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Double Vision

Double Vision

Brown | RISD Dual Degree students present their capstone presentations to a live and virtual audience.

A brightly colored graphic of trees and letters

Work by Natalya Ho BRDD 22 GD, who created digital worlds inspired by experiential design.

Faculty, friends and family gathered at Brown University in the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts in late May to hear the 14 students graduating from the Brown | RISD Dual Degree program present their capstone projects. Having completed their fifth and final year in the program, the students shared their struggles, accomplishments and stories of personal growth in two days of talks that were also live-streamed for those unable to attend in person.

“I crave an intimate space that can act as a virtual portal into other realities.”

Natalya J. Ho BRDD 22 GD

“I crave an intimate space that can act as a virtual portal into other realities,” says Natalya J. Ho BRDD 22 GD. An international student from Hong Kong, Ho spent the COVID-19 isolation period taking classes from home and grappling with a 13-hour time difference, which motivated her to work within digital platforms. “It’s our responsibility as designers to explore new modes of communication in these kinds of circumstances,” says the dual major in Modern Culture and Media and Graphic Design.

A booklet with typeface inspired by animal eyes

Caroline Dai's animation of the Riftia Pachyptila
A booklet with animal eye-inspired typeface designed by Natalya J. Ho BRDD 22 GD, and an animation of the parts of a Galapagan tubeworm called Riftia Pachyptila illustrated by Caroline Dai 22 IL.

Caroline Dai BRDD 22 IL says that her creative path was also influenced by the pandemic, and she found solace in art. “I started taking scientific and anatomical illustration courses at RISD, which sparked a dialogue between science and illustration,” she says. The Illustration and Biology major began using her art to make scientific information—about everything from dementia in geriatric patients to undersea organisms—accessible and engaging.

Kingdom of Life posters illustrated by Jake Ruggiero BRDD 22 IL
Jake Ruggiero BRDD 22 IL illustrated kingdom of life posters early on in his academic career.

“Creating for educational and scientific projects provided the functional purpose that my art lacked.”

Jake Ruggiero BRDD 22 IL

After animating instructional videos for Chem 330, Brown’s “notoriously difficult” introductory chemistry course, Jake Ruggiero BRDD 22 IL also began using his talents to illustrate scientific concepts. Ruggiero went on to animate graphics for The New York Times that help viewers engage with dense and unapproachable data. “Creating for educational and scientific projects provided the functional purpose that my art lacked,” says the dual major in Illustration and Biology.

Posters designed for Brown's ULFi Center
Kira DuBose BRDD 22 FAV worked as a graphic designer at Brown’s Undocumented, First-Generation College, and Low-Income Student Center for several years during her undergraduate career.

Kira DuBose BRDD 22 FAV combined her majors in Psychology and Film/Animation/Video to give a voice to BIPOC and first-gen students on campus. “I was told that being a BRDD student is a form of status,” says DuBose. “But my identity as a Black woman from a lower income background never granted me such privilege.” DuBose’s capstone project, Gather My Loose Ends, is an eerie and moving film about this experience of “clashing identities. More than anything,” says DuBose, “I learned a hard lesson about having compassion for myself, others and our society on a global scale.”

“More than anything, I learned a hard lesson about having compassion for myself, others and our society on a global scale.”

Kira DuBose BRDD 22 FAV

Monika Hedman BRDD 22 IL shared her deeply personal experience of living with depression and anxiety while balancing her Illustration and Computer Science majors. “This is the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” she says of the dual degree program. “I started making art for somebody else and stopped making it for myself.” During her final semester, Hedman enrolled in a creature creation course for fun. “Now I make art for myself,” she says, “and I love doing it again.”

Illustrations of animal-like creatures by Monika Hedman BRDD 22 IL

Playful illustrations of birds acting like humans by Joanne Han BRDD 22 IL
Monika Hedman BRDD 22 IL rediscovered her love for art in a Creature Creation class at RISD, and Joanne Han BRDD 22 IL tapped into her playful side while working for the Brown Daily Herald as head illustrator.

Self-imposed pressure is something that Joanne Han BRDD 22 IL also struggled with as an Illustration and Computer Science dual degree student. “At first I felt like none of the other students were having as tough a time as I was, but that’s never the case,” says Han. “It’s OK to be a work in progress.” As head illustrator for the Brown Daily Herald, Han allowed herself to take some pressure off and explore “silly work” for the first time. 

A fantastical game environment created by Allison Yeh BRDD 22 FAV
A fantastical game environment designed by Allison Yeh BRDD 22 FAV.

“I wanted to tackle something bigger technically and conceptually. What I learned in the program is how to learn.”

Allison Yeh BRDD 22 FAV

Allison Yeh BRDD 22 FAV found relief from academic pressures in the fictional worlds of video games such as Ōkami and Ori and the Will of the Wisps and was inspired to focus on game development. “I wanted to tackle something bigger technically and conceptually,” says the Film/Animation/Video and Computer Science dual major. Yeh envisions her expansive and dreamlike game environments being used as a form of “distraction therapy” for children in hospitals. “Becoming a part of the game development community really worked for me,” she says. “What I learned in the program is how to learn.”

For more information view this year’s capstone presentations or read about the Brown|RISD Dual Degree program on brown.edu.

—Isabel Roberts

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