Mind Meld

Using a pen, Nazli Ozerdem 14 PT began to make the smallest of marks.

Using a pen, Nazli Ozerdem 14 PT began to make the smallest of marks. The artist had a vision and she fully intended to see it to fruition. As she toiled – creating dot after dot on a large sheet of paper – her mind sometimes wandered and her hand often cramped. But after spending hundreds of hours on the painstaking work, the painter created Ice Shell, an incredibly detailed drawing that encapsulates the stark beauty of the Icelandic coastline.

This type of determination defines the small group of students accepted to the RISD/Brown Dual Degree Program and is evidenced in the amazing work now on display in Full, the fifth annual Brown-RISD dual degree exhibition, at Brown University's Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

Each year only 15 or fewer individuals are admitted to the highly competitive program, which enables students to pursue bachelor's degrees at both institutions simultaneously. For instance, Ozerdem is majoring in Painting at RISD and Art History at Brown. At the end of the five-year program, the native of Turkey will graduate with a degree from each institution.

“I feel like I couldn't choose between the two subjects,” Ozerdem explains, noting that she would eventually like to design textiles. “They're both a part of me.”

This merging of curricula creates a constant state of mental ping-pong; students say they're always shooting ideas back and forth between the left and right brain. And that synergy inevitably results in brilliantly executed interdisciplinary projects.

In Full beautiful tapestries, smart installations and inventive furniture designs celebrate the amazing work created by these multitalented students. “This exhibition represents us – our everyday life,” explained co-curator Rachel Ossip 15 GD at the well-attended opening reception. “We're showcasing these really exciting moments of potential.”

Throughout the evening, visitors congregated around grid it, a thought-provoking ceramic piece by Lizzie Kripke 14 PT. Made of clay, galvanized steel and tape, the art takes the shape of a spongy human brain sprouting thin, metal probes. “I like that [the piece] looks as if it's literally sparking ideas. It's a visual metaphor for the way the brain works,” says Kripke,who is studying painting and neuroscience. “Thoughts can be razor sharp but they're also incredibly fragile.”

Many gallery-goers were also drawn to The Miscarriage, a foam installation by Josephine Devanbu 15 PT, another student majoring in painting and neuroscience. Depicting a man holding a limp woman in his arms, the plush piece explores the desire to create both living and inanimate objects. “I dreamed this in my sleep,” Devanbu explains, adding that her scientific pursuits have bled into her artwork. “When I learn about a model for neural plasticity, I interpret it as an artwork.”

Mentors who attended the opening couldn't be more proud of the exhibitors. “You may not realize it, but you are a part of something monumental,” Michael Spalter, chairman of RISD's Board of Trustees, told the dual degree students. “[This program] is preparing you to be lifelong conduits of change.”

Ossip is already changing the way people see an everyday necessity: food. The graphic designer and comparative literature major is exhibiting Base 8, a well-designed cookbook that grew out of an assignment in her RISD Typography II course. When challenged to create her own cookbook as a means of experimenting with typographical content, Ossip offered a radical approach to everyday cooking and baking.

In her book, basic ingredients - kitchen staples such as flour, baking soda, eggs and milk - are combined to create eight simple recipes. “If people learn how to make the basics, they wouldn't be forced to buy processed food like crackers and pasta in the grocery store,” Ossip explains. “It's about establishing a foundation of knowledge so people are aware of their choices.”

A self-described bibliophile, Ossip was involved in every step of the creation process. “I actually wanted to write the content,” she explained. “I've spent years of school studying literature and writing papers - so sitting down to draft a publication didn't cause me anxiety.”

Though it will be a couple years until Ossip graduates, she's confident her future remains bright. “I have so many doors waiting to open for me. The program is preparing all of us for jobs that don't even exist yet,” she postulates. “I know wonderful things lie ahead.”

Full continues through February 13 at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.