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Japanese Art to Offer Relief

Japanese Art to Offer Relief

On Saturday, April 9, students from the RISD studio Architectonics will join their instructor, New York-based architect Aki Ishida, at the Japan Society in New York City for a benefit concert and workshop to raise funds for the Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund. They will install Luminous Washi Lantern, a project they designed collaboratively during Wintersession, and run a full-day workshop to teach visitors how to fold paper pieces that will be added to the installation.

A longtime member of RISD’s adjunct faculty, Ishida has taught Architectonics every Wintersession since 2007, attracting some of the best students to a class that has become a perennial favorite in Architecture. “This year’s project evolved from assignments I have given in previous years focused on temporary paper-enclosed spaces,” Ishida explains. In the past, students have designed hypothetical projects for such sites as the Providence Art Club parking lot and a “Japanese village” Ishida is designing for Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota. However, after attending a festival at theJapan Society last spring, she determined that it “would be a perfect venue for an installation with RISD students.” The Society agreed – and then chose to incorporate the installation as part of this weekend’s fundraiser for relief efforts.

Inspired by traditional Japanese lantern festivals, theLuminous Washi Lantern project explores the use of light and shadow in Japanese architecture and celebrates the ephemeral, fleeting nature of materials traditionally used in Japanese rituals and events. As part of the class, a dozen sophomore and Foundation students worked closely with five teaching assistants who had participated in previousArchitectonics studios – Jason Keyes BArch 12, Alex McCargar BArch 11, E. Tristan Mead BArch 14, Evita Yumul BArch 08 and Henry Zimmerman BArch 13. Each student explored various designs for cutting and folding the mulberry paper traditionally used for lanterns. The group then collectively chose and synthesized designs by Adria Boynton BArch 15, Fernando Diaz Smith 13 ID and Timothy Dobday BArch 15to develop for the site-specific piece in NYC.

Installed in the the Japan Society’s skylit lobby, Luminous Washi Lantern will actually grow over the course of the day as visitors write messages to survivors of the earthquake and fold the paper (donated in part by therisd:store and C2F) before adding it to the installation. Doors open at 11 am and the piece will remain illuminated until 11 pm, when the event ends.

The benefit on Saturday is built around the CONCERT FOR JAPAN, which features performers such as Laurie Anderson (who holds an honorary degree from RISD), Philip Glass, Lou Reedand Ryuichi Sakamoto. Although tickets for the gala are already sold out, the concert will be projected on screens both inside and outside the building and will stream live onUStream.

“Being a Sakamoto fan since junior high school, I am especially excited about his participation,” Ishida notes. Most importantly, she is pleased that she and her current and formerArchitectonics students can help with Japanese relief efforts as they “share this special convergence of our interests in Japan, work with light and ephemeral materials, and interest in teaching the public about design.”

The Luminous Washi Lantern project was made possible by the Japan Society, a grant from the Center for Global Partnership and the RISD Architecture Department.