Based on the philosophy that all first-year undergraduate students benefit from a shared understanding of RISD’s approach to studio learning, freshmen follow the same studio curricula—known as Experimental and Foundation Studies. Each of the three programs of study meets one full day per week, with students expected to work on an ongoing series of challenging assignments outside of class time. Faculty work closely with students, offering ongoing guidance and feedback. Group critiques provide important opportunities for students to present their own work and support that of their peers.
Three core studios
Studio | Drawing
At RISD students pursue drawing as both a powerful way to investigate the world and an essential activity intrinsic to art and design practice. The studio becomes a laboratory of varied and challenging activities in which to investigate materiality, imagined situations, idea generation and the translation of the observable world.
Studio | Design
In this studio, students explore how to organize visual and other sensory elements in order to understand perceptual attributes and convey meaningful messages through objects, spaces and experiences.
Studio | Spatial Dynamics
This studio-based inquiry into physical, spatial and temporal phenomena considers force—the consequence of energy—and its effect on structure. Students explore physical, spatial and temporal phenomena through a range of analogue and digital processes.
In the studio
Faculty members work closely with students, emphasizing rigorous critical inquiry and independent learning while offering ongoing guidance and feedback. Projects are designed to encourage exploration, questioning and risk-taking. At the end of each project, critiques are held so that students can discuss their intentions and processes, and reflect on the capacity of the work to embody ideas and emotions.
An expansive exhibition at Woods-Gerry focuses on the inquiry at the heart of the first-year Experimental and Foundation Studies program.
An extensive range of virtual programming helps returning students consider how they’ll contribute to the discourse around racial justice.
Associate Professor Paula Gaetano-Adi experiments with an interesting way of helping first-year students let go of their assumptions.
Unlike RISD’s 16 discipline-specific undergraduate studio majors, EFS compares and combines disciplines. It offers a multidisciplinary approach to learning fundamental concepts in studio production while emphasizing process, experimentation and critical thinking and making skills.