At RISD, Sculpture is about the growth of the individual as part of a larger community. The department ethos emphasizes visual and critical literacy and intensive skill acquisition in support of conceptually strong creative practices. Encouraged to experiment and push beyond obvious solutions, students learn to think holistically and understand the importance of the work they make as it relates to the world. Ultimately, they're able to produce meaningful work through a fluent command of process and the informed use of materials.
- 4-year undergraduate program
- 2-year graduate program
In the studio
As part of an integrated community, undergraduate and graduate students work together and individually with every material imaginable. The curriculum supports students through a series of courses with the explicit purpose of building skills and literacies that help them understand how to make meaning using boundless materials, methodologies and media.
Charlie Ehrenfried | senior
“My experience in Sculpture has been empowering. Faculty teach us how to work with metal, wood and other materials, and then how to merge that foundation with conceptual thinking. And students are invested in one another’s practices and opinions. Most nights I’m in the studio because that’s where I enjoy being.”
Lisi Raskin | department head
“Sculpture faculty represent myriad viewpoints and approaches to interdisciplinary making. Our philosophy is to teach from our strengths while learning from each other and our students. We acknowledge that we have a lot to teach and we welcome the challenge of keeping our perspectives, approaches and knowledge bases current, expansive and open so that we can best serve our students, regardless of their background and interests.”
After RISD, Sculpture graduates join an extensive network of alumni leaders, many of whom have established themselves as studio artists, fabricators, teachers, designers, art writers, curators, gallerists, administrators, exhibition designers, puppeteers, performances artists, software designers and more. Over the years, these alumni have created a blueprint that can be followed, reformatted and tailored to each graduate’s personal aspirations.
Alumni at work
Best known for his exuberant, large-scale knit and sewn sculpture, Miami-based artist Jim Drain also draws, paints and makes installations using colorful, quirky found and recycled objects. The former member of Forcefield—the influential art collective known for blending music, performance, film and installations—recently collaborated with RISD students to develop a site-specific piece for the new US Embassy compound in Rabat, Morocco.
Through her experimental work, Andrea Zittel investigates structures and habits of everyday life—from clothing and shelter to the concept of measured time—and reveals their arbitrary nature. In 2000 she established A-Z West, a desert compound in Joshua Tree, CA, where she conducts experiments like the Wagon Station Encampment project, a “village” of pods where guests live in exchange for working on site. “You need to be able to see one’s life with a kind of perspective,” she says, “to understand how society works and how your decisions fit into that.”
New York-based artist Janine Antoni is renowned for using her body as creative instrument and site of meaning in works that blend performance, sculpture, video and photography. The 1998 MacArthur Award winner exhibits internationally and her work is collected in such major museums as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Whitney, MoMA and the Guggenheim in NYC, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. “Making something is like a fight,” Antoni has said in interviews. “Usually the material resists me all the way. If I can stay open… the material starts to speak back and tell me what it wants to be.”
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