BFA | 4-year program

Glass is a dynamic medium with limitless possibilities and a surprising amount of impact in the worlds of art and design. As a Glass major, you'll work with professors and visiting artists in the Hot Shop and beyond to develop your skills in glass blowing, mold making, casting and cold working. Not only does this hands-on training lead to a mastery of skills, it addresses the ever-present question of how material and concept inform one another and lays the foundation for a well-rounded professional studio practice.

Based on the strength of their experience at RISD, Glass alumni tend to remain closely connected with the department. Whether returning as visiting artists and critics or providing internships for current students, they help influence subsequent generations. Accomplished alumni such as Dale Chihuly, Dan Clayman, Karen Lamonte, Judith Schaechter, Tavares Strachan, Bohyun Yoon, Toots Zynsky and many others continue to push the boundaries of the medium and make enormous contributions to advancing the role of glass in contemporary art and design.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • demonstrate technical acuity in glass processes, including casting, moldmaking, hot glass work and coldworking
  • identify, locate and refer to appropriate precedents in developing a body of work and position it within historical and contemporary fine arts contexts
  • exhibit team working skills in the creative process, handling of materials and the use and maintenance of glass facilities and equipment
  • consistently utilize comprehensive safety practices in all aspects of studio work
  • recover gracefully from failure, understanding it as a natural part of the creative process and an opportunity for learning and improving
  • demonstrate conceptual problem-solving skills while employing a rigorous methodology that guides the development of original works of art


Inspiring community

The nature of glass necessitates collaboration among a close-knit community of artists exploring the same medium from a wide range of perspectives. Glass fosters close interactions among undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and visiting artists. Studio work, critiques, seminars and both group and individual projects support full engagement in the exciting dialogues surrounding contemporary art, sculpture, craft and design.

Learning environment

Approximately 30 undergraduates and grad students work in the department's newly renovated Hot Shop, a custom facility offering a half-ton continuous-melt glass furnace, a 700-lb. casting furnace, an extensive Cold Shop, 15 computer programmed kilns and a well-rounded casting facility. One of the favorite features of the department is the Degree Program Workshop - a vibrant series of presentations by visiting artists, critics and curators. Direct interaction with this amazing range of professionals offers students an ideal way to learn about contemporary art, glass and professional practice.

Curriculum

In the first year of the program, sophomores develop conceptual problem solving skills by making work in response to specific assignments and gaining a technical foundation in glass blowing, cold working, mold making and casting. Juniors continue to develop a conceptual and critical vocabulary through rigorous studio work. An intermediate glassblowing studio and a glass history course help refine and strengthen students' understanding of the medium and its origins.

Foundation Year

Fall
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
History of Art + Visual Culture Seminar
Wintersession
Non-major studio elective
Spring
Drawing II
Design II
Spatial Dynamics II
Topics in History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences

Sophomore

Fall
Glass Studio 1A
Beginning Glassworking
Glass Coldworking
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Glass Studio 1B
Glass Casting—Moldmaking
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

Fall
Glass Studio 2A
Glass Degree Program Workshop 2A
Intermediate Glassblowing
Non-major electives
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Glass Studio 2B
Glass Degree Program Workshop 2B
History of Glass
Non-major electives

Senior

Fall
Glass Studio IIIA
Glass Degree Program Workshop 3A
Liberal Arts elective
Wintersession
Non-major Studio elective
Spring
Glass Studio 3B
Glass Degree Program Workshop 3B
Glass IIIB Degree Project
Liberal Arts elective

Thesis project

Throughout the year seniors work on self-directed projects as they define and refine their thesis. Through individual and group critiques with faculty, peers, visiting artists and critics, students develop a significant body of work. Thesis work is presented in public exhibitions both on and off campus. The culmination of the thesis year provides students with the resources needed to prepare for professional practice in the field.

Application requirements

  1. Application form

    You'll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the application form provided on the Common Application website. There is a non-refundable application fee of $60 to use this service; eligible students may apply for a fee waiver.

  2. Academic transcripts

    Applicants must provide official transcripts of all secondary academic work through the most recent grading period. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common Application, Parchment, email or mail. If your academic credentials are not written in English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator prior to submission.

  3. Tests

    SAT or ACT

    All applicants are required to submit the results of the SAT or the ACT (American College Testing program). Subject tests are not required.

    RISD’s CEEB code number for the SAT is 003726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

    TOEFL or IELTS

    All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Since proficiency in English is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants must attain an acceptable score on either test; RISD requires a minimum result of 93 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on IELTS. Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take six weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD.

  4. Portfolio

    Your portfolio should show a selection of 12–20 examples of your best recent artwork. We suggest that the work reflect the full range of your ideas, interests, experience and abilities in the arts to date. Work presented can be in any medium (including film or video), in finished or sketch form, and the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration. We strongly recommend that you include a few pages from your journal or sketchbook to indicate your process of research, thinking and investigation.

    Do not submit a multi-page PDF with individual and unrelated works on each page since this is likely to exceed the limit of 20 examples we’ve requested. The only exception to this is a portfolio piece like a graphic novel where multiple pages are part of a single, cohesive work.

    Portfolios must be submitted through SlideRoom, an online portfolio service (which requires an additional $10 fee).

  5. The Assignment

    Choose one of the following three prompt options and create two responses using any medium you prefer (no restrictions).

    We consider this assignment to be as much about process as presentation and encourage you to consider your submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and risk-taking more than as final presentations or examples of technical proficiency. No particular outcome is valued more than another, so feel free to explore the full range of possible expression in these works.

    Each of these prompts has more than one meaning or usage and you might want to begin by referring to dictionary sources to expand your initial reaction about a direction.

    • plastic
    • collect
    • threshold

    Please upload your responses in the specific section of SlideRoom dedicated to these works. (Do not include them in the Portfolio area of SlideRoom.)

    If the file size of either of your responses exceeds 10 MB, please embed a link to direct us to another viewing platform such as a personal website, Vimeo, etc.

    In the SlideRoom submission section for your two works, we also ask you to reflect on the two responses that you are sharing and provide a brief response to this question: What are the other directions or ideas you would explore as a next step?

  6. Writing sample

    Submit one example of your writing, up to 650 words. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

    You will find the writing prompts in the Personal Essay section of the Common Application.

    While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don't hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a distinctive personal position in the samples you submit.

  7. Letter(s) of recommendation

    Although not required, these letters can be very helpful to your application. One letter is suggested, although as many as three may be submitted. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers or other professionals who have firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student.

    Please use the Common Application to invite your recommendation writers to submit letters through that service. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to admissions@risd.edu.

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles