At RISD students approach glass as both an artist's material with remarkable expressive range and a studio discipline imbued with limitless potential, incorporating sculpture, architecture, design, craft and decorative art. Both undergraduate and graduate students in Glass discover an open, flexible and expansive studio discipline built on a unique history that dovetails with rapidly expanding dialogues defining innovation and creative practice. The department emphasizes a commitment to both material and conceptual investigations of glass, helping students to refine an individual perspective through disciplined experimentation and rigorous critical inquiry.
- 4-year undergraduate program
- MFA / Post-B
- 2-year graduate program/ 1-year post-baccalaureate program
In the studio
Both undergraduate and graduate students have full access to a newly renovated Hot Shop, along with a Cold Shop and kiln and casting rooms. In addition, all students are given individual studio spaces and access to refined installation spaces both within the department and elsewhere on campus.
Mays Albaik | MFA candidate
“The diverse practices that emerge from the Glass department develop through conversations in the hotshop around glass, an engagement with process, tacit knowledge, and an understanding of how a material is a collaborator, its properties couriers of content.”
Jocelyne Prince | department head
"Recent scientific research locates silica, a base component of glass, at the center of exploding stars. This would-be stardust fuels our department—whether that means melting glass as it was done during the middle ages or exploring high tech optics. The strength of our Glass majors lay in their ability to delve into conceptual and technical problems through wide-ranging collaboration and unreserved, hands-on material investigation."
Based on the strength of their experience at RISD, Glass alumni tend to remain closely connected with the department. Whether returning as visiting artists and critics or providing internships for current students, they help influence subsequent generations. Accomplished alumni such as Dale Chihuly, Dan Clayman, Karen Lamonte, Judith Schaechter, Tavares Strachan, Bohyun Yoon, Toots Zynsky and many others continue to push the boundaries of the medium and make enormous contributions to advancing the role of glass in contemporary art and design.
Alumni at work
Multimedia artist and 2006 MacArthur Award winner Josiah McElheny is fascinated with space, time and the notions of infinity and purity. While at RISD in the mid-1980s, he studied in Rome through the school’s European Honors Program and worked with master glassblowers such as Ronald Wilkins in London. McElheny now lives and works in New York City, where he’s represented by Andrea Rosen Gallery and has recently exhibited at White Cube in London and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
Based in Dubai and Chennai, India, glass artist Anjali Srinivasan creates provocative original works that are shown worldwide, with recent exhibitions in New York, New Delhi, Seattle and Sydney, Australia, among other locations. She recently has a successful solo show at the DakshinaChitra art center in Chennai, and has taught at the famed Pilchuck Glass School, an international center for glass art in Seattle, WA, founded in 1971 by fellow alumnus Dale Chihuly. Anjali also creates work on commission and travels the world teaching workshops, offering demonstrations, speaking about her research and serving as a visiting artist and critic for a wide range of cultural organizations.
Born in the Bahamas and based in NYC, Tavares Strachan is known for exploring environment, materials and the limits of the human body in his work. He often works on a massive scale, harvesting a 4.5-ton block of ice from the Arctic Circle for The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want and “showing” nine years of work in a 20,000-sf industrial space for the closed exhibition seen/unseen. Continually challenging the idea that place delimits identity and experience, Strachan represented the Bahamas at the 55th Venice Biennale with the multi-sensory Polar Eclipse, an installation documenting his voyage to the North Pole.