Support for Creative Transformation

Support for Creative Transformation

“Every piece I make provides a little more information about who I am as a creative person,” says Apparel Design major Levi Campello 19 AP, who begins his junior year this fall. The California native came to RISD expecting to study painting but realized during Foundation year that his interests extend beyond his love of fine arts practices.

“Every piece I make provides a little more information about who I am as a creative person.”

Campello began considering Apparel Design because he has always been interested in fashion, and the opportunity to travel to New York last September as a model in the department’s first-ever Collection runway show at New York Fashion Week sealed the deal. “It was an amazing experience,” he recalls—“like looking into the future and seeing the end goal of a RISD education.”

Appreciative of the one-on-one attention he gets in Apparel Design, Campello is inspired by faculty members who are also actively pursuing their own practices, like Assistant Professor Gwen van den Eijnde. “His work is so fabulous and in your face,” Campello gushes. “And he’s always pushing us to think outside the box—to reach back in time for ideas.”

A sketch of recent work.

For instance, for a project last spring Campello made good use of the RISD Museum’s Donghia Costume & Textiles Study Center to examine Victorian-era mourning wear and lace. “I’ve been working with a lot of three-dimensional pleats,” he explains, “and it was great to see those historic pieces up close. The History of Dress class that’s mandatory for sophomores has also informed a lot of my design choices.”

“Beyond the finances, the scholarship confirms that this community cares for me and is willing to fight for me.”

Citing the help he received in landing a menswear internship for the summer, Campello points out that at RISD “if you’re motivated, people are willing to work with you and help you figure things out.” As a low-income student, he relies on financial aid and scholarships and was delighted to learn in January that he’d been selected as one of the first recipients of the Rosanne Somerson Scholarship. The new fund is named in honor of RISD President Rosanne Somerson 76 ID, an alumna herself and the first to lead the college.

President Somerson (second from left) with RISD’s first three Somerson Scholars.

“This scholarship means that I don’t have to take out any loans to cover the cost of my education,” says Campello, “which really lifts a burden off my shoulders. And beyond the finances, it confirms that this community cares for me and is willing to fight for me.”

Campello’s parents have always been supportive as well, which was particularly important during his first semester at RISD, which he describes as “emotionally, mentally and physically taxing.” In fact, when asked if he would recommend RISD to others, he says: “It’s not for everyone. You have to be determined and strong—for yourself and for others in the community. You have to reach inside and find your inner strength.”

Now that he has done that, Campello is fully focused on developing his own voice and joining the larger design conversation in the years to come. “I’ve had to work hard for everything I have,” he says. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing where the next two years at RISD take me.”

Simone Solondz / photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH

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