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Faculty Biennial Showcases Eye-Opening Work

Faculty Biennial Showcases Eye-Opening Work

As a group of laughing children round the bend on the third floor of the RISD Museum, something stops them dead in their tracks.

As a group of laughing children round the bend on the third floor of the RISD Museum, something stops them dead in their tracks. Jaws dropped, the young crew looks up into the saucer-like eyes of Skull-Bot, an enormous puppet made by Film/Animation/Video faculty member Erminio Pinque 83 FAV. Astonished, they slowly back away from the squishy innards hanging from the beast's rib cage.

Pinque's monster is just one of many breathtaking works now on display in the RISD Faculty Biennial. In every corner of the second- and third-floor Chace Center galleries, spectators can discover evocative paintings, complex works of wood and provocative mixed media pieces by 197 talented full- and part-time faculty members.

One of the highlights of the poignant show: Being by Yuri Kobayashi. The critic in Furniture Design created a delicate tower from hundreds of finely planed ash planks. Though the installation stands stick straight, exterior pieces are bent in a slight inward curve. Small boxes - some covered, others open - are housed within the impressive column, which stands more than six feet tall.

"It's an incredibly technical piece of work," notes Associate Professor Gail Fredell, a Foundation Studies faculty member and fellow furniture maker. "This is a prime example of excellent Japanese joinery. Not only is it beautiful, it's amazingly graceful."

Using a discarded muffler, Critic Kelly Goff created a piece of red-speckled sculpture that - from afar - looks like a freshly-harvested human organ. She applied a detailed print to Muffler using hydrographics, a method of water immersion printing. As a last step, Goff used a clear topcoat to give the piece its seemingly moist, glistening sheen.

Elsewhere in the galleries, Professor Henry Horenstein 71 PH/MFA 73 captures a quiet moment in American rock and roll history with a silver gelatin print of Jerry Lee Lewis. In 1976 the photographer found himself in a Boston hotel room with the controversial rock and roll sensation most popular for his radio hit Great Balls of Fire. As Lewis lit up a cigar while seated at a Baldwin piano, Horenstein seized the moment and started photographing.

Though much of the work in the biennial is so well crafted that it almost looks effortless, faculty members clearly go all-out to bring their pieces to life. For instance, it took Industrial Design Senior Critic Peter Prip months to complete a mixed metals piece made of brass, tin and copper. "It's a puzzle," he explains. "I looped together different types of materials."

Though the rectangular piece is less than a foot long and wide, Prip sustained minor injuries while soldering his angular creation. "I can't be a hand model anymore," he smiles, "but at least I have something to show for my scars." -Abigail Crocker

The Faculty Biennial continues through March 17 in the Museum's third-floor Chace galleries and the second-floor Gelman Student Exhibitions Gallery.