Gallery Goes Global

Gallery Goes Global

Claire Richey 18 SC made Escapism while on global exchange at Utrecht University of the Arts.

When students participate in a five-week Wintersession or summer program or the five-month RISD in Rome or RISD in Seoul experiences, the evolution of thought and approach sparked by a global experience is readily apparent in studio and crit. But since the artifacts from the experience—the work itself—is seldom shared more broadly, they become relics of a perspective-changing, practice-altering experience.

With Time. Space. Place: Global Thoughts and Practices, RISD Global strives to showcase the significant material accomplishments of these journeys. The exhibition, which opened at Woods-Gerry Gallery on September 14, features the work of approximately 60 students who have participated in 20 disparate programs over the past year in Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Cuba, Brazil and other countries.

“This is the first time we’ve had a show highlighting all the off-campus programs as well as the faculty-led research at the intersections of globalization, art and design,” says RISD Global Director Gwen Farrelly. “The work is beautiful and important to share, but the exhibition is also a really good tool to assess global engagement through actual practice. It’s helpful for students and [everyone else at RISD] to see how these experiences impact their progress.”

Expanding on a 2014 exhibition about the RISD in Rome program, the current exhibition provides a good marker of growth for the evolving program in the Eternal City. “You can see through the students’ work that we are engaging more approaches, more technology…our reach is broader,” Farrelly explains. For instance, the application of emerging fabrication technologies—enabled through a new collaboration with Famo Cose maker space in Rome—was evident in the irreverent student films coming out of Sensing the City, a 2017 summer course taught by Associate Professor Paolo Cardini.

The exhibition at Woods-Gerry Gallery features work by 60 students studying in 20 different global programs.
Charlie Ehrenfried 18 SC performs at the exhibition opening.

The expansion of scope in Rome is also evident in I Found My Baby, an ambitious work Charlie Ehrenfried 18 SC performed at the opening by pacing through the gallery in quasi-Renaissance attire, singing in the plaintive style of a cantor. “This is the third time I’ve performed this piece and the first time I’ve done it in a domestic space,” the Sculpture senior says. “I’m really appreciating the difference between each of the audiences,” he adds, explaining that the first two performances were while he was studying in Rome last spring with Associate Professor Angela Dufresne and RISD in Rome Director Ezio Genovesi.

The outcomes of more abbreviated Wintersession and summer programs were no less arresting. “All of these programs and all of this work are completed in only five weeks,” notes Associate Director of Off-Campus Learning Valeria Albani in pointing out her favorites in the show. “They’re all like little miracles in a way.” From paper lanterns sculpted in Japan to digitally sewn sketchbooks memorializing an experience in Venice, ambition and freedom were evident throughout.

A collaborative book entitled Argentina: Hi/Low Tech presents the outcome of a Wintersession 2016 course led by Assistant Professor Alejandro Borsani and Associate Professor Paula Gaetano Adi in their native country. The lively, illustrated volume chronicles the group’s experience exploring the “hybrid” approaches to making in Argentina.

One of the participants, Philip Bayer 19 BRDD ID/CS, says he went to Buenos Aires with few preconceived notions of its culture but left with an abiding interest in the work of writer Jorge Luis Borges and was inspired to create a digital object based on his short story The Aleph. “I started to ask bigger questions about industrial design’s history and the way it exists throughout the world,” Bayer explains. “Our experience pushed me to be self-directed and actually helped me to feel more like an artist.”

Time. Space. Place: Global Thoughts and Practices continues at Woods-Gerry through October 1.

—Lauren Maas / photos by Lauren Maas + RISD Exhibitions

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