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Pre-College Program Returns to Campus

Pre-College Program Returns to Campus

The 50th anniversary of RISD’s residential Pre-College program brings 430 high school students to campus for immersive six-week experience.

A pre-college student gets to work in the studio

Pre-College students from across the country got a taste of life at RISD this summer.

After a two-year delay due to the pandemic, RISD Continuing Education (CE) faculty and staff are celebrating the residential Pre-College program’s 50th anniversary this summer. With the return to in-person learning, 430 high school students are getting a taste of RISD life this summer.

This unique program immerses students in a six-week college-level curriculum including time in the studio, critiques and final projects. Between Drawing Foundations, which aims to replicate the first-year Experimental and Foundation Studies undergraduate program, Critical Studies in Art, educational trips and a full docket of homework assignments, Pre-College participants get a good idea of what it’s like to be an art school student.

Pre-College students draw with charcoal in Drawing Foundations
The Pre-College Drawing Foundations class aims to replicate the first-year Foundations experience.

Pre-College instructor Johnny Adimando MFA 09 PR has taught at RISD for 11 years, focusing on Drawing Foundations and printmaking. “In my printmaking course, we begin by discussing the medium as an active force for positive creativity in the world,” he says. This summer Adimando focused his in-person classes on screen printing and intaglio etching. “All day, every day this course offers a hands-on, deep dive into the medium,” he says.

Johnny Adimando MFA 09 PR demonstrates printmaking techniques to a Pre-College student
This year, Pre-College instructor Johnny Adimando MFA 09 PR focused his in-person printmaking classes on screen printing and intaglio etching. 

Adimando says that “the intense focus on honing a diverse and versatile skill set” allowed him to explore new creative avenues after earning his MFA at RISD, and he hopes to offer his students the same experience. “I simply love the medium of printmaking,” he says. “It quite literally changed my life, and it is and has always been my goal to contribute to its canon in some positive and progressive way.”

A group of Pre-College students sit and listen intently in class

First time Pre-College instructor and RISD alum Nafis M. White 18 PR describes returning to campus to teach Art and Activism this summer as “a powerful homecoming” and expresses relief in the return to in-person learning after years of isolation caused by the pandemic. “I’ve missed having robust, vulnerable and heartfelt conversations in person,” she says.

White describes her studio practice as “rooted in liberation, love and elevation” and adds that “the very presence of my Black body in this particular country makes it a deeply political and social practice as well.” White’s work was included in the first-ever Black Biennial last fall and is permanently on display at the RISD Museum. 

A woman views Pre-college work on view at Woods Gerry
At the end of the program, Pre-College students had the opportunity to display their work at Woods-Gerry Gallery.

CE is also celebrating a record number of in-person and online summer students, nearly 2,500 in all. Those attending Adult Extension courses are dabbling in everything from painting in Michael LyonsWatercolor I course to graphic design in Dina Vincent’s introductory class. And younger artists are enjoying day camps at RISD’s Tillinghast Place campus in Barrington, RI. The mix of in-person and remote summer learning is a first for RISD and has made CE classes more accessible to the broader community.

A woman smiles while drawing in an adult in-person CE course
Those attending Adult Extension courses are dabbling in everything from watercolors to graphic design this summer.

“The marking of this year’s summer solstice on June 21 coincided with a momentous occasion at RISD,” says CE's Director of Marketing and Communications John Murphy. “For the first time in our history, a summer season commenced with both robust online programming and a return to in-person instruction. We couldn’t be more pleased!”

—Isabel Roberts / photos by David O'Connor and Adam Mastoon

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