Preserving Ideas: Why Write at RISD?

Writing about, around and through your work is an essential part of graduate education at RISD, and the creation of a written thesis is a graduation requirement for master’s degrees. 

The approach at RISD is to think of the written thesis as a natural and necessary extension of studio practice. In the process of organizing and articulating thoughts in the form of writing, students often discover the core concepts and basic rationale underlying their work. In fact, as much as the work drives and directs what you write about it, the act of writing about it will help further clarify your conceptual thinking.

Students work with a thesis advisor and often turn to the RISD Writing Center for additional assistance in thinking through and producing a final document. Thesis review committees typically include selected RISD faculty along with outside professionals from a wide variety of fields, which creates a rich and rewarding environment for critical dialogue.

“The process of writing a RISD thesis is rarely straightforward, efficient or methodological,” notes Anne West, an adjunct faculty member in Graduate Studies and author of Mapping the Intelligence of Artistic Work: An Explorative Guide to Making, Thinking, and Writing. “As we search with words, we find our vision and voice in the intimate tension between sensations and writing, in the insistence of our questions and insights born from experiments, in comments offered during critiques and in the rigor of our research.” The ultimate goal at RISD is less to explain the work than to “write together with it,” as West puts it.

Grad Studies Foreground Image 5
A gallery visitor checks out one of the many interactive installations often found at the grad shows.