Every other year the RISD Museum mounts a special exhibition the organizing principal of which is, “We all work here!” and it is always one of my favorites. This year’s show is particularly wonderful.
The work on view are [sic] as varied as the many departments and divisions in which the faculty teach—ranging from apparel, textiles, painting, printmaking, ceramics, glass, sculpture, illustration, photography, jewelry, and metalsmithing to graphic design, industrial design, architecture, landscape architecture, interior architecture, film, animation, digital media, furniture, and more.
Many of my favorite pieces are difficult to photograph: “Parade” is a mesmerizing 3D digital video by Dennis Hlynksy which was created three years ago for the inauguration of the new RISD president. It had been rear projected onto a “thirty by forty foot fabric hung across South Main Street.” Could we make that happen again please? During WaterFire perhaps?
And do not miss “Counter Attack: Why I Got Out of Retail” by Matthew Bird, member of the industrial design faculty, witty lecturer, and former owner of The Curatorium on Wickenden Street. His watercolor and ink on paper portraits of everyday customers who will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever worked retail. Hilarious and perfect.
And I loved “Snowball,” acrylic on canvas, by Jamie Murphy Hlynsky of the illustration department. (See below.)
Small rant: Most of the faculty members are identified on the wall text card as “senior critic,” an identifier with which I am unfamiliar and uncomfortable. It feels very like the way Target calls their clerks “associates.” For instance, the image here is “Imagination,” machine knit, felt, dye by Jeung-Hwa Park, Senior Critic Apparel Design. I’m sorry, but to the outside world “critic” is not interchangeable with “professor” or “faculty.” That word already has a meaning and this is not it.
Don’t forget: Youth 18-and-under, free admission to the museum. Every day.