Ever since RISD Exposé and Second Life moved into 204 Westminster, a permanent storefront in downtown Providence, the two student organizations have been getting along in sweet symbiotic harmony. And the partnership between the student-curated art space and the materials resource center has transformed the formerly vacant space into a vibrant creative center.
According to Sarah Lammer 13 PR and Emily Jenne 13 PR, the duo behindRISD Exposé, moving the student-curated art space to a secure location in September has done nothing but good for the gallery that started out in 2009 as a month-long pop-up shop. “[Exposé] was a response to students not being able to get a table to sell work at alumni sales. It fills a void,” Lammer explains, adding that the students’ alternative sales were often held in tents.
Now working in a building with a door that locks, the printmakershave been busy organizing The White Tie Show, a showcase of wonderful student and alumni works slated to open November 29. According to the co-directors, the event will be far from stuffy. “The show is a cross between a craft table and a gallery in Chelsea,” Lammer says, adding that the works offered for sale will be an eclectic mix reflective of the wide range of student approaches.
To get the word out about the show, Lammer and Jenne have been distributing little red business cards and slapping stickers on campus buildings. “We want to let students and the Providence community know that [the exhibition] is happening – and we’ve been sneaky about it,” Jenne admits with a smile.
The storefront is an active one – and on the ground floor ofThe Design Office shared studio space run by Assistant Professor John Caserta. Because it’s also home to Second Life, the student-run materials resource center that collects and distributes art supplies,it’s routine for strangers to walk into the cavernous space to drop off mechanical odds and ends, industrial metals and painting supplies – expensive purchases for artists on a budget. For example, just a few weeks ago Jim Drain 98 SC walked in and donated bundles of neon rope and an armful of piping. If not for Second Life, he says, the materials would have found their way to the garbage can instead of the hands of a supply-hungry artist.
“This needed to happen 120 years ago,” Drain told the students. “I’ve even pilfered some wood from here for dirt cheap myself.”
The donations can be quite coveted. According to Hilary Wang 14 GL, co-director of Second Life, a human-sized crate of luxurious leather was recently donated by alumStephanie Retz 10 ID, now a handbag designer for Brahmin. “There’s hot pinks, coffee browns, embossed alligator skin,” Wang says of the leather. “There aren’t many manufacturers that make this.”
Students are also quickly snapping up antique heart pine planks recently ripped from a Thayer Street home renovation project. First harvested in 1850, the planks are a prize for woodworkers.Connor Lunch 14 ID helped move 1,042 pounds of planks in a mini-van with the intent of reusing some of it himself. And a number of sculpture students hope to use the wood to build a stage.
“It’s been a great learning experience for us,” Wang notes, adding that the partnership between RISD Exposé and Second Life is an incredible one. “This pairing has never been done before. We’re working together on a large scale.”
According to the RISD Exposé impresarios, they’re expecting to see many Second Life materials make their way into theWhite Tie Show. “It’s a strange collaboration. But in a lot of ways, it makes sense,” Lammer explains. “When the artwork is up, you can see the loop.”
Alumni Katherine Gray MFA 91 GL and Alexander Rosenberg 06 GL are both central to the cast of the glassblowing competition show Blown Away on Netflix.
Textiles students design custom jacquards for the RISD library’s collection of classic Knoll chairs.
Designer Karla López Rivera 04 FD returned to San Juan to launch Isleñas, a socially responsible footwear company.