Fresh Vision for Local Farming
After a busy year splitting her time and energy between studio work and community engagement, Tara Gupta 18 FAV wanted to bring the two together this summer—to make a positive impact through her creative talents.
"Doing work that people will see, will see for a reason, and will have an impact... I really craved that during the school year," says the rising junior in Film/Animation/Video. Thanks to funding from a Textron Charitable Trust Summer Fellowship, which is managed by the RISD Career Center, she was able put her passions into practice as a videography intern at Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a local food-system nonprofit.
"I really appreciate the way Farm Fresh approaches systemic change," says Gupta, who made a series of five short videos about the organization and the community programs it offers that will be featured on the nonprofit's soon-to-be redesigned website. And as one of four students who received the $2,500 Textron award to support a summer internship "that employs creative thinking to solve problems, drive economic development or address social issues," she enjoyed a higher degree of creative freedom than she might have in a more traditional communications internship.
"It's been really great working with Tara," says Thea Upham, Farm Fresh RI's director of community access programs, who helped recruit the FAV major based on her Leadership and Community Engagement (LACE) Fellowship experience with another Providence-based food nonprofit, Southside Community Land Trust. "I [wanted] to get RISD interns [and] fit them into different projects," she explains, adding that based on the experience this summer, she hopes to explore future collaborations with the RISD community.
For Gupta, "working in food over the last couple of years has been very important-figuring out how to merge my interests in art and in food systems, access and sustainability." It's a goal that Farm Fresh Communications Director Becca Seggel gave her great latitude to pursue.
"Becca gave me a lot of freedom in terms of how I wanted to construct the videos," which focus on the organization's overall mission and core services, such as farmers' markets and the Farm to Cafeteria educational program. Inspired by her combined experience working in Providence's food-based nonprofit ecosystem, Gupta is taking a year off from RISD to start her own nonprofit that takes full advantage of her skills and approach before returning to complete the Open Media track in FAV.
A native of northern Virginia who studied animation through RISD's Pre-college Program, Gupta both applied to RISD and became an FAV major because they gave her the best chance "to reach the most people possible" through making. Her first year in FAV boosted her confidence in both her technical skills and interactions with clients, she says, adding that RISD's emphasis on critique makes assessing how effectively an organization like Farm Fresh communicates its message a natural part of her creative process.
Gupta is also pleased that as a sophomore she already learned a helpful set of visual tricks to draw from. "I'm throwing in all these things [for the Farm Fresh videos]—all first-year FAV stuff, which is great. When you learn all of these skills you can add creative elements that otherwise I wouldn't imagine myself putting into a nonprofit video."
In the overview video, for instance, she added some AfterEffects animations that she admits are "pretty weird," but got high praise from the people who work for the nonprofit. "If I didn't have my RISD background, I wouldn't feel as comfortable throwing in fun elements like that," she says.
For Gupta, however, her interest in filmmaking ultimately feeds a strong desire to make positive contributions in her community and beyond. For the artist/activist, the design thinking she's learning at RISD is a "way of approaching the world and approaching change" that aligns well with Farm Fresh's organizational culture—and will continue to help satisfy her hunger to push for positive change.
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