To enhance the department-specific curriculum in each degree program, Graduate Studies offers studios and seminars designed to support exploration of issues and practices of interest to advanced-level students in all disciplines. These GS electives also help ground studio explorations in the context of contemporary theory and practice.

Graduate-level interdisciplinary studios + seminars

Graduate Studies electives provide opportunities to:

• explore areas of interest beyond program requirements
• collaborate on projects with students from diverse disciplines
• connect intellectually with the larger graduate student population

Not all of the following courses are offered every year, but this list gives a sense of the types of questions and conversations supported by the Graduate Studies curriculum. All GS electives are open to any graduate student, without prerequisites.

  1. Encountering Things

    This class explores the ways that objects and bodies come into contact with one another, asking how objects adorn, articulate, equip, augment, and constitute the person. Our exploration follows three tracks: we examine artifacts from the fields of design, fashion and medical engineering, as well as experimental propositions from the visual and conceptual arts, literature and film; we pair these case studies with scholarship that critically engages issues of embodiment and material agency; and we attend to the political and ethical debates raised by dynamic conceptions of posthuman bodies. Interdisciplinary readings across the humanities and social sciences include: Appadurai, Freud, Haraway, Hayles, Heidegger, Latour, Marx, Miller, and Scary.

    Graduate elective - seminar

  2. Collegiate Teaching Practicum

    This course helps prepare graduate students to be effective educators while fostering a community of shared ideas. Designed to support graduate students while they are teaching in RISD's Wintersession, the course is a practicum in which participants discuss practical and theoretical concerns related to collegiate teaching and learning. As a forum, the course provides a space for group reflection on teaching experiences and challenges in addition to developing effective learning and assessment strategies. Through structured feedback from faculty, students evaluate their teaching effectiveness and document their development as teacher-scholars through preparing a well-designed teaching portfolio. As an immersive teaching and learning experience, graduate students will have an opportunity to share and apply knowledge of student learning and an awareness of student diversity to their discipline-focused art and design instruction.

    Graduate elective - seminar

    Also offered as TLAD-010G; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  3. ISP Major

    The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses.

    Permission of Instructor and GPA of 3.0 or higher is required.

    Register by completing the Independent Study Application available on the Registrar's website; course is not available via web registration.

  4. Professional Internship

    The professional Internship provides valuable, exposure to a professional setting, enabling students to better establish a career path and define practical aspirations. Internship proposals are carefully vetted to determine legitimacy and must meet the contact hour requirements listed in the RISD Course Announcement.

  5. Artists' Writings

    This seminar explores the various ways modern and contemporary artists have written about their work from the 1950s to the present. By examining statements, journals, notebooks, interviews, diaries, essays, and critical texts by a variety of artists - spanning Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Jack Tworkov through to Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, and Eva Hesse - as well as more recent figures such as Jenny Holzer, Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, and the Critical Art Ensemble, the differing genres that artists have used to describe their work and that of others begins to emerge. Specific consideration is given to the ways in which these literary forms structure the content and meanings of artists' work. The course is constructed around in-class discussion of assigned texts, slide lectures, and visits to each student's studio. The seminar aims to extend the range of texts currently read by students, and additionally serves as a springboard for the development of the graduate thesis.

    Graduate elective - seminar

  6. Collegiate Teaching Practicum

    This course helps prepare graduate students to be effective educators while fostering a community of shared ideas. Designed to support graduate students while they are teaching in RISD's Wintersession, the course is a practicum in which participants discuss practical and theoretical concerns related to collegiate teaching and learning. As a forum, the course provides a space for group reflection on teaching experiences and challenges in addition to developing effective learning and assessment strategies. Through structured feedback from faculty, students evaluate their teaching effectiveness and document their development as teacher-scholars through preparing a well-designed teaching portfolio. As an immersive teaching and learning experience, graduate students will have an opportunity to share and apply knowledge of student learning and an awareness of student diversity to their discipline-focused art and design instruction.

    Graduate elective - seminar

    Also offered as TLAD-010G; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  7. Mapping The Intelligence Of Your Work

    This seminar is for graduate students who are preparing their written thesis. Within the context of this writing-intensive course, we examine the thesis form as an expressive opportunity to negotiate a meaningful integration of our visual work, how we think about it, and how we wish to communicate it to others. In support of this exploration, weekly thematic writing sessions are offered to open the imaginative process and to stimulate creative thinking as a means of discovering the underlying intelligence of our work. In addition, we also engage in individual studio visits to identify and form a coherent 'voice' for the thesis, one that parallels our actual art involvement. Literary communications generated out of artists' and designers' process are also examined. The outcome of this intensive study is the completion of a draft of the thesis.

    Graduate elective - seminar

  8. Origin Point: Graduate Thesis Ideation Workshops

    The purpose of this seminar is to unearth a direction - an origin point - for your graduate thesis and to jump-start the writing process for the Master's written document. Organized as a series of writing intensive workshops, this forum will enable you to explore relevant ideas, themes, core values, and to conduct research in support of the inquiry process. The process involves seeking out and scrutinizing various angles of your perspective as an artist / designer. You will write from these angles to discover the emerging aspects of solutions that matter. Each class will suggest a specific theme or principle of inflection to precipitate what is needed for the work's progress. Included will be several forms of writing: profile, review, narrative essay, poem, report, extended caption, as well as several levels of research: archival, bibliographic, fieldwork, and interview. Emphasis will also be on maps of meaning that will be used as a way to further processes of ideation and understanding. At the conclusion of the seminar you will have a conceptual focus for your thesis that is clearly formulated visually and verbally. With this is place, the summer months can then be used productively to further the breadth and depth of this initial idea through open-ended exploration and self-generated work.

    Graduate elective - seminar

    Open to first-year graduate students only.

  9. Investigations: Betwixt & Between

    The unknown gap of the 'betwixt and between' is a space of great curiosity and charge. It is a space that has captured the imagination of many artists, designers and writers throughout time. The main interest in this course is to investigate the nature of this space, how it is experienced, understood and given meaning from multiple viewpoints in art, design and literature, and ways in which it can become a space of significance for our practice as artists and designers. As background to our own research, we examine features of the betwixt and between as it is evoked in the writings of the pre-Socratic thinkers, the theories of anthropologist Victor Turner, the lectures of composer John Cage, William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin's book titled The Third Mind, and philosopher Gaston Bachelard's view of spatial poetics. Artists also walk us to that space, as is the case with Eva Hesse's threshold Works on Paper, Anselm Kiefer's preoccupation with ambivalence, and Anish Kapoor's sublime voids. Most important, we will make and write as a way to see and understand the various forms and ways the betwixt and between presents itself in our own work.

    Graduate elective

  10. Cross-disciplinary Color Lab

    This studio-based course will provide the foundation necessary to understand basic color theory and practice in art and design. An historical and cultural perspective will be introduced to inform ongoing color studies executed in the studio. Students will acquire the vocabulary to articulate color phenomena and the means to exploit the expressive potential of color in their work. Color studies will be principally created with gouache and a variety of other analog materials and means will also be explored.

    Graduate elective - studio

  11. From The Alternative To The Institutional: A Curatorial Practicum

    This graduate-level seminar investigates critical issues within contemporary art through the lens of curatorial practice. It examines the practical, conceptual, discursive, and social processes of curating across a variety of platforms. The course is designed to explore the many roles of the artist in society and concurrently, contemporary thought within the visual arts through a history of and hands-on approach to exhibition-making. Meetings will consist of lectures, readings and writing assignments, off-site visits, group critiques and one-on-one studio visits. Special emphasis will be placed on current trends and shifts in artistic and curatorial production, theory, and criticism. Students will examine case studies of a range of curatorial practices (from alternative art spaces to private collections to museums) and work collaboratively to conceptualize, research and develop curatorial projects throughout the semester, resulting in a practical outcome: a curated show in New York.

    Graduate elective - seminar

  12. Public Art: History, Theory and Practice

    This course offers the opportunity to discover the creative and career possibilities in the growing interdisciplinary field of public art and public practice. During the first half of the course, students research and present aspects of each weekly topic, including: pivotal events and artworks that formed the history of public art from the early 20th century to the present; individual artist's work and approaches to site-specificity; current debates around defining the public, public space, and community; temporary vs. permanent work; controversies in public art; memorials, monuments, and anti-monuments; a case study of design team practice in a public/private development; public art administration models, among other topics. During the second half, students work both individually and collaboratively on proposals and projects: a proposal for a memorial; proposals for a specific site in Providence; and temporary artworks sited in Providence.

    Contact Info: janetzweig@me.com

    Graduate elective - studio

  13. Participartory Exhibition Design

    Designing participatory exhibition spaces requires a deep understanding of social and time-based interactions between recipients and immersive environments. In this course we will gain knowledge of the history of exhibiting and participatory approaches in galleries, museums, and public space. We will discuss the differences and similarities of participatory art and participatory exhibition design. We will explore models of communication to shape the interactions between artist, art work, recipient, and exhibition space. As designers, we will play with gaps in the communication process to allow undefined exchange and play to happen. We will explore the relevance of movement and time referring to performance art and contact improvisation. Finally, we will test out digital possibilities and old-school analogue hands-on media to immerse into multi-sensory exhibition experiences. Different examples of current participatory exhibition practices show tools and ways to engage the audience in multiple ways. The outcome of this course will be your own participatory exhibitions.

    Graduate elective - studio

  14. Interdisciplinary Collaborations

    Interdisciplinary Collaboration

    Graduate students from all disciplines will develop their work by finding partners from other fields. We will look at examples of contemporary artists who have developed content by collaborating with scientists, engineers, writers, and other professionals. We will discuss the range of collaborative and cooperative approaches and strategies. The group will talk to teams who have worked together.

    By the end of the term, each student will be expected to have made a connection with someone from another field with whom they can work and who can contribute in some way to the student's thesis work. Connections to possible collaborators will be developed through the course. There will be readings, videos, and Skype visits. There will be one trip to New York to visit collaborative teams.

    Graduate elective - studio

  15. The Artist and The Museum

    This seminar will consider the various ways in which manifold artists from Marcel Duchamp through Joseph Cornell, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Louise Lawler, Fred Wilson, Mark Dion and the Atlas Group have made aspects of the museum a subject matter of their work. Alternatively engaged in a critique of museum practice or romantic evocations of the past, many artists for the past seventy years have addressed the staging devices that museums utilize to confer aura on the work of art as well as the makeup of their collections, categorization and behind the scenes storerooms and archives. This history will be linked to an expanding body of writing that has emerged in the past three decades given to the differing discursive narratives that museums and their archives employ. Writers such as Sigmund Freud, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Rosalind Krauss, Douglas Crimp, Ralph Rugoff, and Susan Stewart will be considered.

    Graduate elective - seminar

  16. The Computational Line

    This course uses drawing as the territory for inquiry into computational topics that span from ancient history and the first mathematical algorithm to contemporary technologies that use pixel-based images to augment human perception. The concept, topic, and idea of the line is respected simultaneously as first geometric symbol, unit of perception, element of architecture, and foil to both pixels and material. Students will develop drawing apparatuses while considering perspectives of anthropologists (Tim Ingold, for example) art historians (Deanna Petherbridge) and architects (Marco Frascari). The relationship between perception, depth, and figure will is a recurring theme as is the tension between a line of code, a line of inquiry, and a line on paper.

    Graduate elective - studio

  17. Computer Programming For Studio Practice

    This course focuses on the craft of computer programming with an emphasis on strategies and techniques that can advance or disrupt an existing studio-based practice. Accepting the principle that computation should augment rather than replace disciplinary cultures and ways of making, a project-based pedagogy places an emphasis on hybrid material-digital apparatuses and media, augmented reality, print-digital workflows, and/or web based installations. Theory and criticism will be drawn from an attention to computational ways of making. In addition to news tools and media, students in this course will explore if and how coding changes the nature of a "work" or a "project." Students will address, for example, whether the code itself exists to serve an existing artistic agenda, become a body of work, or both.

    Graduate elective - studio

  18. What Next?(making A) Living As An Artist

    What Next? (Making a) Living as an Artist

    For this Professional Practices course, we explore the practical possibilities for your life after art school. Emphasis is on balancing your artistic practice with the financial demands of everyday life, on integrating your career path(s) with your artistic values and integrity, on developing realistic goals and strategies, and on finding "branching paths" that open new prospects.

    Various avenues are explored, such as: exhibiting in galleries and museums, starting a business, working on commission, art writing, social practice, and forming a collective, a publication, or an independent gallery. Current financial, practical, and ethical ramifications of each of these avenues are considered. We discuss what matters when deciding where, geographically, to begin your career.

    The course provides a number of skills: creating proposals, presentations, artists' statements, and resumes; and obtaining grants, residencies, commissions, art-related employment, studio space, and representation. Also touched upon are art law, copyright, budgeting, and taxes for artists.

    There are guest speakers from galleries, public art agencies, design businesses, and a trip to New York City. We meet RISD graduate alumni who are currently developing their careers as artists and designers, and hear about their paths from graduation to living as artists.

    Graduate elective - seminar

    Open to undergraduate seniors

  19. Digital Sense

    How can timeless human activities such as drawing and painting, relegated to the realm of the analogue, meaningfully engage increasingly powerful tools such as 3D capturing devices, 3D modeling platforms, and contemporary output methods such as 3D printing? How can we learn to intuit in the realm of the virtual and what are the boundaries of this experience? This course allows new ways of "seeing" and "feeling" and uses a computational framework in the design process. Rather than take a conventional approach based on the technical aspects of a specific software program, students are exposed to a rich diversity of potential work flows. The goal of this course is enhancing personal craft and technique through these digital tools while exploring new potential approaches to advanced technology.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    Also offered as IDISC-4075; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  20. Digital Sense

    How can timeless human activities such as drawing and painting, relegated to the realm of the analogue, meaningfully engage increasingly powerful tools such as 3D capturing devices, 3D modeling platforms, and contemporary output methods such as 3D printing? How can we learn to intuit in the realm of the virtual and what are the boundaries of this experience? This course allows new ways of "seeing" and "feeling" and uses a computational framework in the design process. Rather than take a conventional approach based on the technical aspects of a specific software program, students are exposed to a rich diversity of potential work flows. The goal of this course is enhancing personal craft and technique through these digital tools while exploring new potential approaches to advanced technology.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    Also offered as GRAD-4075; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  21. Ethics Of Humanitarian Design

    Designers and artists have become central to projects of "humanitarian help" across the world. Whether they are designing refugee camps, village schools, water filtration systems, or textiles, they are seen to be critical in confronting challenges of poverty. Yet as form-givers, designers and artists not only make physical objects, but also shape our understanding of the problem at hand as well as the profile of the person in need. This power to represent, to define both the subject and the context, demands that designer and artist should not only be technically proficient and aesthetically capable, but also be able to think about the ethics of intervention.

    Whose convenience do we design for? What critical aspects of the situation, be they historical, cultural, linguistic, geopolitical, do we censor with our designs? Do we make others' problems appear in need of our solutions? If we take these questions as a starting point, what sort of knowledge, what sort of sensibility is needed to lean to talk, to see, to translate, across difference, without turning whom we seek to help into convenient caricatures? Can art and design only provide stopgap solutions, leaving larger political and policy discussions for other disciplines? Or can they address questions beyond the object and change our understanding of the problem itself.

    This course asks these hard questions and unpacks them with the help of rigorous theoretical thinking and historical study. This is not a "how-to" course. Nor will we use ready-made definitions of ethics to endorse convenient and familiar ways of working. This is a course about thinking. We slowly shape an understanding of ethics as a way of introducing reflective friction in our modes of operation and learn to criticize what we must simultaneously use. Course material includes mind-opening historical and theoretical texts, uncomfortable fiction, and fraught films.

    Graduate elective - seminar

  22. Introduction To Research For Art and Design

    This course will introduce art and design graduate students to empirical, primarily qualitative, and arts-based research methodologies prevalent in contemporary arts and arts education research practice. Students will be introduced to the concept of research methodology and the various ontological and epistemological paradigms that inform diverse methodologies. During this methodological exploration, students will learn about the research process from identifying a research topic through a reflection on personal interests and experiences and a critical review of literature, to situating the research problem within a body of literature and conceptual framework, with the concomitant objective of refining students' research literacy skills. Students may develop a research design for their thesis or a practice based study of teaching as a course project.

    Graduate elective - seminar

  23. Alchemy Research Studio

    This is a semester long research study group focused on Alchemy and Glass. As a discipline and a material, Glass is inherently connected to Alchemy. Their combined histories have shaped our understanding of the relationship between material and meaning, the role of process in art and science and, ultimately, the ways in which making shapes knowledge. One of the goals of this research group is to explore the conceptual and material potential of Alchemy through Glass. Our research will combine the examination of practical, theoretical and historical texts along with "hands-on" experiments in Glass Department Shops. The group will meet weekly for discussions, research presentations, lectures and working/lab sessions. As the semester progresses the direction of our research will be determined by the materials brought forth by the group.

    Open to graduate students only.

    Permission of Instructor required.

    Also offered as GLASS-7016 and IDISC-7016; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  24. Alchemy Research Studio

    This is a semester long research study group focused on Alchemy and Glass. As a discipline and a material, Glass is inherently connected to Alchemy. Their combined histories have shaped our understanding of the relationship between material and meaning, the role of process in art and science and, ultimately, the ways in which making shapes knowledge. One of the goals of this research group is to explore the conceptual and material potential of Alchemy through Glass. Our research will combine the examination of practical, theoretical and historical texts along with "hands-on" experiments in Glass Department Shops. The group will meet weekly for discussions, research presentations, lectures and working/lab sessions. As the semester progresses the direction of our research will be determined by the materials brought forth by the group.

    Open to graduate students only.

    Permission of Instructor required.

    Also offered as GLASS-7016 and GRAD-7016; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles Theory + History of Art + Design