up to Felt Wee Folk. The charmingly illustrated how-to guide provides instructions, templates and sourcing tips for the dolls and scenes used in the signature fabric relief sculptures she makes in her Cape Cod home studio, many of which are photographed for use in children’s books.

Jennifer Orkin-Lewis TX

(see pages 96–97) Boston-based architect Robert Schaeffner BArch has been

inducted into the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows, one of the most prestigious honors in the field.

Working for the international firm Payette since 1981, he has led the expansion into research facility work and designed buildings and labs for a wide range of academic institutions, including Princeton University and the College of Wooster, winning numerous awards along the way.



Julie Dargis Phillips 85 IL All proceeds from Counting on Chicks, which Julie (Fulton, MD) illustrated and co-wrote with Julie Kaplan, are going to Heifer International. Taking inspiration from the global hunger relief organization, the pair crafted an appealing story that “demonstrates the importance of giving in a way young children can understand and model,” she explains.

1982 Fascinated by “the distance between people and the separateness that can exist in

William Rae 82 PH Relic #5 is among the fine-art woodturning work William ( showed in the 71st annual Connecticut Artists Juried Exhibition, held in February and March at the Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, CT, close to where he lives in Groton. His work was also on view from October through January in the 2014 Biennial Members Exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA.

relationships,” Linda Kosoff PT ( uses scale (and sometimes diptychs/ triptychs) to highlight aloneness in her narrative paintings. One of her paintings was on view in November and December in The Aurora Holiday Show, a juried show of the Los Angeles Art Association, and she was one of 20 local artists chosen for the 2014 LA vs NY feature in Artist Portfolio Magazine (issue 15). Frances Middendorf IL (Rome, Italy) and William Middendorf showed Work on Paper together from January to February at Downing Yudain in North Stamford, CT.

Gail Greenwood 85 IL Gail ( created colorful illustrations to highlight innovations in treatment and care for the calendar her partner Chill Mott designed for Boston Children’s Hospital. In music news, she reports that they’re “still playing!—believe it or not” in their band Benny Sizzler (bennysizzler. com). Gail, who’s based in Middletown, RI, also recently reunited with Tanya Donelly and Belly for a few gigs in New England. She, Chill and their sidekicks Bear Bear and Maurice were spotlighted on the PBS Kids’ show Martha Speaks, as part of a series by Geoff Adams 83 FAV about working dogs.

1983 Genevieve Antoine-Dorang PH (Orangeville, PA) writes that she “has, lately, been working with discarded and recyclable material.” Last fall she exhibited in Waste Not, a group show at the ArtSpace Gallery in Bloomsburg, PA.

1984 Starting with mundane objects and materials—sticks, nail polish, doll parts—Claudia Flynn SC (South Kingstown, RI) creates sculptural assemblages that evoke “a living presence…. They are sacred, haunted and precious things,” wrote a reviewer for ARTSCOPE (November/December 2014). Her solo show Solemnities was on view at the Newport [RI] Art Museum from September to January. Glenn Gissler BArch (Brooklyn

Heights, NY) has been 72


recognized for his design work recently: the New York Metro American Society of Interior Design (ASID) selected him for its 2014 Inspired Designer Award, and NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) named him a Garden Design Honoree. Self Portrait as Satan was among the oils on canvas Steven Kenny IL (St. Petersburg, FL) exhibited in The Black Paintings, a January solo show at the University of South Florida’s Centre Gallery. The exhibition focused on “the visual and thematic effects of depression on my artistic expression,” he explains. Colleen Kiely PT (Medford, MA) had two drawings in Works on Paper, a group show held last October at the South Shore Arts Center in Cohasset, MA. Her dog Beau enjoyed the extra publicity of appearing

on the exhibition card. She is also pleased to announce that her work is included in MDC, a limited-edition book published in honor of gallery owner and artist representative Mario Diacono. Earlier this spring, Fotini Vurgaropulou SC (Brooklyn)

showed a series of glass pieces exploring “the emotionality of music and memory” at the New Century Gallery in NYC.

1985 30th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015

Author/illustrator Mary Jane Begin IL, who teaches at RISD, has launched a new online course on called The Elements of Composition for Illustrators. Outside In, an early spring show at Third Floor Gallery at Rusk in NYC, featured work by

Stephen Burt IL (Biddeford,

John Fazzino 86 CR

ME) and RISD professors Fritz Drury and Elinor Hollinshead.

Laminabolitio is one of three pieces John showed in March when the annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference took place in Providence (where he lives). His work was selected for the juried exhibitions Earth Elements at the Providence Art Club and Honoring the Ceramic Tradition at Spring Bull Gallery in Newport, RI. Thousands of ceramics enthusiasts from across the country reveled in the best of contemporary clay work during the popular national event.

Eclectic, colorful paintings by Talin Megherian PT— narrative pieces that give voice to the memories of her family and Armenian women—were featured from December to March in Kiss the Ground, a solo show at The Cambridge School of Weston [MA]. One of her pieces was also included in a winter group show of contemporary Armenian artists at the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, MA (where she lives). Poulin + Morris (poulinmorris. com), the NYC design consultancy where Douglas Morris GD is a principal, created a branding and environmental graphics program for the new athletics and wellness center at Convent of the Sacred Heart, the oldest independent school for girls in Manhattan. Last November Patrick J. Hamilton GD (askpatrick. did his second stint with Holiday House NYC, an annual designer show house

to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The room he designed featured a photo by Jill Greenberg 89 PH (see page 74), on loan from New York’s ClampArt gallery. Patrick was also pleased to participate in the fourth RISDiversity: Community Narratives Project ( When fashion designer Tina Melo AP returned to the US after living in Germany for 20 years, she was surprised to learn how few creative outlets there were for public school

Trine Giæver 87 IL Threshhold is among the subtle one- and two-color prints depicting figures and cityscapes included in Within Façades, a fall 2014 solo show at Pleiades Gallery in NYC. Trine (Piermont, NY) also exhibited a distinctly different body of work in the same show: vibrantly colored paintings of street scenes and interiors in NYC.

kids. She is now running Melo International, an after-school apparel design program for children as young as five, in her Lincoln, RI studio.

1986 Plant with Window, a recent painting by Bill Hudders PT (Easton, MA), was included in the April Spring Group Show at Schmidtberger Fine Art in Frenchtown, NJ.

1987 Nicole Eisenman PT (NYC) was one of 17 international artists with work featured in the MoMA survey show The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, which ran from December to April. The exhibition also included recent paintings by Julie Mehretu MFA 97 PT/PR

and Laura Owens 92 PT (see page 74). Brian Kane PT (Cambridge,

MA) and Michael Oatman 86 PT (Troy, NY) created nothing short of The 8th Wonder of the World for Nuit Blanche Toronto in October 2014. Inviting festival-goers along on “a different kind of journey,” the artists promised “novel sonic realms and unexpected visions” in the humble surroundings of the city’s Union Station.

two-minute, single-channel projection addresses the “seeming polarities between western ideas of modernization, versus the skeletal foundation of an ancient eastern cultural legacy.” Isa Freeling wrote a warm review of Farsad’s mosaic-style portrait work for the Huffington Post (2.3.15). Lorelei Pepi IL (see page 18) Elaine Simons JM (Renton, WA) is currently teaching K-5 art at Hawthorne Elementary School—in the most diverse zip code in the US, with nearly 60 different languages spoken. She notes that her school takes pride in integrating art into its STEM curriculum to make STEAM.

1988 Marcie Karp JM is currently

making costumes and assisting

with set design for the Savannah [GA] Children’s Theatre. She also has a few illustrated children’s books in the works. John Ruggieri PT* showed

14 Watermarks—watercolors “about literally going with the flow”—in TEEM, a winter group show at Providence’s GRIN Gallery. His work is also hosted online by America Dural design studio in Cambridge, MA, near where he lives in Boston.

Huma Bhabha 85 PR Huma (Poughkeepsie, NY) is among the 136 artists from 53 countries whose work is included in the 56th international Biennale di Venezia, which opened on May 9 and continues through November 22. Curated by Okwui Enwezor, this year’s exhibition is called All the World’s Futures.

Inheritance, Rise or Fall (2014), a video by Farsad Labbauf BID (Jersey City, NJ), was included in the Perception exhibition at the Edinburgh [UK] Iranian Festival in February. The Please email class notes submissions to:



Laura Owens 92 PT

Todd Verow 89 FAV

In February Kimberly Becker

Todd and James Kleinmann were married on June 7, 2014 in a grand celebration at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. Having made more than 25 feature films, Todd is currently shooting his latest, This Side of Heaven. James is an actor and film publicist. They divide their time between New York City and London.

TX ( did

1989 A figurative painting by Christine Casarsa PT (Great Barrington, MA) was featured in circle round, a group show held last winter at the Knox Gallery at Monterey [MA] Library. Arresting geometric banners by Karen Gelardi PT (South Portland, ME) were included in the early spring group show Some Assembly Required at the Curator Gallery in NYC. Photographer Jill Greenberg PH blurred the line between photography and painting by exhibiting large-scale photos of her own experimental paintings in a winter solo show at ClampArt in NYC, where she lives. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Booklovers’ Gourmet, the independent bookstore, coffee house and gift shop that 74


Debra Ostrokolowicz Horan IL

opened in Webster, MA in 1995. She is proud to offer a lively series of art and literary events at the inviting space; in addition to new and used books, Debra stocks pottery, home and garden décor, local art and jewelry. Working meticulously in acrylic on paper, So Yoon Lym PT (North Haledon, NJ) documents the complex hair braiding patterns she sees on teenagers in her area. Her paintings are on view through June 28 in Salon Style at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where earlier this year they were featured in the Harlem Postcards series. So Yoon also exhibited in 7 ½ Heads, a winter show at Palette Gallery/ ArtsSpace in Asbury Park, NJ.

1990 25th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015

a residency at Brush Creek Arts in Saratoga, WY. Currently pursuing her MFA at Heartwood College of Art in Biddeford, ME, she used the time to continue developing her body of stitched and French-knotted paintings. Sketches by Franklin Einspruch IL (; see also page 5) were included in The Sketchbook Show, held in January at Nave Gallery Annex in Somerville, MA. He presented his poetic watercolor comics at the RI Independent Publishing Expo in March and the Maine Comics Arts Festival in May and has also been writing art criticism, working to bring “clarity and profluence” to an obfuscated genre. Franklin recently reviewed Mark Rothko, Goya and Lester Johnson shows for The Arts Fuse, Boston’s online arts magazine—which also featured his photographs and story about Illuminus, the city’s first nuit blanche. Scott Stowell GD is going

for full disclosure with Design for People, a new book that

In the January 5 issue of The New Yorker, critic Peter Schjeldahl singled out Untitled (2013, Flashe paint, synthetic polymer paint and oil stick on canvas, 11’ 5 3/8” x 9’ 11 7/8”) as his “favorite work” in the MoMA survey show The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, which ran from December 14–April 5 and also featured work by two other alumni: Julie Mehretu MFA 97 PT/PR and Nicole Eisenman 87 PT. “The quicksilver Owens contributes two rather precious new works—bagatelles, really—that feature perfunctory touches of paint on silkscreened reproductions.” He calls this huge painting from MoMA’s permanent collection “almost off-handedly majestic and preternaturally charming…. It suggests Polke mistaking himself for Joan Miro.”

“takes the risk of exposing the entire design process, the good and the bad.” The Kickstarted undertaking goes behind the scenes with some of the biggest projects he’s taken on with Open (, his NYC design studio—and talks with everyone involved, from clients, interns and vendors to end users.

1991 Carolina Arentsen IL

(Providence) was one of three artists to show in Pour & Scratch, an exhibition held last October at the Coastal Living Gallery on the harbor in Wickford, RI. For the last two summers Rebecca Chamberlain AP

(Brooklyn) has been an artistin-residence at The Fifth Season, a psychiatric facility in the Netherlands that “uses art in an attempt to open up the world of psychiatry and battle the stigma attached to it.” Now, as an ambassador for the Beautiful Distress Foundation,

she’s promoting the first international artist residency program inspired by the Dutch facility. In October she presented her work from the Netherlands at a reception for Beautiful Distress at the Society of Illustrators Gallery in NYC. At Having It All, her November show at Heller Gallery in NYC, Liz Collins TX/MFA 99 (Brooklyn) debuted new work—an “electric hybrid of art and design,” she explains. Lavish lamps and chairs made collaboratively with Harry Allen were featured among the art pieces and home textiles. Liz has also been working with textile producers in Peru to make “make super soft, warm, vibrant blankets,” and in Italy to fabricate “lush, intricate fabric paintings that are unabashedly Fiber Art.” For the mixed-media work in her second solo show at Station Independent Projects,

Richard Barlow 92 PT Last summer Richard traveled to the UK to document Lacock Abbey, the site of the first silver negative photograph, Reflected Trees by William Henry Fox Talbot. His piece Pixelated Bromide, a large-scale sequin drawing based on Fox Talbot’s famous photograph, was recently installed as part of the permanent collection of the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis. P1020786.jpg, another large sequin drawing inspired by the trip, was shown in Drawing Discourse, a winter exhibition at UNC Asheville. In December Richard had a solo exhibition titled A View of the Copse at CANO Oneonta in Oneonta, NY, where he lives.

Katherine Daniels PT (NYC) combined elements of painting, sculpture and craft into vivid, tactile compositions. Material Abstractions was on view at the Manhattan gallery in April and May.

and the structure that once was.” You’ll be able to glimpse it over the next two years from several vantage points: Amtrak and Metro-North commuter trains, nearby hiking trails and roads on both sides of the river.

Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Melissa McGill SC (Beacon, NY) is working on transforming the ruins of the turn-of-the-20th-century Bannerman Castle in the Hudson River into a magical outdoor planetarium. She plans to complete Constellation (melissamcgillconstellation. com) this summer, installing glass globes with solar-powered LEDs to illuminate “the castle structure still standing

Transitory Space, an ongoing series of manipulated photographic works by Leah Oates IL (Brooklyn), “deals with urban and natural locations that are transforming due to the passage of time, altered natural conditions and a continual human imprint,” she explains. The work has been featured in several recent exhibitions— at Materia Gallery in Rome, The Center for Book Arts in NYC and the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of

SoHyun Bae 90 PT For the powerful paintings in Wrapped Shards, a solo show on view through June 6 at RH Contemporary Art in NYC (where she lives), SoHyun combined elements of Jewish mysticism with references to Korean feminine identity. In metaphorically wrapping pieces of broken vessels in rice paper—referencing both the “mystery of the breaking of the vessels” and the historical Korean practice of bojagi— she attempts to wrestle with the reasons for suffering in the world.

Pennsylvania. Her work has also recently appeared in VASA Journal on Images and Culture, Artvoices Magazine (March 2015) and Spry Literary Journal #4, to name a few.

After working as an editor at Martha Stewart Living for almost two decades, Jodi Levine PT now runs Super Make It, a startup based on “extraordinary craft ideas from everyday supermarket items.” Marcia Patmos AP Her latest book, Paper Good (see page 15) Projects, is due out in August, following last year’s yummy In switching from oils to acrylic, Candy Aisle Crafts. and veering away from parallel lines, painter Mel Prest PT New quilt work by Denyse says “suddenly everything was Schmidt GD (— on the table again. The small along with old favorites from act of making lines intersect her collection—can be seen made the work more alive and through October in Denyse glitchy and eventually eccentric.” Schmidt: In the Making, She showed her new work last Historic Inspirations/New fall in MoonBrightChime, a solo Quilts. The 18th-century exhibition at Galleri Urbane in houses of the Wilton [CT] Dallas. Recent group shows Historical Society provide a include Territory of Abstraction, fitting backdrop for the exhibiFebruary–April at Pentimenti tion. In February Denyse Gallery in Philadelphia, and participated in QuiltCon, an un•bound•ed, last fall at Root annual gathering of the Modern Division in San Francisco, Quilt Guild in Austin, TX, where where she lives. she introduced new projects,

right: photo courtesy of RH Contemporary Art

If you’ve caught an episode of the new Fox/ABC comedy Fresh off the Boat, you’ve seen some of the latest work of Michael Riley GD, Kate Mrozowski 06 GD and Aaron Bjork of Shine studio. The Los Angeles group designed and animated the main title sequence, showing the family’s minivan road trip from DC to Orlando in 1995, set to a theme song by rap artist Danny Brown. Michael is the founder and creative director at Shine.

spoke and signed books. As the owner of eo art lab art consulting (, John R. Schroeder AR

(Chester, CT) recently worked with TK+A of Boston on the design, procurement and installation of artwork on four floors of the new Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT. The cutting-edge facility on the campus of the University of Connecticut Health Center features work by several eo artists. In March Sonya Sklaroff PT ( showed recent paintings in New York: Inside and Out, a solo show capturing the feel of the city where she lives, at Galerie Anagama in Versailles, France. Sonya appears in Pierre Ortel’s upcoming documentary New York Art City.

Bo Joseph 92 PT Bo Joseph: Hiding in Plain Sight, an exhibition of new mixedmedia paintings like this one, Co-opting Cryptic Signs (oil pastel, colored pencil, acrylic on paper, 55 5/8 x 80 5/8"), was on view earlier this spring at Sears-Peyton Gallery in NYC.

1992 Shepard Fairey IL

(see page 62) Please email class notes submissions to:



Jennifer Shaw 94 PH New images from Jennifer’s ongoing series The Space Between were featured in two solo shows earlier this year: at Guthrie Contemporary Gallery in New Orleans (where she lives) and at Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco. Her black-and-white photographs—many of children outdoors—mine the ambiguous state of parenthood, exploring the spaces between delight and disquiet.

She was recently awarded her second residency at the Albers Foundation in Connecticut. Oak Hill Architects, founded in 2004 by Andrew Reck BArch (Wayland, MA), was ranked among the top 10 architectural firms nationwide in Marvin Window & Doors Architect’s Challenge Showdown; Houzz. com named Oak Hill’s residences Best of Design for 2013 and 2014 and Best of Service for 2014. Visit the updated website for a gallery of their projects, chiefly in greater Boston: oakhill Louisa Thompson SC

1992 continued Pierre St-Jacques PT (Brooklyn) conceived The Exploration of Dead Ends, a multichannel video installation, as “a journey where the direction seems defined yet the place of arrival isn’t”—a nonlinear look at the “nebulosity that is found in human experience.” Station Independent Projects presented the installation last November and December.

1993 Last fall Larissa Nowicki GD exhibited her mesmerizing, minimalist compositions— intricately woven from strips of book pages—in Insomnia, a solo show at John Molloy Gallery in NYC, where she lives.

Barry Beach 95 SC Two of Barry’s redwood sculptures ( were on view through May 24 in BUILD IT!, an exhibition at the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa, AZ. Combining reclaimed and newly cut wood, the structures “blend contradictions”: organic and synthetic forms, planning and experimentation. Barry is based in San Rafael, CA.



(Brooklyn) elevated the humble neighborhood laundromat to a dramatic performance space with Washeteria, an all-ages, dual-language theater production incorporating second graders from a Brooklyn public school. Supported by the Children’s Theater Foundation of America, the production ran in March and April through Soho Rep.

1994 Carrie Bloomston PT

(see pages 8–9) Three sonic fabric dresses and a new scroll-score piece by Alyce Santoro CEC IL (alyce were on view this spring in the exhibition RE:PURPOSED at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL. She also showed new work in Visible Sound, a three-person event in April at Central Features in Albuquerque, NM.

1995 20th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015

When the World Wildlife Fund–UK and Do the Green Thing invited Mac Premo FAV ( to repurpose ‘everyday things’ as a means of promoting green living, he teamed up with his friends at Sanford Shapes skateboards

in Encinitas, CA to make skateboards from trash. The goal is to be able to give away the low-cost Bucket Board (, which repurposes the ubiquitous big plastic buckets used for spackle and other construction materials, to kids in need.

1996 Gorgeous chandeliers by Lindsey Adelman ID

(Brooklyn) were presented by Nilufar Gallery at this year’s Salone del Mobile, the spring international furniture exhibition in Milan. Lindsey’s new series of oversized brass and hand-blown glass chandeliers “references the traps we often lay for ourselves—ones which, once pulled up from the depths of the sea, turn out to be empty, and even sometimes sparkly,” she says. Earlier this spring thirdgeneration RISD alum Amanda Barr PR (Chapel Hill, NC) had a solo show titled Real Talk Catastrophe at Lump Gallery in Raleigh, NC. She runs an art residency ( in lovely Oaxaca, Mexico, with month-long spots offering studio space and bed and breakfast accommodations. Supported by a fellowship from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Fesseha Demessae ID (Randallstown, MD) has been working to inform underserved communities in Baltimore about the emerging technologies available to them. “We hope to open a community-based MakerSpace within the next year,” he reports. He also recently did graduate coursework in social design at MICA. Catherine Grisez JM, designer of an eponymous line of handcrafted, limited-edition jewelry, was named a finalist in the 2014 Martha Stewart

Priscilla Prentice 94 IL “Jamilla is jumping. Ruth is running. And Reese is roaring like a great big lion for no reason at all.” How do you manage a little kid who’s out of control? In her picture book debut—a departure from her day job as an environmental artist for video games—Priscilla provides energetic illustrations for When You Just Have to Roar (April 2015, Redleaf Lane), a new children’s book about self-control and expectations.

American Made Awards. She casts organic shapes in silver and bronze and adorns them with semiprecious stones, taking inspiration from mountain and beach walks around her home in Seattle.

Dean Welshman 95 GD After his own dog painting was chosen for the Rockport book 1,000 Dog Portraits, Dean was especially delighted when a drawing by his (then) seven-year-old daughter was selected, too. He works as the lead graphic designer at Providence College and lives in Wakefield, RI.

Debris, a collaborative, multimedia project by Lee Lee PT (, focuses on ongoing threats to the marine environment and was featured recently at the Cosmobilities conference at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, the Terra Madre slow-food conference in Turin, Italy, and Art Moves!, an exhibition celebrating PlatteForum’s new space in Denver, where Lee lives.

Sarah Greene Reed 94 PH above: Represented by Guthrie Contemporary in New Orleans, Sarah has been producing digital collages like Cassette (2012, archival print of digital collage on fabric, 50 x 38") on commission. She recently made the jump to the big screen by appearing in The Stick Wigglies Last Gasp, a documentary about a punk band she’s been in since the mid 1990s. The film premiered in January in Austin, TX, where she lives.

1997 Cyrus Highsmith GD

(see page 19) KRELwear by Karelle Levy TX (—signature

“toobular” knit garments that are sometimes convertible and always sexy—are staples of the Miami club scene. And her frequent KREL2go events offer “quickie couture” made to order, on the spot. In February Karelle switched mediums to show a 2 x 2' painting along with nine other artists in the Miami Independent Thinkers booth at Art Wynwood.

Chris Condon 95 SC right: Working for almost two years, Chris created his New Growth Forest series of sculptures using primarily found wood: salvaged construction materials and an old oak tree that was cut down to make way for a new library in East Roswell, GA, near where he lives in Palmetto. The town used its percent-for-the-arts initiative to commission the series of wooden animals, which represent those found in the wild outside the library.

Please email class notes submissions to:



Meredith Rose 01 PT Since moving from Colorado to Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca, Mexico last year, Meredith ( has been creating brightly colored oil paintings like Check Yourself, exploring identity and culture. She also makes art videos “as ‘solo exhibitions’ that only occur in nature and extreme environments,” she says.

production company founded to bring “provocative art of all disciplines to unexpected, nontraditional spaces.” Their inaugural performance, Charles Busch’s The Lady in Question, sold out its run and garnered a nomination from the annual StarNews Theater Awards. Nina is the art director for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and art director/co-editor for WILMA Magazine. She and Bryan live in Wilmington, NC with their two cats, Jack and Oskar.

1997 continued Anne Frost Morse GD writes:

“I just started a new job as the administrative executive assistant to the CEO at Group Delphi, a company that designs and builds museum exhibits, trade show displays, retail installations and corporate events. The headquarters are a former hangar on the Naval Air Station in Alameda, CA,

and a good portion of the fabrication happens there. The production area looks and feels a lot like RISD’s Industrial Design department—makes me miss my alma mater.”

1998 Last summer Nina Bays IL, her husband Bryan Cournoyer and colleague George Domby formed C’est La Guerre, an arts

Kenji Ono 98 IL Six years after starting work on his first children’s book (which he thought would take six months), Kenji is proud to announce the publication of Nora and Beta (CreateSpace). Appealing colored pencil drawings bring to life the story of a robot who lands in a town with no technology – a tale inspired by the artist’s own experience with “East meets West, anime meets Disney.” After making the move from storyboarding for TV, Kenji (La Crescenta, CA) has been working as a story artist for features at DreamWorks for about a year.

In Renato and the Lion, an upcoming picture book by Barbara (Willcox) DiLorenzo IL (Hightstown, NJ), a young

Italian boy befriends a stone statue of a lion against the haunting backdrop of World War II. Look for the luminous story next year from Viking Children’s Books. Anna Schuleit Haber PT

(Brooklyn) took inspiration from the darkly comic fiction of Thomas Bernhard for Schluemberger + The Panthers, a new series of 36 paintings. Intricate, abstract and laden with imagery, the pieces— shown for the first time last winter at the German Consulate General in NYC— evoke the author’s obsession with political corruption and intrigue. Clara Lieu IL, who continues

to teach in Foundation Studies at RISD, had two solo shows last fall: EMERGE at Simmons College in Boston and HIDING at Framingham [MA] State University. Continuing her exploration of the theme of self-discovery, she exhibited drawings, prints and photography derived from her sculptural work. Work by Brooklyn-based artist Seher Shah BArch (sehershah. 78


Please email class notes submissions to:

net)—best known for her often monochromatic drawings of abstracted fragments of brutalist buildings—is on view through March 2016 in Scenes for a New Heritage, a comprehensive reinstallation of the Contemporary Galleries at MoMA. Shahzia Sikander MFA 95 PT/PR and Kara Walker MFA 94 PT/PR are also among the 30-some artists represented.

1999 Daylighter, a solo show by Glen Baldridge PR (Brooklyn), was on view in March and April at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in NYC. Referencing the classic light truck of the same name, the group of paintings and prints explored “the hidden beauty that lies mostly in dark woods, roadsides and smoky back rooms.” For her fall 2015 film/video/new media residency at Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County, CA, Sandra Lea Gibson FAV (gibsonrecoder. com) will work with her partner Luis Recoder on Film Museum, a project exploring how the “unprecedented temporal specificity” of film can be remembered and represented in a gallery space. Sandra’s piece NYC Flower Film will be screened several times during the run of America Is Hard to

Ryan Wallace 99 IL In Slo Crostic, a solo show last fall at Susan Inglett Gallery in NYC, Ryan ( presented viewers with a group of “chromatically minimalist and materially maximalist” abstract paintings and sculptures. In January and February he exhibited mixed-media paintings and sculptures in The Standard Model, a one-man show at Mark Moore Gallery in Culver City, CA.

See, the Whitney’s first show in its new building. Catch it by September 27. In February the NYC-based couple attended the Plastik Festival in Ireland to present their installation Light Spill (2006) and Obliteration, a new performance piece. Sangram Majumdar IL and

the co-curators of Improvised Showboat have no idea what they’re in for: by asking invited artists to bring work of their own choosing, the experimental exhibition series encourages the element of surprise. Sangram opened his Brooklyn studio doors in November for the fourth one-night-only installment of the exhibition venture. His own work, which explores “the gap between seeing and reality,” was on view in October and November—along with pieces by fellow Brooklynite Julian Kreimer MFA 03 PT—in Diagonal Triangle at Artist House Party in NYC.

2000 15th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015 Matt Cottam ID (see page 28) Bethany Kobe GD (see page 14) Marisa Murrow IL (Los Angeles) contributed oil paintings of coastal scenes to

the final exhibition at Gallery Bergelli in Larkspur, CA, which was on view in November and December. Nicole Romano AP

(see next page) Nick Scappaticci ID

(see page 28) A December story in the Wall Street Journal profiles Marie-Louise Sciò Arch, creative director and resident host at Hotel Il Pellicano, the high-end Tuscan celebrity haunt owned by her father. “RISD is where I learned how to think,” Marie-Louise notes in the WSJ story. After graduation she worked at Costas Kondylis and Partners in NYC before returning to Rome and working as an interior designer— and then returning “home” to Il Pellicano.

2001 Meghan (Cowan) Devinat 01 JM and Benoit Devinat BID 02

welcomed their third daughter, Naomi Isabelle Jasmine, on April 18. The family lives in Providence (see also page 61).

David Kennedy-Cutler PT

(Brooklyn) used digital scanning and printing techniques for his work in Broken Surface Artificial Matter, a four-person show on view last fall at Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton, NY. The exhibition considered the “physical and malleable nature of photographic media.” ZaPow! (, the illustration and pop culture gallery that Lauren Patton IL

Sounds Intriguing NOW THAT HE HAS WON a $25,000 MacColl Johnson Fellowship from the Rhode Island Foundation, Shawn Greenlee 96 PR is looking forward to restarting fascinating research in Korea this summer. The electronic media artist, who holds a PhD in Computer Music and New Media from Brown University, first became interested in traditional Korean instruments in 2012 when he traveled to Seoul to collaborate with a trio of musicians considered to be masters of the kayagum (a zither-like instrument similar to the Japanese koto). Using software he coded himself, he composed unconventional works “for an instrument I’d never played myself,” he explains. “I had to translate the scores I’d generated algorithmically into notation the musicians could actually play.” A Printmaking major at RISD, Shawn played bass in a hugely popular noise band in the 1990s before gravitating towards composing and performing solo electronic music. His recent move towards traditional Asian music means he’s “looking at centuries-old instruments in the context of emerging technologies,” he says. Shawn feels right at home in RISD’s Foundation Studies program, where he works as an assistant professor and programs head. “Foundation year is more about catalyzing students,” he says. “It’s a great time to cross boundaries and explore what it means to be multi-disciplinary. The majors are deep and disciplinary,

and her husband Matt run in Asheville, NC, was featured on an episode of the PBS TV series Start-Up. Visit the PBS website for an interesting look at how they’ve helped support local artists as they’ve built ZaPow! into a vibrant community gathering place and educational center. Johannes Pauwen ID

(see page 14) Never creatively static, Sarah Small PH (Brooklyn) sings and

Kelly Murphy 99 IL Austrian publishers Lürzer’s Archive named Kelly ( one of the 200 best illustrators worldwide in 2014–15. She teaches in RISD’s Illustration department and recently completed wonderful illustrations for The Case of the Missing Moonstone, the first in a new series of chapter books. Kelly’s cover illustration for Ship of Dolls was a winner in the Society of Illustrators’ 57th Annual Competition.

composes for two Brooklynbased a cappella trios, Black Sea Hotel and Hydra. And in her first acting role ever, she plays the lead in Josephine Decker’s feature film, Butter

on the Latch, a fantasy/horror psychodrama that the Village Voice calls “elegant and elliptical” and Fandor named one of the 10 Best First Feature Films of 2014.

Shawn Greenlee 96 PR

but fields of study like sound create cross-disciplinary conversations that produce outcomes you would never expect.” This summer Shawn hopes “to continue composing for traditional Korean instruments, including the 12-string kayagum and the stone chime known as pyeongyeong. I will focus on creating works for soloists and ensembles in an experimental context and hope that the new pieces will eventually be performed in the US.” SPRING/SUMMER 2015


Howie Sneider SC, director of The Steel Yard in Providence, has won a 2015 Rhode Island Foundation Fellowship to participate in a leadership development program for nonprofits.

A new architectural lighting design project by Kate Sweater FD is installed at Barbaar Café in Delft, Netherlands, near her home base in Den Haag. Part of her new IndiePendants series, the fixtures are inspired by “our interest in people who have enlightened the world to new ideas—and new ways of thinking,” she notes.

2003 Becky Fong 05 GD On June 28, 2014 Becky and Aaron Hughes of Masontown, PA got married at the Providence Art Club. They were thrilled to welcome many RISD friends and family members from around the world for the festivities, which began with a traditional Cantonese tea ceremony for family elders. Becky works as an assistant director of admissions at RISD and Aaron is a software engineer at The MathWorks in Natick, MA.

2002 Nature Anatomy, the latest lovely book by Brooklynbased writer/illustrator Julia Rothman IL, presents curious and wonderful facts about the world around us in her inimitable and very alluring style.

Best friends Nora Alexander ID , who designs jewelry, and Maie Liis Webb 04 GD, a graphic designer, profess that their “dream has always been to do what we love—every day— with the ones we love.” Since launching their first Noon Design Shop in San Diego

Sweet Serendipity When Nicole Romano 00 AP interned with Nicole Miller 73 AP—a longtime mentor to RISD students and now a trustee— her senior year, she had no idea the experience in NYC would inspire her to start a jewelry business. But when her fashion idol got far more excited about her handmade earrings than her clothing, it put something in motion. “When Nicole asked me to make jewelry for the models in her runway show,” Romano says, “it ended up being a highlight of the show. She has been a mentor and one of my biggest fans ever since.” Once costume designer Patricia Field spotted the jewelry at Miller’s show, she knew Romano’s chunky, glamorous pieces would be perfect for the trendy TV series Sex and the City and related films. “When Patricia spoke about my jewelry in a 2001 Vogue interview,” she says, it really jumpstarted demand. Even though Romano initially moved to New York after graduation and set up shop selling a full line of ready-to-wear apparel in the lobby of the iconic Plaza Hotel in Manhattan’s Central Park South, she soon switched gears. She still maintains a design studio in East Harlem, but now focuses on jewelry, manufacturing all of her designs at her home base in Providence’s historic jewelry district. 80


in 2009, they’ve worked hard to “grow [their] little dream into reality.” The entrepreneurs now sell “thoughtfully designed goods made in America” through three storefront/ studios—in San Diego (where Maie Liis now lives), Providence (Nora’s home base) and Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. They also run an online store ( and a thriving wholesale business. NYC-based designer Michael Freimuth GD—who developed the original design of the current RISD Admissions viewbook—is among the designers cited in the People to Watch 2015 round-up in the January issue of GD USA. He’s now a partner in his own studio, called Franklyn ( Last fall a full-page illustration by Daniel Hertzberg IL (Montclair, NJ) accompanied Tom Hanks’ first published piece of fiction, Alan Bean Plus Four, in The New Yorker (10.27.14).

Nicole Romano 00 AP Romano credits RISD with making her a better designer, while also helping her gain the technical skills needed to put her a step ahead in the fashion world. “I learned that it wasn’t just about being creative,” she explains, “but also about understanding how construction works—and how technical elements fit into design.”

For more on Nicole’s work, go to

Dedicated to bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US, Romano has become a leader in the USA Made campaign. Her mixed-media costume jewelry is now sold at Anthropologie, Charm & Chain, Moda Operandi, Nicole Miller and Luca Luca shops, and since last summer is available through the eBay Designer Collective, a new online marketplace. Romano loves experimental collaborations and traveling the world to soak in fascinating cultures. “But my biggest inspiration,” she says, “is the woman I’m dressing—the woman who thinks for herself and has a strong personal style.”

Given that the New Museum’s 2015 triennial was “organized by the prescient curator Lauren Cornell and the maverick artist Ryan Trecartin [FAV],” as The New Yorker put it, expectations were high for Surround Audience, which ran from late February through May 24 at the NYC museum. Meant to be “predictive,” the show presented work by 51 young artists and collectives from more than 20 countries.

2005 10th Reunion October 9 – 11, 2015

Jessica Frelinghuysen

Brian Chesky 04 ID in its

02 PR

annual list of The 100 Most Influential People, noting that his “audacity is fabulous” (see also page 17).

Exploring her ongoing fascination with communication and social spaces, Jessica (Hamtramck, MI) created Conversation Domes for the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum of Art in Lansing, MI. The sound and sight installation, open from January to May 25, invited visitors to step under a personal dome and “inhabit the complex pathways of communication.”

Jennifer (Paulin) Johanson IL/MAT 04 and Andrew

A Collection of Solitary Exercises, a project by John C. Gonzalez IL (johncgonzalez. com) for the Action Kits exhibition at Boston’s Mills Gallery, presented visitors with a series of “instructions that involve both mental and physical actions” to be performed in the gallery. The show ran from January to April.

Johanson IL welcomed their

second daughter, Avery Providence, on April 14, 2014. Big sister Cora Amelia was born on August 20, 2012. The family lives in Reno, NV.

Stephanie Silverman FD

(see next page)

Jamie Allen IL (Honolulu, HI)

was one of three artists marking World Water Day (March 22) through The Texture of Water, an exhibition that ran through April at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. As the newly appointed architectural studio director at STA Architecture Group, Bryce Bounds BArch will lead the Miami firm’s work on mixed-use commercial and high-end food service design, with select staff focusing on residential construction as well. He was previously an associate at the firm. Joe Gebbia GD/ID (see page 17)

LA-based artist Regina Mamou PH (reginamamou. com) had a busy fall, presenting on Capitalism & Socialism at Utopia, Globalization, and Revolution, a conference at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, and showing work in [re]connect: Postmodern Documentary Photography, an exhibition exploring how digital technology affects documentary photography. The show debuted at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN before traveling to Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Syo Gallery in Daegu, South Korea.

were on view last fall at ltd los angeles. Last fall Jed also exhibited in Life Transmissions, a group show at Chapman University’s Guggenheim Gallery in Orange, CA, and wrote an essay about the photographer Alex Sade for The Benefit of Friends Collected, a critical journal by and about artists.

For the work in Sundials, the fourth solo show Jed Ochmanek PT (jedochmanek. com) has had in Los Angeles, the artist moved his painting practice from LA to Joshua Tree, CA, where he used the desert sun to dry and bake solvent and paint solutions poured onto steel and aluminum. The resulting wall-based works

Alexander Todd Williams FD

Earlier this spring work by Joan Wyand CR (Providence)

was featured in Untamed Objects, a group show at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket, RI.

2006 Kale Miller Halperin IL and

were married on September 20, 2014 in South Haven, MI, with Billy Dalton officiating. Kale is a senior print and pattern designer for LeSportsac and Alexander is a co-founder of Rich, Brilliant, Willing, the contemporary lighting design company. The couple lives in Brooklyn.

Jessica Hess 03 IL Davis Street is among the urban landscape paintings Jessica ( showed in two exhibitions last summer: Art on the Edge at Vered Gallery in East Hampton, NY, and Massively Small at J Go Gallery in Park City, UT. The San Francisco-based artist is also pleased to have been selected for Hyperreal, the latest Juxtapoz book presenting the work of contemporary photorealist painters.

Drawn the Road Again, a solo show of travel sketches by Chandler O’Leary IL, was on view last fall at Tacoma [WA] Public Library’s Handforth Gallery.

2004 A beautiful new book by architect Anthony Acciavatti BArch, a founding partner of Somatic Collaborative in NYC and Quito, Ecuador, distills 10 years of his work exploring and documenting the Ganges River. Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River (Applied Research + Design, 2015) is a combination atlasalmanac, bringing together maps, photographs and text, the past and the present to capture the ever-changing Ganges river basin in all its complex glory. This spring TIME magazine included Airbnb cofounder Please email class notes submissions to:



Kelly Berg 08 IL Dangerous Transcendence, a solo exhibition that ran from November to January at the Lancaster [CA] Museum of Art and History, captured the chaos of cyclones, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Kelly (Venice, CA) works in acrylic and ink on canvas, contrasting bright and dark to convey the ferocity of natural threats beyond human control.

Brandon Herman PH (West

Hollywood, CA) considered memory and nostalgia in House of Leaves, a December multimedia project for hw.d in Munich. Comprising nine works of staged imagery—a video, six

photographs and two wallmounted sculptures—the installation took viewers back to the place of Brandon’s childhood, asking, “Which experiences live on?” hw.d produced a gorgeous catalogue in conjunction with the installation.

(see page 16) Nashville-based illustrator

Jessamee Sanders AP

Sean DiIanni SC (see page 16)

Lauren (Minco) Lowen IL

( recently signed on with Jennifer Nelson Artists. In addition to teaching, Lauren creates whimsical illustrations and surface designs for a diverse group

Stephanie (Welch) Silverman 04 FD first recognized her interest in teaching when she worked as a TA for Professor John Dunnigan MFA 80 ID at RISD. Showing a natural gift, she earned the Furniture Design department’s Tage Frid Award for Excellence in Teaching as she was graduating. In March the National Art Education Association presented her with its 2015 award for Eastern Region Secondary Art Educator of the Year. “I am truly humbled to receive this important distinction,” Stephanie says, “but I share the honor with my students at The Tatnall School in Wilmington, DE. After all, effective teaching is truly a synergy—a kind of reciprocity between student and teacher.” After graduation Stephanie initially worked as a graphic designer in Philadelphia, but admits that she “missed the tangible immediacy of working with physical art materials, and the creative synergy and dynamism of a creative collective environment.” As she was completing a master’s degree in Visual Arts Education at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia—in record time and



paintings in Light House, a spring solo show at the Central Congregational Church Gallery in Providence, where she lives.

Starting with Students


Filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii FAV (Nairobi, Kenya) was a featured presenter at February’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Her latest film project looks at 50 years of Kenyan independence.

little treasures for your neck,” she says.

Two photographs by Erin Danna IL were featured in the Wheaton College biennial event Photography Beyond the Frame. The juried show was on view in March and April at the Norton, MA campus. Erin also showed work last winter in Making and Taking: Pictures Reconsidered, a group exhibition at the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, where she lives.

Caity Kennedy PT

2006 continued

of clients including Hallmark, Williams-Sonoma and DEMDACO.

Alice O’Neill PR exhibited

(Philadelphia) is excited to announce the launch of her website and online store for Tamlin Jewelry (ilovetamlin. com). Her newest line “explores natural, sculptural form to create luxurious

2008 Ashleigh Axios GD, creative

director at the White House, is among the designers cited in the People to Watch 2015 round-up in the January issue

Stephanie (Welch) Silverman 04 FD supported by a graduate fellowship—Stephanie landed a position at her high school alma mater, Archmere Academy, in Claymont, DE. Within six months, she was asked to chair the art department there and three years later moved on to The Tatnall School, a private K–12 day school where she’s now head of the upper school art program, as well as the interdivisional K–12 art curriculum coordinator. Last fall Stephanie passed her first attempt at becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) with a certificate in Early Adolescence/ Young Adulthood Art, making her the only art educator in Delaware private schools to hold the credential. She also serves as the independent school representative on the Delaware Art Education Association’s Board of Directors and manages to make time for her own practice, too, which she considers essential. “My career in art education is a dream come true,” Silverman says. “My students inspire me every day, and I can’t envision a better opportunity for me to share my varied skill set and passions with others in a meaningful and high-impact way.”

Though she teaches full-time and juggles a number of administrative duties, Stephanie also enjoys painting and believes that remaining active in the studio is key to being a good art teacher.

Christine Zavesky

BArch 08 Urban Ripples, the mural Christine completed last fall using six custom shades of blue, has brought a breath of fresh air to Miami, where she lives. Part of a downtown revitalization project, her painting appears to shift and reflect light like the nearby ocean, bringing visual pleasure to an otherwise drab urban district.

of GD USA. The short piece notes that she “received [both] a BFA in Graphic Design and a wonderful husband [Nathaniel Axios MFA 07 DM ] from RISD.” Ilana Savdie IL traveled from Brooklyn to “paradise” (Miami) in December to participate in two events around Art Basel: Identifications: A Discussion About Non-Conformity, Labeling, and Forms of Identity, held at Mana Miami, and Bushwick Gone Basel, a festive, one-night transposition of the

Marisa Keris 07 PT + Constance Sepulveda

07 FD Having discovered a clear affinity of tastes at RISD, Marisa and Constance have kept collaborating ever since through their start-up ScoutX2 (scoutby—even though Marisa lives in Tuscumbia, AL and Constance in Southampton, NY. In May they presented their handmade leather and canvas goods at the third annual Southern Makers Festival in downtown Montgomery, AL. Select ScoutX2 designs are available at the West Elm store in Birmingham, AL as part of a West Elm + Local partnership.

thriving art scene of Bushwick, Brooklyn—live music, art and performance—into the Miami Art District. Commissioned by a TV production company to create a painting for the TNT series The Librarians, Alison Tinker IL (Richmond, VA) painted The Crown of King Arthur, a medieval-looking original piece that turned out to carry important clues to the supernatural mystery-of-theweek. The premiere episode garnered 7.3 million viewers— not bad for an opening. Graphic designer Jessica Walsh GD, a partner at the notable NYC firm Sagmeister & Walsh, made Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 list this year, which highlights “young game changers, movers and makers” in various fields. The new book that evolved from her recent 40 Days of Dating project has been optioned by Warner Brothers for a possible film.

2009 Brooklyn-based sculptor Eve Essex SC ( exhibited in two group shows Please email class notes submissions to:

as half of the duo Essex Olivares: Columbidae, which ran from March 21–May 26 at Cell Project Space in London, and Threshing Floor, on view for the month of May at Cuchifritos in NYC. Eve also plays flute and alto sax in an improvisational quartet called Das Audit, which performed in March at SculptureCenter in Long Island City, NY and has a new track on Peter Coffin’s forthcoming Music for Plants, Vol. 3. Adagio, a group of 20 works of art by Julie Mauskop PT (Larchmont, NY), was exhibited last winter at the 1155 Avenue of the Americas Lobby Gallery in Manhattan. Brooklyn-based artist Leah Shore FAV (

is overjoyed that Filmmaker is hosting her 2014 short film I Love You So Much! Her holiday e-card premiered in February at the inaugural NYC Porn Film Festival; watch Leah’s website for news of her latest work, Hallway: a live-action narrative film that will soon be hitting the festivals.

Erin Gerrity 09 IL + Zackary Kamen 09 ID On September 28, 2014, Erin and Zackary got married at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. Benjamin Laramie ID performed the ceremony and Molly Rosenberg ID made sure the couple got off to a strong start with an adapted reading of Dieter Rams’ 10 principles of good design. The happy couple lives in San Francisco.





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

Mike Eckaus SC (see page 14)

PH Photography PT Painting PR Printmaking SC Sculpture TX Textiles FORMER MAJORS Advertising Design


Hillel O’Leary 11 IL

AE Art + Design Education LA Landscape Architecture MD

Machine Design


Textile Chemistry


Textile Engineering

Created for My Sky, an astronomy exhibit that originated in 2014 at the Boston Children’s Museum, Hillel’s wood and steel Star/Spore II is “an artistic vision of the form, energy and drama” of the cosmos. The installation was a collaboration between the museum, NASA and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and is on view from June 8–September 7 at the Providence Children’s Museum. The artist now lives in Ronkonkoma, NY.


Graphic Design


Industrial Design

BIA Interior Architecture BLA Landscape Architecture

2010 Knitwear designer Lindsay Degen TX ( and Oyster cofounder Willem Van Lancker GD ( both made Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 list this year,

which highlights “young game changers, movers and makers” in various fields. Lindsay is highlighted in the Art & Style list, while Willem—CTO at the streaming service for book lovers—is included in the Consumer Tech list.

MASTER’S DEGREES Art Education (formerly MAE)


MArch Architecture MAT Teaching MDes Design in Interior Studies MFA

Fine Arts


Industrial Design


Interior Architecture

Allen Phillips 10 AR* Archfern in De Kalb, TX modified a shipping container into a very cool place to play for CASA’s Operation Playhouse, an auction benefiting the child advocacy organization. Constructed last fall and auctioned in December, the house incorporates leftover materials and a translucent wall of recycled water bottles. Allen established Archfern in 2010 as a multidisciplinary studio focusing on film, architectural design and furniture design and construction.

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



Please email class notes submissions to:

Based in Hong Kong, Nicola Fan GD ( recently directed The Eve, a video for the local band Sonic MSG that was an official selection at the NYC Independent Film Festival (October 2014) and the Pineapple Underground Film Festival (December 2014); in February she was invited to showcase her work at the Clermont Ferrand International Film Festival in France. Nicola also directed a short documentary for the nonprofit Society of Community Organization in Hong Kong and is working on a one-hour documentary addressing media objectification of women. Commissioned by The Women’s Foundation, the film is being used as a teaching tool in Hong Kong secondary schools and is being sent to international festivals. Jenny Lai AP (see page 12) Zoe Latta TX (see page 14)

When Congress hit a new milestone in January 2012, Stephanie Rudig GD

(Washington, DC) vowed to

Joe Ko 08 ID Philip Glenn BArch 10 Genah Kim 13 AP Feeling creative, verbal and crafty? Working at the Pasadena, CA creative firm Predicate Group, Genah, Joe and Philip collaborated to design, develop and test the new language-based tabletop game ROOTS (, which challenges players to invent new words from root parts.

draw attention to the fact that women represented 19% of the roster. Calling her project She-Span, she rendered portraits of each of the 102 women in Congress on oversized stickers and stuck them on light posts, utility boxes and trash cans around DC, completing her final portrait just one day into this year’s new Congressional term.

2011 Lila Ash PT (NYC) lets her acerbic wit fly in To Be Continued…, her newly

published book of hand-drawn comics about “love, hate, music, fashion, drugs, sex, boys, girls,” and more. Buy a copy ( and support her dream: to move to Malibu and become a “cartoonist/recluse.” Lila celebrated the book launch in March with a party and solo show at One of Us gallery in downtown LA. Over the holidays, friends Margaret Hinge JM and Jayna Aronovitch 10 PH

launched a new pop-up shop in Providence called Lore ( to help promote the work of inde-

Lindsay Degen 10 TX Earlier this year when paparazzi caught Rihanna out and about in a pink velour jogging suit wearing DEGEN’s Antibody boots, it offered an unexpected boost for the rapidly rising entrepreneur. Lindsay is best known for her punchy and playful knitwear and fashions, which extends to her Baby DEGEN line, too.

pendent artists and designers in the New England area. The shop featured fine art by Mike Bykovski BArch 12, jewelry by Jennaca Davies MFA 07 JM and Aisling Svennungsen 12 JM and knitwear by Maggie Thompson 13 TX , among other wonderful pieces.


I wear many hats—as the studio CEO, an artist, an accountant, my own PR person and studio janitor. To freelance you need to be very disciplined, both in terms of working and resting. For me, it’s often impossible to separate my work and personal life. I often have to cancel plans because of rush jobs and revisions. And without any official office hours and holidays, it’s very easy to over-work. Since I sell the product of my own thought processes, habits, tastes and preferences, I attach my name to the work like most freelancers do. But this makes it difficult not to take things personally when your work gets rejected. Since I believe that great work comes from honest work, I try to treat every piece like personal work, sneaking in small details that make me happy. If I’m interested in what I’m doing, hopefully that passion translates. When clients have very specific requirements that I don’t agree with, I try to let them know,

top right: ©PAPS.TV-Splash News


but if that doesn’t work, I remind myself that sometimes a job is a job and I need to distance myself from it. The hardest lesson to learn when freelancing is no matter how hard you try, you can’t knock every piece out of the ballpark. It used to be a lot easier for me to experiment when I was starting out, as there was nothing to lose. But now, with external and internal expectations, I have to keep reminding myself that failure is just part of being human. This helps me move on from less successful pieces. Freelance illustration can be a pretty lonely job, and artists are naturally talented at getting into their own heads. So I moved to NYC for the job opportunities, but I stay here for the community. It’s quite important

For more about Victo’s work, go to

by Victo Ngai 10 IL for me to have people who speak the same language around. There’s just no place like New York for being an artist and a freelancer. It’s an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Cocoon (below left) is one of 12 of my pieces selected for inclusion in Spectrum 22—The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, due out in November. Forbes also selected me for its list of 30 Under 30 this year and I recently had the opportunity to do this illustration for The New York Times special travel report on Asian Seaside Attractions.



Martín Guitierrez 12 PR With Can She Hear You, his second solo show at Ryan Lee Gallery in NYC, Martín exhibited two new series of self-portraits shot with mannequins, along with music videos and a sitespecific installation. Both his color work, Line Up, and the black and white series, Girlfriends (left), offer provocative meditations on gender and identity. The show was on view from April 9–May 9.

2011 continued Paintings by Liam Holding PT (Francestown, NH) were featured in Blind Handshake, a fall 2014 show celebrating humor and the unexpected in art. The five-person exhibition was on view at FJORD gallery in Philadelphia. In January NYC-based designer Misha Kahn FD presented Go West, Young Man, a solo installation at Fort Mason Center Festival Pavilion in San Francisco. He’s represented by Friedman Benda and created the installation for the FOG Design + Art booth. Ceramist Rebecca Manson CR (Bedford Hills, NY) participated in Hard and Soft, a four-artist show in March at Acme in Los Angeles. A critic for the LA Times noted that her “captivating, modestly scaled wall pieces” offer “crude, fine, visceral surprises.” Michael A. McKinley ID and Ana Clara Gonçalves were married on August 1, 2014. In December they moved from Bloomington, IN to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Art-soap maker Lily Su SC ( is expanding her line of high-concept scrubbables: she’s now working on 3D-printed travel soaps.

Karen Jiyun Sung 13 IL Currently based “lord knows where,” Karen has been roaming the last couple of years, “getting jobs, being fired from some,” drawing, drinking lots of coffee and traveling to focus on coffee culture ( in the US, South Korea and Italy. In the fall she’ll start a graduate program in visual communication at the Royal College of Art in London.



Avery Zieben 13 IL Now that Avery has completed her first skateboard illustration/ design for Sector 9 Skateboards, she’s excited to see this new Gavin Beschen Pro Model being sold worldwide. “It took me a year and a half after graduation to find my dream job in my dream city [San Diego],” she writes, “and I owe a huge part of this success to the Illustration department at RISD.”

A successful Kickstarter campaign is supporting Lily’s research into larger-scale production of her wares.

2012 Last fall Max Levi Frieder PT traveled to Taibe, Israel to lead a commemorative mural project at a high school that had recently suffered the loss of its beloved principal in a violent murder. Through his nonprofit Artolution, the Colorado-based alum works with children and adults in some of the world’s toughest hotspots, bringing people together to connect and heal through cooperative art-making. Lily Harris AP (see page 11)

Opening her Brooklyn studio to visitors last October, Ester

Tamara Kwark 13 IL In June Tamara’s ethereal Fabrication garments – “patches of delicate tulle and torn silk that are pieced together by thin thread” – will be shown at the Fiber Art Fair at the Seoul [South Korea] Art Center. For Illuminate, another series on view from May–August in the Traditional & Transformational exhibition at the New Bedford [MA] Art Museum, she worked in the Korean joomchi technique, making paper by hand and sewing the pieces together. Tamara lives in Chappaqua, NY.

Kislin CR shared work that she

had produced earlier in the year at EKWD (European Ceramic Workcentre) in the Netherlands. She also showed work in progress from her current residency at Hunter College.

2013 In March Samantha Dempsey IL, who works as an experience designer at Mad*Pow in Boston, published a persuasive commentary on the Scientific American site. In How Designers Can Improve Health Care for Everyone, she writes about her own trajectory and makes a convincing case for why the industry needs people like her. Jamie Wolfond FD (see page 10)

2014 Samantha Anderson FD

(see page 10) Esme Shapiro IL (see page 11) Prashast Thapan GD

(see page 11)

2015 Chloe Scheffe GD and Alice Taranto GD —who, coinciden-

tally, each have a twin sister— are profiled in GD USA’s round-up of Students to Watch 2015, which ran in the January issue of the magazine.

2016 In January the YMA–FSF Scholarship Committee presented awards for $5,000 to Taylor Greenberg AP, Megan Mitchell 15 AP , Allison Wang AP and Rachel Yoo AP at a dinner, where they met with industry professionals to discuss summer internships.


Mary Shalvoy 49 GD of

Thomas Thomasian 54 AE of

Richard Gobeille 65 IL of

Fairfield, CT on February 5, 2015.

Cary, NC on February 16, 2015.

Providence, RI on February 23, 2015.

Edwin Hyjek 50 GD of Elizabeth Robinson 39 IA

Manchester, CT on October 29, 2014.

of Wakefield, RI on October 17, 2014.

Alben Milwid 50 TX of Kiawah

Florence Dane 41 AP of Old

Lily Iselin 51 SC of Pound Ridge,

Island, SC on January 5, 2015.

Joseph Mallozzi 57 Arch

of North Providence, RI on February 20, 2015.

Carole Harman 65 PT of Foster,

Irene Miller 57 IA of Scotland,

Ian Ormon MAE 68 of Leeds,

CT on April 15, 2015.

ME on November 25, 2014.

Herbert Riley 57 TX of New

A. Tulloch 68 IA of Catumut, MA on December 30, 2014.

Lyme, CT on October 27, 2014.

NY on March 9, 2015.

Milford, CT on November 14, 2014.

Caroline Smith 41 AP of

Kenneth Lindquist 51 MD of

Robert Russett 57 PT of

Jefferson, MA on December 19, 2014.

Lafayette, LA on March 26, 2015.

Ralph Ricketts 51 SC of

Thadeus Chrupcala 58 TX of

Jacksonville, FL on March 2, 2015. Barbara Sharp 43 of San Diego,

CA on October 24, 2014. Clarence Carpenter 44 MD

of Meriden, CT on November 18, 2014. Catherine Antonacci 45 AE

of Windsor Locks, CT on November 13, 2014. Emily Angell 47 MD of North

Scituate, RI on December 15, 2014. Nancy Delaney 48 PT of

Kingston, MA on October 23, 2014. Dorothy (Burgstahler) Greenwood 48 IL of Barrington,

RI in November 2011. Jo-An (Dankel) Ward 48 TX

of Asheville, NC on February 23, 2015. Jean (Ervin) Earl Rasmussen 49 GD of Ft. Myers Beach, FL on

February 11, 2015.

Please email class notes submissions to:

Atlanta, GA on November 11, 2014. Susan Ashman 52 GD of

Fredericksburg, VA on October 29, 2014. Elsie Bourdeaudhui 52 TX

of Melbourne Beach, FL on November 25, 2014. Anita Dunn 52 TX of Sarasota,

FL on December 13, 2014. Gino Paluzzi 52 Arch of Greens-

burg, PA on June 21, 2014. Donald Roberts 52 PT of

Athens, OH on March 17, 2015. Andrew Alger 53 ID of Chicago,

IL on December 1, 2014.

Warren, RI on October 22, 2014. Helen Stewart 58 AP of

Belgrade, ME on December 12, 2014.

RI on November 11, 2014.

Nancy Eastman 69 AP

of Brewster, MA on January 2, 2015. Charles Dwyer 70 PT of Newport, RI on January 20, 2015. John Philibert 72 PH of Foxboro, MA on August 4, 2014.

Donald Bliss 59 IA of Maywood, NJ on April 4, 2015.

Joseph Keegan 74 IL of

Barbara (Bowes) Fellows

Nancy Ricci 75 AP of

59 IL of Minneapolis, MN on

September 27, 2014.

Camarillo, CA on October 26, 2014.

Donald Krueger MAE 60 of

Anthony Ascrizzi MFA 81 SC

Worchester, MA on August 3, 2014.

of Pawtucket, RI on April 23, 2014.

Charles Pengelly 61 IA of San

Taggart Aitken MFA 82 CR of

Francisco, CA on December 16, 2014.

Marblehead, MA on January 12, 2014.

Hamden, CT on August 1, 2014.

Suzanne D’Avanzo 62 PT/

Irvan Noe’man MID 85

Hans Wendler 53 TX of Epsom,

MAE 70 of Providence, RI on

NH on June 18, 2014.

November 30, 2014.

of Bandung, Indonesia on April 19, 2015.

Ralph Richardson 54 Arch of Framingham, MA on October 15, 2014.

Dorothy Westby 62 SC

Patrice Galvin 90 TX of

of Lighthouse Point, FL on March 17, 2015.

New York, NY on February 15, 2015. SPRING/SUMMER 2015


graduate class notes

“family, men, children, travel, art,” and her thoughts about being a “woman, artist, writer and immigrant in this country,” in her new book In Close Embrace (2015, CreateSpace). In April she exhibited abstracted figurative paintings in a oneperson show at the Lane Gallery in Hampton, NH.

1973 Remembering Harry Callahan, a solo show of photography by David Akiba MFA PH, was featured earlier this spring at Alibi Fine Art in Chicago.

1974 Cliff Garten MFA 78 CR Cliff Garten Studio ( made a splash last year with the unveiling of Los Angeles Opens Its Heart of Compassion at the busy intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in LA’s Koreatown. Suspended from the side of a parking structure, the 75 x 45' undulating screen behind a 20' abstract lotus form incorporates a “light show of rich, changing colors.” Luminous Crossings, another functional installation Cliff (Venice, CA) recently completed in Calgary, Alberta, provides sculptures and station canopies illuminated with colored LEDs to indicate the arrival and departure of trains.



Recent oil paintings by Martha

Perci Chester MFA PT (Minnea-

Armstrong MAE (Hatfield, MA)

polis, MN) was interviewed for The Art and Life of George Morrison, a documentary that aired in April on Twin Cities

were on view in a January solo show at Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia.

public television. She was a student of the Minnesota artist when he taught at RISD in the 1960s.

1972 Muriel Angelil MAT TX

(Amesbury, MA) uses poetry to illustrate her experiences with

Alfred De Angelo

MFA 76 PT Last fall Alfred (Wellesley Hills, MA) ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to finance a new sideline business: making highquality retro-inspired travel scarves. The John Hancock Insurance Company commissioned both his Boston and Boston Marathon scarves. A graphic designer, illustrator and animator, Alfred has run A.D. Design (adeangelodesign. com) since 1994 and continues to create oil paintings, watercolors and, most recently, large oil-bar paintings of flowers (



In April 1866, Mormon settlers in Utah took a band of Paiute Indians hostage and murdered all of them except four children. The great-great-grandfather of Sue Jensen Weeks MFA FAV (Salt Lake City, UT) was one of those responsible; her great-aunt later married one of the few Paiute survivors. In How Desolate Our Home Bereft Of Thee (2014, Clouds of Magellan) Sue retells these tragic events, weaving together strands of family history, letters, diaries, eyewitness accounts and reminiscences.

1977 As part of the US State Department’s Art in Embassies program, Jenny Holzer MFA PT is creating a permanent installation for the new American Embassy due to open in London in 2017.

1978 Painter Laurence Young MAE/MFA 79 PR (Provincetown, MA) teamed up with artist Fran Busse to present A Moment in Time, an early April show at Powers Gallery in Acton, MA.

1980 Stephen Petegorsky MFA PH

(Florence, MA) exhibited photographs from his ongoing work

Tim Flowers MFA 85 PT Inner Life (oil on panel, 20 x 20") was on view earlier this year in Georgia Artists Selecting Georgia Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia in Atlanta. In April 2014 Tim exhibited alongside Rebecca Ripple in Fanatic at Upfor Gallery in Portland, OR. He’s based in Decatur, GA.

with Polus Center for Social and Economic Development in Step by Step, his winter show at UMASS Amherst’s Herter Art Gallery. Stephen also showed New Work from November to January at the Herrick Gallery at Wendell [MA] Free Library.

Jennifer (Curtis) Burke

MFA 86 GD Jennifer’s San Francisco design firm Industry ( created the exhibition identity and interpretive materials for the site-specific installation @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz. The National Park Service anticipated that more than half a million visitors would see the exhibition on the former prison island during its six-month run from last fall through this spring.

Dana Matthews

MFA 92 PH In a mesmerizing book of photography Dana is compiling with Richard Giles, an organic farmer and her longtime friend, she documents the seasonal rhythms of his 160-acre Lucky Dog farm in New York state. “The subjects are elevated and dignified in their work while remaining deeply rooted to the earth,” says the Brooklyn-based photographer, who has been following the farm for 11 years. Last fall CNN featured images from the series on its photo blog.

Kate Blacklock MFA CR 87 Kate curated two ceramics exhibitions in late March in conjunction with this year’s National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference in Providence, where she also spoke. HiFire RESolutions in the Chazan Gallery featured 3D ceramic printing; Botanica Ceramica presented a wonderful selection of large-scale ceramic sculpture at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. Kate, an Industrial Design faculty member at RISD, also contributed oil paintings to a group show at Chazan Gallery earlier in the winter.

1982 Last fall Anne Sherwood Pundyk MFA PT (NYC) and Bianca Casady launched the second issue of their feminist arts magazine Girls Against God—exploring witchcraft, feminism and the arts—at the

Mary Jane Andreozzi

MAT 87

far right: ©Janine Antoni  |  courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

Gold Rush is among the wax drawings on wood and stone included in Fresh Paint, a fall/ winter group show at Providence’s ArtProv gallery. Mary Jane (Seekonk, MA) notes that her drawings “express an inner energy that leans towards symbolism and becomes more than a realistic rendering.”

NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1. Anne also presented her limited-edition, hand-painted book Goddess Mourning at the fair. Her essay The Revolution Will Be Painted was published in ART 21 (December 2014).

1983 Behind the Screen, a mixedmedia piece by Linda DiFrenna MAE (Swansea, MA), was on view in the 2014 Biennial Members’ Exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA. Need a little inspiration outdoors in Europe? Join NYCbased artists Dale Emmart MFA PT and Karen Bell MFA PH for Plein Air Portugal (pleinair, an artist retreat and summer workshop in northern Portugal. In March Scott Reed MFA PR was one of four featured players performing Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns, Opus 86 as part of the Colby College Symphony Orchestra. He has taught at Colby in Waterville, ME since 1987.

1986 Work by Joan Parcher MFA JM (Providence) was included in Unique by Design: Contemporary Jewelry in the Donna Schneier Collection, on view from May– August 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

1991 In April Philadelphia-based photographer Judy Gelles MFA PH ( spoke to an audience of a thousand at the TEDxPenn2015 conference. Selected to address the theme “What lies ahead,” she talked about The Fourth Grade Project, her riveting portrait and interview survey of 200+ fourthgraders around the world. Mixed-media pieces by Daphne Minkoff MFA PT were

featured in Making and Breaking, a group exhibition of Seattlebased artists examining the

process of “building things that are weathered, altered or destroyed over time.” Daphne’s recent work—collage and oil over board—depicts weathered and abandoned barns. Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle hosted the show in December and January.


with the Venice Bienniale, which opened in early May. Her much-anticipated new production of Bellini’s 19th-century opera Norma runs from May 20 through June 6 at Venice’s La Fenice Opera House. In addition, the RISD Museum has acquired several of Kara’s recent watercolors.

Ever surprising (and prolific), Kara Walker MFA PT/PR has been deeply engaged in a first for her: directing and designing the costumes and set for an opera staged in conjunction

Janine Antoni MFA 89 SC In Turn at Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco, Janine presented an architectural installation called Crowned along with a series of ceramic vessels inspired by the crowning that happens in childbirth. Before the show on the West Coast closed in April, From the Vow Made opened at her NYC gallery, Luhring Augustine. That exhibition also dealt with embodiment, featuring a collection of seven sculptural works along with Honey Baby, a video collaboration with choreographer Stephen Petronio that looks at motion in utero.

1984 Jim Kociuba MAE (jimkociuba.

com) captured the feeling of a drizzly day in Rainy Day Reflections, which was included in the winter show Paint at the Cambridge [MA] Art Association’s University Place Gallery. Please email class notes submissions to:



and Molly FitzSimons started the company in the basement of their house in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In Birds of Brooklyn: Miami Migration, Jenna Spevack MFA PT/PR (Brooklyn) summoned flocks of “feathered ghosts” to the Pulse Miami Beach contemporary art fair in December. The sound installation featured 70+ recordings of endangered and bygone birds from the two cities, creating a provocative imaginary dialogue. InsideOUT House, another of Jenna’s audio installations, was a highlight of last fall’s BRIC Biennial at BRIC House in NYC. The piece transported visitors to a peaceful woodland outhouse, underscoring the “scarcity of solitude in the urban environment.”

Phoebe Lickwar MLA 06 Phoebe (Fayetteville, AR) dug into her archives for Dog Show, Baltimore, Maryland, 1982, which has been touring the US with Early Works – a show of childhood work by 34 photographers from around the world. The exhibition landed at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston earlier this year. Another print, Shinkansen Meditation, was selected for the International Juried Plastic Camera Show, a spring show at RayKo Gallery in San Francisco.

1995 The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a story of “how we don’t want to be connected in what is supposedly a hyperconnected and globalized world,” Shahzia Sikander MFA PT/PR (NYC) pointed out in a piece in the Opinion section of The New York Times (12/4/2014). The painting she discusses in the article—The

World Is Yours, the World Is Mine—comments on narrative and storytelling “from the vantage point of New York City, a place of integration and turmoil that is still coming to terms with its underrepresented narratives.”

1996 Christopher Moore MFA SC

is the sculptor/designer behind

Paul Roustan MAT 06 Paul made a lifelong dream come true this spring with Body Paint, a new 290-page hardcover book featuring 130+ of his stunning body painting projects ( and tutorials on how to try this at home. The Kickstarter-funded project is attracting growing attention for the work Paul has done for years from his home base in Redondo Beach, CA.



Noble Goods (, a line of furniture and household goods made primarily of American hardwoods and bio-derived epoxy resin. He

1997 Julie Mehretu MFA PT/PR

(NYC) was one of 17 international artists whose work was

featured in the MoMA survey show The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, which ran from December–April. In The New Yorker, art critic Peter Schjeldahl noted that in this recent work, Julie “liberate[s] her inner abstract lyricist, with skittery gray paintings that pay candid and exhilarating homage to Cy Twombly.” This summer Julie is directing the

Mark Pack MFA 04 PT Meneology (2014, acrylic on panel, 14 x 14 x 4") is among the sculptural acrylic paintings Mark ( exhibited in Breaking Down Surface Tension, his February solo show at Pima Community College’s Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery in Tucson, AZ, where he’s based. The series shown explores “geologic formations and the processes in nature that create them.”


Greta Brubaker MFA 06 PH Since Greta and her husband Mike welcomed Grant Michael Brubaker on August 11, 2014, they’ve been enjoying an eye-opening first year with their first child in Moselem, PA.

Botin Foundation’s Visual Arts Workshop in Santander, Spain, where she’ll work intensively with 15 artists she has selected from around the world (see also: Owen caption on page 74).

1999 Surplus billboards along I–70 in Missouri proved to be an inspiring venue for Next Exit, the latest installment in The Sky is the Limit by Pittsburghbased artist Kim Beck MFA PT/PR ( The project involved skywriting billboard phrases and photographing them—SPACE AVAILABLE, OPEN DAILY, NEXT EXIT—as part of The I-70 Sign Show, a yearlong, six-artist series that turned some of Missouri’s excess billboards into thought-provoking canvases. Joe Marianek 03 GD (NYC) conducted an interview with Anne Thompson, the show’s organizer, for The Believer blog (June 2014).

2000 Earlier this year, ceramist Lesley Baker MFA CR showed mutated flora and fauna in New Natural, a solo exhibition at the South Bend [IN] Museum of Art. She teaches at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art + Design in Indianapolis.

Missing the Point, red, a meticulously planned and pieced quilt by Richard Killeaney MFA TX (Bridgeport, CT), was included in the winter exhibition Let Me Quilt One More Day at the New Britain [CT] Museum of Art. In addition to teaching at RISD and the Art Institute of NYC, Richard creates luxury home accessories through his own brand, Ocheltree Design.

2002 Only Human: Wrestling Entropy, a solo show of work by E.D. Taylor MFA PR (Lakewood, OH), was on view earlier this year at The Galleries at CSU on the Cleveland [OH] State University campus.

For My Hair is Wet and My Shoes are Tied, a spring solo show at Grice Bench in Los Angeles, Colby Bird MFA PH framed his photographic works himself, “obscuring and mediating the photos.” In April the Austin-based artist helped open Frontispiece, a new residency and arts space in Greene County, NY.

2005 New drawings, sculptures and installations by Tanya Aguiñiga MFA FD were featured in Shevening, a two-person show at Merry Norris in Los Angeles from May 9–25. In December Adam Eckstrom MFA PT and Lauren Was MFA 04 SC —better known as Ghost of a Dream (ghostofadream. com)—brought The Center of Convention, a new installation made from discarded trade show and art fair materials, to Miami Beach for Pulse. In late January the pair opened their

Alexander Roskin

MFA 00 FD In his latest furniture work, Alex pairs hardwoods with metal in sleek, skeletal forms. Side Tables (rosewood and bronze) was on view last November in The Salon: Art + Design at Park Avenue Armory in NYC. Alex is a professor at Hofstra University and works out of his studio in Hudson, NY.

third solo show at Galerie Paris–Beijing in Paris and in February they participated in the NARS Foundation exhibition In Praise of Folly and Progress Report’s project at Spring/Break Art Show. Finally, Adam and Lauren co-hosted an April residency on the southern coast of Lake Garda in Italy. In March abstract painter Kirstin Lamb MFA PT showed collage-like installations in

a four-person show at Chazan Gallery in Providence, where she lives. This Could Be Home 1, a collage and silkscreen-on-paper print by Dominic Montwori MFA CR (Brooklyn), was included in the Society of International Printmakers and Artists’ 2014 juried exhibition I Live Here. The Visual Arts Gallery of New Jersey City University hosted the fall exhibition.

2003 Jan Johnson MFA PT, an

adjunct instructor at Clark University in Worcester, MA, has been awarded a Fulbright grant for 2015–16. She’ll spend her year abroad at the University of Dundee, UK, where she will “research a heritage of embroidery unique to Scotland, lecture and create a new body of embroideries, drawings and prints” at the university’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

Lisa Baldani Hansel MA 05 Struck by the intricate geometry of Reykjavik, Iceland when looking down from a cathedral tower, Lisa was inspired to explore a new direction in her practice. She spent her sabbatical year (2013–14) working in monotype, solvent transfer and collagraph printmaking techniques before transitioning to painting with acrylic and plastic lead on panel. Last fall she presented the new body of work in Reykjavik Revisited at St. George’s School in Middletown, RI, where she has taught art for 18 years.

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In the midst of a fall 2014 residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, WA, NYC-based artist Yuka Otani MFA GL ( exhibited a series of new sculptures in VITREOUS, a solo show at Oriental Design Gallery in Hiroshima, Japan. Last November Breanne Trammell MFA PR (breanne

Fitzhugh Karol MFA 07 CR Working from 20’ hemlock timbers, Fitzhugh ( created What’s Progression as part of the 2014 Emerging Artist Fellowship program at Socrates Sculpture park in Long Island City, NY. The 60-ft carved structure, installed from September to March, “reflects silhouettes from both surrounding and imagined landscapes and invites park-goers to climb and interact,” the Brooklyn-based artist notes. STREB Extreme Action Junior Company choreographed and performed a dance piece on the sculpture last fall. was the inaugural visiting artist at the Zz School of Print Media in Kansas City, MO, where she produced a site-specific project called I Can’t Give You Anything But Love. Erin Zona MFA 09 PR is the school’s director. This academic year Breanne has been a visiting assistant professor and the Virginia Myers Visiting Artist in Printmaking at the University of Iowa. Her solo exhibition, Bad As I Wanna Be, was on view in February at Prairie Lights in Iowa City, and the following month she installed Double Double Rainbow Rainbow, a collaborative outdoor print project (with Jenny Harp) at the Southern Graphics Council International printmaking conference in Knoxville, TN.

2009 2006 continued After being co-awarded a 2014 Project Grant from the Craft Research Fund, Ashley Pigford MFA GD (designis has been examining contemporary, post-digital creative practice, with a specific focus on understanding the relationship

Carter Blackwell MID 09 Carter, his wife Kate and their first daughter Mika are thrilled with the arrival of Anna Marie, who was born in Portland, OR on April 1. “Mika is ecstatic— reading books to her little sister and cuddling up in super cozy and adorable ways,” writes Carter, adding: “We all feel blessed and awestruck by Anna’s presence.”

between handmade production and digital technologies. He’s an associate professor of graphic and interaction design at the University of Delaware, where he investigates creative process, typography, robotics and physical computing.

2007 As owner of the ecological design and construction company One Nature, Bryan Quinn MLA recently started an organic plant nursery for native and edible species and completed the design/installation of a new native plant meadow along the Brooklyn Greenway, the Pier 35 Ecodock on the East River and a dune restoration in Bridgeport, CT. Bryan splits his time between Brooklyn and Beacon, NY, where he lives with his wife Ilana (Brown 2000) and their new baby, Samara. Ernie’s Self-Edit, a riveting 8-foot sculpture Stephanie Williams MFA SC (Alexandria,



VA) made of wood “and a grotesque collection of handsewn, fleshy, meat-like pieces,” was part of the recent installation Pebble Drinkers. The installation, which also featured video and painting, was part of a group show held in February and March at Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ. Stephanie is illustrating one of Grimm’s stories for the reimagined fairytale collection Mirror Mirrored curated by Michelle Aldredge and Corwin Levi.

2008 After moving back to his hometown of Austin, TX, Jonas Criscoe MFA PT

( is teaching painting, printmaking and web design at The Contemporary Austin, where he’s also participating in the Teen Mentorship program. The semester-long undertaking culminates in a group exhibition for both mentors and students, scheduled for July 11–August 15

at Pump Project. This fall Jonas will show his own work— which references traditional quilting and modernist geometric abstraction—in a two-person show at Austin’s Grayduck Gallery.

RISD was well represented in Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, a winter show at Providence’s Chazan Gallery at Wheeler School: Johnny Adimando MFA PR (Providence), Austin Ballard MFA 12 SC

Jessica Brown MID 09 Furniture and toy maker (Cranston, RI; hit TV screens nationwide in January as a contestant on Framework, a Spike network reality series pitting 13 furniture builders against each other in some daunting challenges. The skilled (and fearless) designer made it to the sixth episode before losing a particularly thorny battle involving outdoor furniture.

Cheryl Eve Acosta

MFA 09 JM In honor of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s visit to Missouri last December, the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City commissioned Cheryl to make a oneof-a-kind brooch for Albright’s collection, which she famously used as a diplomatic icebreaker. The stunning design in gold, silver and enamel alludes to the diplomat’s “vivacity, growth and perpetuity; an emblem of longevity to be passed on to her three daughters.”

(Charlotte, NC), Peter Croteau MFA 12 PH (Providence), Jonathan Palmer MFA 13 PR

(Fort Bragg, CA), Justin Sorensen MFA 13 PR (Scandia, PA) and Raine Vasquez MFA 13 PR (Oak Harbor, WA) all exhibited work. In Material Location, a winter exhibition at Brooklyn’s UrbanGlass, RISD adjunct faculty member Stefanie Pender MFA GL, Ben Wright MFA GL and Jes Fan 14 GL were among the NYC-based glass artists investigating “some key aspects of the material’s inherent qualities, whether physical or cultural,” notes curator and RISD Glass instructor Susie Silbert. In My Lands are Islands, a solo sculpture show held last winter at NURTUREart in Brooklyn, Gabriela Salazar MFA PT

juxtaposed materials to suggest themes of colonialism, modernism, minimalism, urbanism and feminism. She also exhibited work in two group shows last fall and

(Bradley Beach, NJ), who has won several grants supporting her work as an art and design teacher. Jordana’s recent awards will fund art equipment and supplies, including a digital projector and an iPad; visiting artists and performers; and field trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Princeton University Art Museum.

Dawn Holder MFA 07 CR above: With 75,000 blades of porcelain grass, Monoculture is a highlight of the exhibition Organic Matters, which runs from June 5–September 13 at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in DC. “The extreme fragility of the porcelain speaks to the tenuous nature of our attempts to control the space around us,” Dawn notes, “and how quickly control is lost when the system is left untended.” She’s also showing ceramic and mixed-media wall installations through July 19 in Several Collections of Commemorative Plates, a solo exhibition at the Fort Smith [AR] Regional Art Museum. She lives nearby in Clarksville, AR.

winter: Light Box at Life on Mars Gallery in Brooklyn, and IMPOSSIBLE ATMOSPHERE at Sgorbati Projects in NYC. Gabriela also earned two residencies in 2014­–15: one through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency program, the other as a visiting artist at NYU. Lucky students at PJ Hill Elementary School in Trenton, NJ are benefiting from the efforts of Jordana Scheer MAT

Sean Michael Gallagher

MFA 08 CR Earlier this year Sean’s work was included in the 2015 NCECA Biennial Exhibition, an international juried show held at Brown University’s Bell Gallery in conjunction with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts convention that took place in Providence in late March. Based in Honolulu, he made Lost & Found (2013, 7 x 9 x 3.5") by partially melting and fusing local Hawaiian stone to a fragment of salvaged brick.

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Sculpture by Austin Ballard MFA SC that plays organic clay and wood forms off the hard angles of metalwork was included in Contemporary Visions, a small group show in January at Beers Contemporary in London. This spring he’s an artist in residence at Sculpture Space in Utica, NY.

Charlotte Potter MFA 10 GL Message Received, a large-scale installation of glass cameo text messages, is among the work shown earlier this spring in Through Bloodlines & Timelines, a solo show about relationships in the age of social media and her first at Heller Gallery in NYC. Charlotte works as the glass studio manager and programming director at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA.

2009 continued Steve Silber MFA SC

(see page 16) Erin Zona MFA PR recently celebrated her first year of running Zz School (zzschool. org), an educational start-up in Kansas City, MO that emphasizes the technical, conceptual and communitybased aspects of printmaking. Several RISD alumni have been involved so far, including Danni Parelman 10 PR, Pat Egger MFA 10 PR and Breanne Trammell MFA 08 PR. Bowie Barnett-Zunino MFA SC

and Jeff Barnett-Winsby MFA 06 PH are going all out with summer plans at The Wassaic [NY] Project, which got a great write-up in The New York Times (3.5.15).

2010 In November and December, Halsey McKay Gallery welcomed Ted Gahl MFA PT (Litchfield, CT) for Norfolk Road, his third solo exhibition with the gallery in East Hampton, NY. Prior to this year’s Superbowl, the Seattle-based design studio Hum ( celebrated Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch with its seriously silly fan page Speaks Mode. Founded by Kate 94


(Quinby) Harmer MFA GD ,

Hum—like Lynch—is known for agility, working with such wide-ranging clients as Death Cab for Cutie and Starbucks. Visitors to the Affordable Art Fair, a March event at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC, were greeted by the dynamic, angular installation Kelly Knapp MLA (; Sleepy Hollow, NY) made from cardboard, wood and string for the windows and foyer of the pavilion. Socially engaged artist Jan Mun MFA DM has been awarded a Blade of Grass Fellowship for her efforts to clean up an industrial waterway and Superfund site in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Through bioremediation—the use of fungi and other biological agents to break down chemical toxins—she hopes to implement the longsought solution for the site. An artist-in-residence at the Newtown Creek Alliance, Jan is conducting research with the Brooklyn College Environmental Science Analytical Center and helped organize public bioremediation workshops this spring. Emily Steffian MDes, who owns Providence’s well-loved Cable Car Cinema with her husband Daniel Kamil, has won a $300,000 Rhode Island

Innovation Fellowship to develop a new, multi-screen art house cinema, along with workshops and a residency program. Brooklyn-based artists Brett Day Windham MFA SC and George Terry MFA 08 SC were married in June 2014. Earlier this year Brett had an amazing time in Paris as the ArtSlant/ Georgia Fee Winter Resident. She’s also participating in a June show at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn. In February and early March, George’s new video, You Can’t Go Home, was shown at ADA Gallery in Richmond, VA.

2011 In her highly textured, sculptural paintings, Duhirwe Rushemeza MFA PR explores memory, identity, displacement, cultural adaptation—facets of her experience as a Rwandan living in Harlem. The work she showed in Danger Is In The Neatness Of Identification, a two-person exhibition held late last fall at Catinca Tabacaru Gallery in NYC, recalled both traditional Rwandan art practices and the detritus on the streets of NYC.

Clement Valla MFA 09 DM Surface Proxy, a solo show of 16 of Clement’s wrapped sculptures, was on view earlier this spring at XPO Gallery in Paris. Made from foam wrapped in printed linen, the pieces represent architectural artifacts from medieval France, with the image of each object mapped directly to its shape. Clement is an assistant professor of Graphic Design at RISD.

2012 RISD was well represented in TEEM, an installation and flatfile exhibition held at Providence’s Grin Gallery from November to January. Alumni with work in the show: Austin Ballard MFA SC, Jenny Jisun Kim 14 PT, John Ruggieri 88 PT*, Sophie Barbasch MFA 13 PH, Sophia Sobers MFA 13 DM and Steven Pestana MFA 14 DM.

Field Manual: Confinement and Image Violence, a solo show of new paintings by Brooklynbased artist Anthony Giannini MFA PT, was on view earlier this year at Harmony Murphy Gallery in Los Angeles. His work focuses on the visual culture surrounding masculine and military psychology, and the compartmentalization of pervasive psychic violence. Tactile Stars by Providencebased artist Aarti Kathuria MIA ( has been selected for a site-specific installation at TF Green Airport’s GREEN SPACE gallery. Scheduled to appear on a stretch of airport wall this fall,

drawing/artist’s books from the New York Foundation for the Arts. The support for her own creative work is much welcomed as a complement to her day job: training to be an architect.


Nick Waldman MArch 10

Doreen Garner MFA GL, Free

Preparing to move into a small 1924 cottage on Martha’s Vineyard just months before his second child was born, Nick (nickwaldman. com) had a strict deadline for completing the bright kitchen addition at one end of the building. The new light-filled space is perfect for the food shoots his wife Sarah does for her blog and as a space for the growing family to hang out. Nick did most of the work himself—with help from family and friends (including Mike Larsen MArch 10)—while also starting a new position at Breese Architects. Vineyard Style Magazine took note of the project in its Fall 2014 issue.

the dynamic fractal-like design—stars and pentagons of different sizes joined at the points—was first conceived as part of a RISD Interior Architecture studio. Jeffrey Peña MArch, a New York-based artist, architectural designer and cultural producer, produces the Contemporary African Diaspora Art ( panel and associated events at the University of Miami during Art Basel/Miami. He also sat on the panel at the December discussion, sharing his perspective as a community builder working to make the arts more accessible.

2013 Carley Eisenberg MFA FD, who runs Iron Mountain Forge in Boone, NC, was one of six

Laura Swanson MFA 11 DM Selections from Laura’s new Uniforms series are on view in Art of the Lived Experiment, an exhibition that opened in April and continues through July 31 at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, MI. In anticipation of the show, curator Amanda Cachia interviewed the NYC-based artist (lauraswanson. com) about the new work she contributed and her thoughts on art and disability.

designers selected to compete on Ellen’s Design Challenge, a new furniture design/build show that ran earlier this year on HGTV. Like fellow alum Katie Stout 12 FD (see also page 22), who also competed on the show, she was happy for the opportunity and the accompanying national exposure. In November Bayne Peterson MFA SC exhibited sculptural work in Myst, a solo show at Proxy Gallery in Providence, where he lives. In March he participated in Accidental Translation, a two-person exhibition with Hao Ni MFA 14 SC at FJORD in Philadelphia. Eugenia Yu MArch (eugenia has been awarded a fellowship in printmaking/

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Marseille IL (Brockton, MA)

and RaMell Ross MFA PH (see also page 10) showed work in the Kindred exhibition at RISD’s Gelman Gallery in January. Along with Patrice Payne MA 10 (Brooklyn) and Blue Wade MFA 06 DM (San Pedro, CA), Free also participated in the associated Kindred Critical Dialogue panel discussion and artist talks.

in the TEEM exhibition at Grin Gallery in Providence. Steve presented an artist’s book and offered a sigil-making service in The Botanica, a group exhibition on view at both Carroll & Sons in Boston and Invisible Exports in NYC.

2015 Tia Blassingame MFA PR

represented RISD at Design Indaba, an international conference held each year in February in Cape Town, South Africa.

Providence-based artist Steve Pestana MFA DM (steven received a 2015 Puffin Foundation Grant and presented his installation Opus Novum Sensorium, along with a frieze, at the March Spring/ Break Art Show in NYC. Last fall he did a residency at Santa Fe [NM] Art Institute, where he worked on Geometer, a new body of paintings that debuted

Joseph Bochynski

MFA 13 PT In November Joseph (Amherst, NY) exhibited new work in Permission, a solo show at TFNF gallery in Brooklyn. His ceramic mosaic sculptures address relationships, labor and community.



sketches, doodles, ideas in progress

Liberating New Start T WO YEARS AGO,

freelance illustrator

Jennifer Orkin-Lewis 81 TX started

making a sketchbook painting a day and posting the results to Instagram as a way to hold herself “accountable” for following through. Setting a strict half-hour time limit, she doesn’t worry about whether the paint bleeds through or the paper rips. “It’s a very meditative and gratifying process,” Orkin-Lewis says, “so it’s a good way to loosen up and experiment with new techniques.” Following “a string of bad jobs” and then working for many years designing prints, the former textiles stylist found it liberating to establish her own studio, August Wren, in 2008. “Before that I wasn’t making art of my own, but I was surrounded by pattern and color, which has influenced me greatly,” she explains. Having recently signed on with Jennifer Nelson Artists, OrkinLewis is licensing her work and handling commissions for clients such as Abrams Books, Design House Greetings, Hallmark, Calypso Cards, Up With Paper and Paper Goods for Target. She recently created a painting for the message RISD Alumni Relations emails to every graduate on his or her birthday, and this spring Abrams released Sitting in Bars with Cake, a cookbook featuring her illustrations. Orkin-Lewis plans to keep flexing her artistic muscles through daily sketching, especially now that she’s got so many enthusiastic followers on social media. She loves experimenting with collage, pen and ink, pattern, shape, color and more, but concedes: “There just needs to be more time in the day.”

Please submit sample pages from your own sketchbooks. Our favorites will appear in XYZmail and/or the next issue of the magazine. Questions? Email



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Make your plans now to attend

RISD by Design alumni, reunion + parents’ weekend

October 9–11, 2015 Come celebrate the inauguration of

Rosanne Somerson 76 ID as RISD’s 17th president Friday, October 9 Roger Williams National Memorial 284 North Main Street (just north of RISD’s central campus)

RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2015  

Rhode Island School of Design alumni magazine

RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2015  

Rhode Island School of Design alumni magazine