Academics Sculpture

Bachelor’s Program

BFA | 4-year program

The department’s curriculum and pedagogy encourage students to develop their work in ways that actively engage intersectional and relational thought and action through both Sculpture studio courses and extensive electives. This praxis-based community focuses on the co-creation of an environment in which all students feel supported, seen and heard, so that they benefit from the individually specific feedback from professors and peers so crucial to their development.

The major studio course sequence forms the backbone of the student experience in Sculpture. As sophomores, students focus on basic skill acquisition, working across wood, metal, casting, performance, installation and video, while also learning about the histories of these skills. Junior year is geared toward developing a personal artistic voice and deepening skill acquisition through intensive studio electives. Students are asked to take command of conceptual and formal concerns and build skills on a project-by-project basis. By senior year, students incorporate skills, literacies and expertise into a final degree project, which culminates in a public group exhibition on campus.

Learning outcomes

Graduates are prepared to:

  • establish a rigorous artistic practice that engages in multidisciplinary pursuits.
  • understand the role of artists on a local and global scale.
  • engage in community arts practices that are well researched and tied to action plans.
  • research and solve problems.
  • utilize skills working with myriad materials and processes.
  • demonstrate the conceptual acumen necessary to express ideas in tangible form.
  • engage in inclusive dialogue about a wide range of art practices and ideas.
  • use a clear artistic voice to articulate meaning visually, verbally and in writing.

Inspiring community

Approximately 50-60 undergraduate and a dozen graduate students in the department are guided and challenged by professors committed to helping them push and refine their own expressive capabilities. Students show mutual respect for each other’s work, offering informal critical feedback and helping peers with projects as needed. The many visiting artists and critics who come to campus each semester provide exposure to a wide range of work and philosophies and contribute to the caliber of critical dialogue.

Learning environment

Undergraduate Sculpture majors work in shared spaces in two locations: the historic Metcalf Building and the Point Street Studios. Metcalf houses a foundry, a newly expanded woodshop and extensive metal fabrication facilities that are maintained by two full-time technicians. The state-of-the-art foundry allows for bronze and aluminum pouring and is equipped to support wax-working, patina and rubber mold-making. As sophomores, students are assigned large blue lockers that serve as a work bench and house personal tools during their three years as Sculpture majors. Each sophomore is also assigned home space in the lofty fourth floor of the Metcalf Building. Juniors and seniors maintain a locker room in Metcalf and have open plan areas with plentiful workspace at Point Street.

Undergraduate student work

Curriculum

Entering the major as sophomores (after RISD's required Foundation Studies year), students focus on such skills as wood and metal fabrication, casting, drawing and figure modeling through classes that emphasize conceptual and technical development. Juniors begin to identify areas for serious conceptual and technical investigation, supported by greater choice of electives such as robotics, advanced fabrication methods and a seminar in contemporary sculpture issues.

Foundation Year

FALL
Drawing I
Design I
Spatial Dynamics I
First-year Literature Seminar
Theory and History of Art and Design I: Global Modernisms
WINTERSESSION
Non-major studio elective
SPRING
Drawing II
Design II
Spatial Dynamics II
Topics in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Theory and History of Art and Design II: Premodern Worlds

Sophomore

FALL
Sophomore Sculpture Studio I
Sculptural Practices I
Sophomore Seminar: Methods, Materials, Makers
Liberal Arts elective
WINTERSESSION
Non-major studio elective
SPRING
Sophomore Sculpture Studio II
Sculptural Practices II
Research Studio I: Archives, Histories and Urgency
Liberal Arts electives

Junior

FALL
Junior Sculpture Studio I
Research Studio II: Community, Site and Ethics
Sculpture studio elective
Liberal Arts electives
WINTERSESSION
Non-major studio elective
SPRING
Junior Sculpture Studio II
Sculpture Seminar II: Visual and Critical Literacies
Sculpture studio elective
Liberal Arts electives

Senior

FALL
Senior Sculpture Studio I
Research Studio III: Sustainable Studio Practices
Open elective
Liberal Arts electives
WINTERSESSION
Non-major studio elective
SPRING
Senior Sculpture Degree Project
Liberal Arts electives

Senior degree project

During their senior year, students become increasingly self-directed, delving into their own research methodology and integrating conceptual concerns with technical skills. Professional practices workshops during the fall semester and individualized guidance during the spring semester help seniors prepare for life after graduation. The final semester culminates in a thesis and degree project that articulates the central concerns behind each student’s art practice.

Application requirements

  1. First-year applicants

    You’ll begin and manage your RISD application process by completing the Common Application. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $60 to use this service, plus a nonrefundable $10 fee to submit a required online portfolio via SlideRoom. Learn more about the first-year application here.

    Transfer applicants

    Submit your RISD application form, and all other credentials, through the RISD Applicant Portal. The application fee is $60, plus a nonrefundable $10 fee to submit a required online portfolio via SlideRoom. Learn more about the transfer application here.

  2. First-year applicants

    Applicants must provide official transcripts of all secondary academic work through the most recent grading period. Your counselor may submit your transcript through the Common Application, Parchment, email or mail. If your academic credentials are not written in English, they must be translated into English by an approved translator prior to submission.

    Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail. 

    Transfer applicants

    Applicants must provide official transcripts covering at least the last three full years of academic work completed. This should include all college transcripts and, if applicable, your secondary school transcript. If you attend a school where the language of instruction is not English, your academic credentials must be translated into English by an approved translator.

    Transcripts can be submitted by school officials through Parchment, eTranscript, email or mail. 

  3. Test-Optional, SAT and ACT

    RISD is offering all applicants (domestic and international) the ability to be reviewed without submitting results from the SAT or ACT. Students may opt into this process by selecting the test-optional option under the "Testing" portion within the RISD section of the Common Application. For students who choose to submit test scores, RISD will superscore your results, looking at your highest outcome across multiple test dates.

    RISD’s institution code number for the SAT is 3726; for ACT the code number is 003812.

    Transfer credits

    Some Advanced Placement (AP), A-Level classes and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits can be used toward RISD liberal arts requirements. First-year students can transfer a maximum of nine credits from AP courses with a score of 4 or 5, A-Level classes with an earned grade of C or higher or Higher Level IB scores of 5, 6, or 7. RISD will not accept AP or IB credit from art or studio classes. View RISD's full transfer credit policy.

    English language proficiency tests

    All applicants who speak English as a second language, including US citizens, must submit results from any one of these three options: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or Duolingo (an online English test). Since English proficiency is a prerequisite for acceptance, applicants are required to meet a minimum score of at least 93 on the TOEFL, a 6.5 on the IELTS, or 115 on Duolingo.

    Plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS well in advance of the application deadline since it may take three weeks for your scores to be sent to RISD by the test agency. Duolingo test results may take up to four days to be received by RISD.

    The language test requirement may be waived for applicants who have studied in an institution where English is the language of instruction. You must email the Admissions Office at admissions@risd.edu to explain your school history and determine if you are eligible for a waiver.

  4. Portfolio Submission

    Your portfolio should present 12–20 examples of your most recent work that showcases your thinking and making. Once you've started your application to RISD in the Common Application, you will be directed to SlideRoom, a separate online platform, where you will upload your portfolio.

    What to include

    Your selected work should reflect a full range of your ideas, curiosity, experimentation and experience in creating and making. This can include work in any medium, in finished or sketch form, and can be the result of an assigned project or a self-directed exploration.

    We strongly recommend that you include some examples that involve drawing from direct observation (rather than from imagination, a photograph, or video). Drawing is a fundamental tool for visual makers from initial concept to execution, so it is valuable for reviewers to see examples of your experience with and approach to drawing.

    While the majority of your portfolio should feature finished pieces, we suggest including some research or preparatory work in up to three—but no more than three—portfolio uploads/slides. This helps reviewers better understand how you develop your ideas.

    Documentation

    Finally, we strongly discourage including excessive visual elements and text descriptions in a single slide submission. These are difficult to view and are likely to exceed the allowed submission limit. Additional angles or detail shots of some works can be submitted across multiple slide submissions, combined into one composite including no more than 3 images or in a single video upload. Editing is an important part of curating your portfolio. You may need to devise creative solutions to best show your work within the limits of submission guidelines.

    Our recommended file formats are: jpeg, png, gif, mp4 and mov. These formats are most compatible with SlideRoom. Google Drive or zipped files are discouraged.

    You may be interested in attending or watching the recording of one of our Portfolio Tips webinars for more advice on how to approach your RISD application portfolio. 

    The RISD Assignment is no longer part of the application

    After extensive research and discussion, it has become evident that requiring the RISD Assignment functions as a barrier for applicants and is in direct conflict with RISD’s Social Equity and Inclusion action plan. To provide more access and equity in our admissions process, we have made the decision to remove the RISD Assignment as an application requirement beginning with the 2022/23 application cycle. We will continue to prioritize the portfolio when evaluating the visual component of an applicant’s candidacy.

  5. First-year applicants

    If you are applying as a first-year, RISD requires the Common Application Personal Essay (up to 650 words). You will find the writing prompts in the Writing section of the Common Application.

    While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don't hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a distinctive personal position in your essay.

    Transfer applicants

    Submit a written statement, up to 650 words, using the prompt indicated below. Remember, this is the limit, not a goal. Use the full limit if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

    • Provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve by joining us at RISD.

    While we encourage you to adhere to the rules of good writing, we look for applicants who are not afraid to take risks in their expression. Please don't hesitate to use a writing style or method that may be outside the mainstream as you express a dynamic position in the samples you submit.

  6. Letters of recommendation can be very helpful to your application. One letter is required, although as many as three may be submitted. Recommendation letters should be written by teachers or other professionals who have firsthand knowledge of your art or academic achievements and can comment on your potential as a student.

    First-year applicants

    Please use the Common Application to invite your recommendation writers to submit letters through that service. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below) or emailed to admissions@risd.edu.

    Transfer applicants

    Please have your recommendation writers submit their letters directly to admissions@risd.edu. Letters may also be sent directly to our mailing address (see below).