Michelle Charest

Senior Lecturer
Image
RISD faculty member Michelle Charest
BA, Boston University
MA, Illinois State University
PHD, Brown University

Michelle Charest is an anthropologist, archaeologist, textile artist/designer and naturalist specializing in traditional indigenous and historic fiber arts. At RISD, Charest’s enthusiastic teaching has focused on indigenous art and architecture within global contexts. She believes that indigenous arts education is an essential component of promoting indigenous rights and awareness among non-indigenous populations. Indigenous rights, repatriation issues and concerns about cultural appropriation are all central to her courses.

Charest’s interests in textiles and fiber arts are extremely wide-ranging, particularly addressing every stage of the production chain using small-scale traditional and indigenous approaches, from sourcing and preparing pigments and fibers to spinning, dyeing, weaving, knitting, finishing, sewing, cleaning and preservation. Her work embraces the use of color and creatively borrowing materials and methods from outside of the textile/fiber world.

STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) research is a critical component of Charest’s current work, building on her background in ecology, chemistry, GIS and digital cartography. She is currently researching plants found in temperate North America as potential sources of indigo pigment, with the hope of finding a productive use of excess biomass created by invasive species. She is also working on identifying indicator plant species and mutations that can be linked with particular dangerous chemical signatures in the soil, such as lead and arsenic.

Courses

Fall 2023 Courses

THAD H101-09 - THAD I: GLOBAL MODERNISMS
Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Fall 2023
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

THAD H101-09

THAD I: GLOBAL MODERNISMS

Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Fall 2023
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2023-09-06 to 2023-12-13
Times: TH | 1:10 PM - 2:40 PM; TTH | 11:20 AM - 12:20 PM Instructor(s): Michelle Charest Location(s): College Building, Room 412; Auditorium, Room 132 Enrolled / Capacity: 20 Status: Closed

SECTION DESCRIPTION

This is a required course for all first year and transfer students to introduce them to global modern and contemporary art, architecture and design in the period between 1750 and the present. The course addresses modernism as a global project, presenting several case studies from across the world that unfold to show how multiple kinds of modernism developed in different times and distant places. By presenting alternate, sometimes contradictory stories about modern and contemporary art and design, along with a set of critical terms specific to these times and places, the class aims to foster a rich, complex understanding of the many narratives that works of art and design can tell. With this grounding, students will be well positioned to pursue their interests in specialized courses in subsequent semesters. 
 
Registration process: First-year students are registered into sections by the Liberal Arts Division.
Transfer and sophomore and above students should register into the evening section offered in the fall. 
 
For schedule conflicts during lecture times, please contact the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office. For issues with registration, contact the Registrar's office for assistance. 
 

Major Requirement | BFA

THAD H101-10 - THAD I: GLOBAL MODERNISMS
Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Fall 2023
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

THAD H101-10

THAD I: GLOBAL MODERNISMS

Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Fall 2023
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2023-09-06 to 2023-12-13
Times: TH | 2:50 PM - 4:20 PM; TTH | 11:20 AM - 12:20 PM Instructor(s): Michelle Charest Location(s): College Building, Room 412; Auditorium, Room 132 Enrolled / Capacity: 20 Status: Open

SECTION DESCRIPTION

This is a required course for all first year and transfer students to introduce them to global modern and contemporary art, architecture and design in the period between 1750 and the present. The course addresses modernism as a global project, presenting several case studies from across the world that unfold to show how multiple kinds of modernism developed in different times and distant places. By presenting alternate, sometimes contradictory stories about modern and contemporary art and design, along with a set of critical terms specific to these times and places, the class aims to foster a rich, complex understanding of the many narratives that works of art and design can tell. With this grounding, students will be well positioned to pursue their interests in specialized courses in subsequent semesters. 
 
Registration process: First-year students are registered into sections by the Liberal Arts Division.
Transfer and sophomore and above students should register into the evening section offered in the fall. 
 
For schedule conflicts during lecture times, please contact the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office. For issues with registration, contact the Registrar's office for assistance. 
 

Major Requirement | BFA

THAD H653-01 - INDIGENOUS ARCHITECTURE OF THE AMERICAS
Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Fall 2023
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

THAD H653-01

INDIGENOUS ARCHITECTURE OF THE AMERICAS

Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Fall 2023
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2023-09-06 to 2023-12-13
Times: MW | 9:40 AM - 11:10 AM Instructor(s): Michelle Charest Location(s): College Building, Room 346 Enrolled / Capacity: 25 Status: Open

SECTION DESCRIPTION

This course will explore the architectural traditions of the Indigenous cultures of North America, Mesoamerica, and South America in historic perspective. Examinations will focus on the critical cultural and environmental circumstances which led to the development of distinctive architectural styles throughout the Americas. Approached from an anthropological/archaeological perspective, specific topics of discussion will include the following: construction methods and material choices, spatial arrangements and use areas, the relationship between physical and social community structure, and architectural manifestation of cultural belief systems. Emphasis will also be placed on manipulations of the landscape in response to social and climatic needs. Architectural culture discussed in this course will range widely in scale, dispersal and geography - from the igloo of a small Inuit hunting party to the entire Mayan city of Chichen Itza, to the terrace and irrigation systems of the Inca.

Open to Sophomore, Junior, Senior or Graduate Students.

Elective

Wintersession 2024 Courses

THAD W410-101 - THE ARTIST'S FIELD JOURNAL: INDIGENOUS AMERICAN SPINNING, DYEING, AND WEAVING
Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Wintersession 2024
Credits 3
Format Seminar
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

THAD W410-101

THE ARTIST'S FIELD JOURNAL: INDIGENOUS AMERICAN SPINNING, DYEING, AND WEAVING

Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Wintersession 2024
Credits 3
Format Seminar
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2024-01-04 to 2024-02-07
Times: W | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 02/07/2024 - 02/07/2024; M | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 02/05/2024 - 02/05/2024; TH | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 02/01/2024 - 02/01/2024; M | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 01/29/2024 - 01/29/2024; WTH | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 01/24/2024 - 01/25/2024; M | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 01/22/2024 - 01/22/2024; TH | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 01/18/2024 - 01/18/2024; WTH | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 01/10/2024 - 01/11/2024; M | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 01/08/2024 - 01/08/2024; TH | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 01/04/2024 - 01/04/2024 Instructor(s): Michelle Charest Location(s): Design Center, Room 211 Enrolled / Capacity: 20 Status: Closed

SECTION DESCRIPTION

This course has two primary goals: cultivating an in-depth, hands-on knowledge of a topic in indigenous art history and developing a diverse set of writing tools for documenting lived experience. First, this course will explore the history, anthropology, and overall context of the development of traditional indigenous American textile production methods. Our examination of these textiles will involve critical readings of key texts, lectures and discussions. However, above all, we will be employing a hands-on approach to reproduce the process involved in making these textiles. Focusing on the specific example of Navajo blanket and rug weaving, together we will create our own woven tapestries, replicating traditional methods from cleaning wool straight off the sheep, to dyeing with natural dyes, to building and weaving on our own traditional-style Navajo tapestry looms. The second goal of this course is to explore a variety of approaches toward documenting through writing students' own experiences in the field - ranging from more creative and artistic approaches to more formal or technical descriptions. The intention is to expose students to a variety of writing methods that may come in handy in their professional careers, be they artists' statements or grant applications. To this end, students will be keeping a semester-long field journal detailing their hands-on experiences in this course, culminating in the production of a final presentation of their work.

Elective

Spring 2024 Courses

THAD H102-16 - CRITICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Spring 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

THAD H102-16

CRITICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN

Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Spring 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2024-02-15 to 2024-05-24
Times: TTH | 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM; T | 11:20 AM - 12:50 PM Instructor(s): Michelle Charest Location(s): Auditorium, Room 132; College Building, Room 431 Enrolled / Capacity: 20 Status: Open

SECTION DESCRIPTION

Continuing from critical frameworks established in H101: Global Modernisms, the second semester of the introduction to art history turns to designed, built, and crafted objects and environments. The course does not present a conventional history of the modern movement, but rather engages with a broad range of materials, makers, traditions, sites, and periods in the history of architecture and design. Global in scope, spanning from the ancient world to the present, and organized thematically, the lectures explicitly challenge Western-modernist hierarchies and question myths of race, gender, labor, technology, capitalism, and colonialism. The course is intended to provide students with critical tools for interrogating the past as well as imagining possible futures for architecture and design. 
Required for graduation for all undergraduates. 
 
First year students are registered into sections by the Liberal Arts Division. Transfer and sophomore and above students should register into the evening section offered in the spring.


For schedule conflicts during lecture times, please contact the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office. For issues with registration, contact the Registrar's office for assistance.
 

Major Requirement | BFA

THAD H102-08 - CRITICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Spring 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

THAD H102-08

CRITICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN

Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Spring 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2024-02-15 to 2024-05-24
Times: TTH | 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM; TH | 11:20 AM - 12:50 PM Instructor(s): Michelle Charest Location(s): Auditorium, Room 132; Washington Place, Room 021A Enrolled / Capacity: 20 Status: Open

SECTION DESCRIPTION

Continuing from critical frameworks established in H101: Global Modernisms, the second semester of the introduction to art history turns to designed, built, and crafted objects and environments. The course does not present a conventional history of the modern movement, but rather engages with a broad range of materials, makers, traditions, sites, and periods in the history of architecture and design. Global in scope, spanning from the ancient world to the present, and organized thematically, the lectures explicitly challenge Western-modernist hierarchies and question myths of race, gender, labor, technology, capitalism, and colonialism. The course is intended to provide students with critical tools for interrogating the past as well as imagining possible futures for architecture and design. 
Required for graduation for all undergraduates. 
 
First year students are registered into sections by the Liberal Arts Division. Transfer and sophomore and above students should register into the evening section offered in the spring.


For schedule conflicts during lecture times, please contact the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office. For issues with registration, contact the Registrar's office for assistance.
 

Major Requirement | BFA

THAD H102-09 - CRITICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN
Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Spring 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

THAD H102-09

CRITICAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN

Level Undergraduate
Unit Theory + History of Art + Design
Subject Theory & History of Art & Design
Period Spring 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2024-02-15 to 2024-05-24
Times: TH | 1:10 PM - 2:40 PM; TTH | 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM Instructor(s): Michelle Charest Location(s): Washington Place, Room 021A; Auditorium, Room 132 Enrolled / Capacity: 20 Status: Open

SECTION DESCRIPTION

Continuing from critical frameworks established in H101: Global Modernisms, the second semester of the introduction to art history turns to designed, built, and crafted objects and environments. The course does not present a conventional history of the modern movement, but rather engages with a broad range of materials, makers, traditions, sites, and periods in the history of architecture and design. Global in scope, spanning from the ancient world to the present, and organized thematically, the lectures explicitly challenge Western-modernist hierarchies and question myths of race, gender, labor, technology, capitalism, and colonialism. The course is intended to provide students with critical tools for interrogating the past as well as imagining possible futures for architecture and design. 
Required for graduation for all undergraduates. 
 
First year students are registered into sections by the Liberal Arts Division. Transfer and sophomore and above students should register into the evening section offered in the spring.


For schedule conflicts during lecture times, please contact the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office. For issues with registration, contact the Registrar's office for assistance.
 

Major Requirement | BFA

Image
RISD faculty member Michelle Charest
BA, Boston University
MA, Illinois State University
PHD, Brown University