Grad Show 2024 Presents Thesis Work by RISD’s Global Community of Artists and Designers

Visitors view work at Grad Show 2024

Grad Show 2024, a 43,000-sf exhibition presenting exploratory thesis work by 253 RISD students earning master’s degrees in 19 different disciplines, is on view through June 1 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The sprawling show, which is free and open to the public daily from 12–5 pm, highlights the creativity of students at all stages of the thesis process, from sketches and drafts to completed pieces. 

Visitors are greeted at the entrance by Under Construction, a sculptural installation by Julia Helen Murray MFA 24 SC featuring video, blown glass, copper plumbing, stainless steel, reused projectors, family quilts and mineral oil. Murray describes herself as a “nontraditional student who worked as a union ironworker on the bridges of NYC for more than a decade” before pursuing her MFA in Sculpture at RISD. 

photo-negative paintings by Boluwatife Oyediran made positive with a smartphone
students gather at the opening
Top photo: viewers can use their smartphones to get an inverted perspective on paintings by Nigerian artist Boluwatife Oyediran.

On the wall behind it are two large-scale paintings by Nigerian artist and RISD Presidential Fellow Boluwatife Oyediran MFA 24 PT: Untitled (American Architecture II) and Higher Goals (After Hammons). The paintings appear almost like photo negatives and when viewed through a smartphone using the Color Inversion feature, they are transformed into photo positives. Oyediran’s practice is “informed by a deep commitment to reimagining and reorienting Black identity in the canons of history, religion and Western art.”

As viewers move further into the hall, the space opens up and provides room for multiple large-scale installations, including I Wondered if I Could Come Home by Lorena Park MFA 24 SC, Umbrales by Maureen Scally MFA 24 TX and a 3D-printed ceramic rug by Iranian artist Maedeh Tafvizi Zavareh MFA 24 CR

“I’m inspired by Iranian tapestry,” Zavareh says. “The rug is composed of Egyptian paste made from an ancient recipe that is single-fired in a low-temperature kiln.” What makes the piece so strong, says Ceramics Department Head Katy Schimert, “is how Maedeh used the digital printer in a surprising and meaningful way to create her own language.”

Graphic Design department's collaborative black-and-white display
installation featuring soil by Ceramics student Christine Jung
Above, the Graphic Design department is showing one collaborative installation at this year’s exhibition; below, Justice Redoubles the Crime by ceramicist Christine Jung exacts revenge for those who have been wronged.

In the realm of design, this year’s exhibition includes incredibly detailed architectural models and renderings, all kinds of industrial design addressing social, cultural and environmental concerns, and a wide array of cross-disciplinary projects developed over the course of the past year.

The Brown|RISD Master of Arts in Design Engineering (MADE) Program has a strong showing this year with collaborative pieces like The Alzheimer’s Project by Lisa Lo MADE 24, Yinyifan Mo MADE 24 and Taehoon Park MADE 24. “I started thinking about Alzheimer’s Disease because my grandmother had it and was diagnosed too late,” Lo says. The project uses handwriting analysis as a noninvasive tool for both diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease and helping to slow it down by increasing brain connectivity.

MADE Executive Director Beth Altringer Eagle says all of this year’s projects are strong and encourages visitors to check out QuickCare by Sunny Satpathy MADE 24. “Sunny did such a good job of subtly critiquing one-button medical solutions that viewers might not even pick up on the irony,” she says.

small silver frames by Cloris Ding
detail of 3D-printed ceramic rug
Above delicate frames by Jewelry + Metalsmithing grad Cloris Ding speak softly in an otherwise noisy environment; below detail from a ceramic rug by Maedeh Tafvizi Zavareh created with a 3D printer and a low-temperature kiln.

Next door in the Graphic Design department’s exhibition space, Kazakhstani DJ Glikeriya Shotanova MFA 24 GD spun records on opening night. Her thesis project explores alternative methods for organizing a cultural center, focusing on collective knowledge and accessibility, but she and her peers created one large, communal installation for the show. “It was a lot of work,” says Clinton Van Arnam MFA 24 GD, “but it was less stressful because we were all working together on one thing.”

At the back of the hall, RISD’s Teaching + Learning in Art + Design department also created one collaborative exhibit: a cozy hangout space where wee artists can post their own pictures, color in a giant mural on the wall and engage with other interactive games. “Our goal is always about educating PK-12 art students in a range of contexts, but with this installation we were trying to make it really fun,” says graduating educator Emily Bennison MA 24 TLAD.

Visit the show in person or online at RISD Grad Show 2024.

Simone Solondz / photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH
May 28, 2024

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