On Thursday, March 21, the student artists who won the RISD Museum’s Sitings 2013 competition discussed their inspiration and their process at an opening reception to celebrate their new work. Nafis White 15 SC and Garcia Sinclair 15 SC spoke about Waiting for Godot, their site-specific installation outside the Radeke Building on Benefit Street, and Lindsay Carone MFA SC 13 discussed Mariner’s Compass, her new piece on view on the Associates’ Bridge connecting the Chace Center and the Radeke Building. Both installations are on display through June 2.
The competition, which has run annually for 18 years, invites RISD students to create site-specific works celebrating the RISD Museum’s architectural idiosyncrasies, its collection and the habits of museum visitors. This year’s competition was juried by artist Alejandro Diaz, whose exhibition RISD Business: Sassy Signs and Sculptures by Alejandro Diaz, is currently on display at the museum. The two winning projects were selected from more than 30 proposals submitted last fall.
At the opening reception, White and Sinclair talked about tapping into their personal experiences as gay women navigating the changing tides of marriage rights in America, an issue that’s in the news almost daily. Their sculpture fuses hundreds of pink triangles – laboriously created in the Foundry – with steel rods, a bolt cutter, a bending machine and a welding torch. The fluid form of the finished piece took shape intuitively, Sinclair says, and is especially appropriate for its location near the busy Benefit Street sidewalk, where pedestrian traffic and movement are almost nonstop.
Lindsay Carone took advantage of the backlighting provided by the Associates’ sleek glass bridge to bring to life the detail and color variations in her nautical ode to the Ocean State and the nation’s first textiles plants. Her quilt-like creation is made from layers of used plastic bags melted together with a household iron. Carone, who quipped about her love-hate relationship with plastic bags, said she was able to put the $1,000 Sitings materials budget to especially good use since her sewing machine bit the dust shortly before she began work.
All of the student artists noted that they’re extremely grateful for the experience. As Deborah Wilde, the museum’s associate educator for Academic Programs points out, Sitings offers an excellent opportunity for students to learn about each phase of exhibiting, from writing a proposal to creating a viable work of art for the space in question to working with museum staff during installation and de-installation. Students also get great public exposure for their work for the three months the installations are on view – and the $300 cash prize each artist takes home just makes it all that much sweeter. –Simone Solondz
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