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Sculpture with Style

04/13/2012

Intricate folded-paper sculpture created by students in Pamela Unwin-Barkley’s Spatial Dynamics Foundation studios go on display tomorrow at Clad In, a designer clothing shop in Providence’s Wayland Square.

“Working with Clad In gives freshmen a real-world connection – and it’s a great exposure,” says Unwin-Barkley, an assistant professor in Foundation Studies this year and an architect who focuses on interiors, renovations and garden design. Though she typically invites outside critics into the studio to respond to student work, this is the first time she has done the reverse, arranging for her students to take their work into a public arena.

The collaboration with Clad In is a natural fit, Unwin-Barkley points out, since the shop is dedicated to providing women with “endlessly interesting and unexpectedly delightful” designer clothing, as co-owner Elizabeth Day Lawrence puts it, and shop manager Leslie Grant 79 AP is an alumna and practicing apparel designer.

“Providence is branding itself as the Creative Capital,” Grant says, “and RISD is this gem in the middle of the city. This studio brings the college into the community.”  

Earlier in the semester, students in Unwin-Barkley’s two Foundation sections had made wearable art – including shirts, necklaces and earrings – out of folded Bristol paper. To show the Clad In folks what they had been doing this semester, they chose to wear these paper creations to their first meeting with Grant and her two associates, Pam Wall (who studied illustration at RISD) and Swedish designer Asa Orsino.

 Tae-Gon-Lee's-tower Tower by Tae Gon Lee 15 

“Designers can create amazing three-dimensional objects simply by folding two-dimensional sheets of paper,” Unwin-Barkley explains, noting that her students learned to “crease, pleat, bend, hem, gather, knot, hinge, corrugate, drape, twist, furl, crumple, collapse, wrinkle, facet, curve and wrap materials.” Using Bristol paper for the site-specific installations designed for the shop, one group of students constructed sculptural towers that respond to shelving in the store, while a second group created intriguing screens for window displays.

Before beginning their folded-paper projects, students studied the work of innovative fashion designers who are well represented in the store, including Ray Harris, Ivan Grundahl and Peter Mahler, along with jewelry by designers such as Leo Narducci 60 AP, whose work is also sold there. They also researched the work of leading architects ranging from Frank Gehry to Nader Tehrani BArch 86, the Boston-based architect best known on campus for designing the interior of the Fleet Library at RISD.

“As students, we don’t often get out of the RISD bubble, so this is a good opportunity to go out and have the outside world comment on our work,” says Peter Borges 15 FAV. Without such opportunities, it would be “easy to lose sight of how the general public views what we’re doing,” he adds.

The Foundation Studies work will be on view at Clad In Providence, 497 Angell Street, from April 14 through the end of May. Store hours are 10 am­–5:30 pm, Monday­ through Saturday, and 11:30 am­–5 pm on Sunday.  

related links:
Clad In  


tags: local/regional, Foundation Studies, interdisciplinary, students

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At RISD there's nothing unusual about suddenly finding a doorknob on a tree trunk, shown here across from Carr House,
the charming home of Student Life offices and the student-run Carr Haus Café.