RISD Museum exhibit engages community

Hanging above Bolt Coffee at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum is Pedro Reyes’ flag “Hands On With A Vision,” the latest installment in “Pledges of Allegiance,” a nationwide art project put on by the New York-based public arts nonprofit Creative Time.

With each opening of the cafe’s heavy doors, the sky-blue flag ripples slightly, revealing more of the image obscured by its folds. The flag’s graphic plays on the recognizable flag of the United Nations, which depicts a similar white emblem centered on a blue background. The emblem on Reyes’ flag reinterprets the UN symbol: An open eye sits in the palm of a hand and is layered in front of a globe that is dissected by longitudinal and latitudinal lines. The flag represents “The People’s United Nations” — “pUN” — which the flag’s placard describes as “an experimental conference developed by the artist” that has brought together individuals from over 160 countries at three meetings.

On the placard, Reyes writes: “This right palm with an eye at the center … has been a symbol of protection across cultures and millennia,” adding that the hand, which is open in salutation, “placed over an orb is meant to signal our mission to protect the planet.”

Reyes’ work is the eighth installment of a collaborative compilation of 16 flags, which will be on display at museums nationwide through July 31. Other featured artists include Alex Da Corte, Tania Bruguera and Jeremy Deller. The first flag shown at the RISD Museum “Untitled (Dividing Time)” was also displayed at nine other locations across the nation from Sept. 13 through Oct. 11 last year. The number of museums, galleries and institutions hosting installments of the series has increased each month as participants are continuously added to host pieces of the rotating series. In addition to the RISD Museum, California College of the Arts, Texas State Galleries and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell will also display the flags.

On its website, Creative Time states that, in response to the current political climate, the exhibition’s goal is “to inspire a sense of community among cultural institutions, and begin articulating the urgent response our political moment demands.”

“We … thought that this would really be a great way for us to … have a project that kept pace with changing times,” said Dominic Molon, the Richard Brown Baker curator of contemporary art at the RISD Museum. “Pledges of Allegiance” is dynamic in nature, which Molon sees as “something that would … demonstrate how the museum was wanting to engage with the present moment and with the future.”

According to Molon, “Imagine Peace,” the flag by Yoko Ono, was one of the most well received at the RISD Museum. On the flag, bold type reads, “THINK PEACE ACT PEACE SPREAD PEACE IMAGINE PEACE,” against a white backdrop. In the background of a video accompanying “Imagine Peace” on Creative Time’s website, echoing voices recite statements describing their definition of peace. For one speaker, “peace is understanding someone else’s point of view,” while for another, “peace is like a puddle of puppies … or sleeping on a marshmallow.”

Molon considers the museum a place where community members can find “some kind of reflection of what’s going on out there in the world.” “Pledges of Allegiance,” its changing nature and the artists’ messages demonstrate this concept. “Hands On With A Vision” will be on display at the RISD Museum until Feb. 14, while the entire exhibition, “Pledges of Allegiance,” will continue to show through July 31.

This article was published in The Brown Daily Herald on February 1, 2018. Click here to read more

Wonderland of Warp, Weft + Work

The D train was sweltering in early July as I traveled past 22 subway stops on my way to the Brooklyn studio of contemporary textiles artist Liz Collins91 TX/MFA 99. Looking around the D, I noticed that everyone seemed to be wearing elaborate prints, Doc Martens and/or visible paint stains. It was the first day of my nine-week summer internship and I was nervous, anxious and excited.

Not surprisingly, the other arty types and I all got off at the same stop and headed toward a trendy-looking block of buildings and restaurants. My enthusiasm for the internship only increased when I saw that one of Liz’s pieces adorns the main walkway of the subway station.

Studio manager and fellow RISD grad Zev Schwartz 12 AP greeted me at the door to the large studio, which is clearly Liz’s space: a well-organized wonderland of colorful yarns, knitted fabrics and wacky furniture. I immediately recognized her signature use of bright colors and sharp lines and peered around the room, finding samples of her WW3 (Warp Weft 3) series, which I would later get the opportunity to work on.

Liz primarily hired me to assist with a new installation that opened on September 27 at the New Museum in Manhattan as part of Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon. My first task involved sourcing materials. I was on the hunt for mesh fencing, a quest that led me through the Park Slope and Sunset Park neighborhoods of Brooklyn, where I encountered an eccentric hardware store owner and a talkative bus driver who complained bitterly about the city’s increasing traffic problems.

I was happy to collaborate with Liz, but was also excited that my friend Felix Beaudry 18 TX landed a summer internship at the studio, too. We were both psyched to brainstorm ideas for the New Museum show.

Later that week Liz assigned me exactly the kind of work I had hoped I’d be doing. Once she explained that she wanted to use stills from the weird 1982 film classic Liquid Sky to create a carpet for the exhibition, I spent weeks piecing together images in Photoshop and was happy to apply the skills I learned in my CAD in Textiles class last spring. We worked with an industrial carpet producer to finalize the design and select just the right swatches to match the film’s color palette.

Another highlight of the internship was going to the New Museum with Liz to mock up her plan for the installation. After seeing countless museum exhibitions where the designs seem so self-evident, it was great to get a behind-the-scenes look at the planning process and to be included in conversations about the overall cohesiveness of the show and what was working and what wasn’t.

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Providence College celebrates close of record $185 million fundraising campaign

Providence College celebrated the close of its record-breaking fundraising campaign, Our Moment: The Next Century Campaign for Providence College, during St. Dominic Weekend, Sept. 15-16.

The most successful campaign in College history raised $185 million, shattering the target of $140 million announced at its public launch in October 2014. It featured gifts from more than 35,500 donors, including alumni, parents, faculty, staff, corporations, and foundations. Forty-two percent of the College’s 56,000 alumni made a gift during the campaign, and 41 donors made commitments of $1 million or more.

The seven-year Our Moment campaign transformed campus, enabling the construction of the Ruane Center for the Humanities, the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies, the Ray Treacy Track and Field, and Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium. It established five endowed professorships and three endowed lectureships. The amount of financial aid and scholarships awarded to students increased by 45 percent, to more than $70 million annually, and 120 endowed scholarships were created.

Gifts to the campaign enhanced research and study abroad opportunities, bolstered the implementation of a new core curriculum, and supported diversity initiatives and new programs, such as The Humanities Forum.

The successful close was announced at a celebration on Saturday night in the Peterson Recreation Center that drew alumni, trustees, students, administrators, faculty, and staff. St. Dominic Weekend is an annual event during which the College thanks its most generous benefactors.

At the event, College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 said visitors frequently tell him, “I can’t believe what you have done” in transforming the campus. But most significant, Father Shanley said, is the campaign’s impact on students.

“For me, the most important part of this campaign is that we’ve been able to increase financial need-based aid to our students as a result of philanthropy,” Father Shanley said. “I love our buildings, but I’m more interested in investing in our students, who can be transformed in their hearts, souls, and minds in beautiful academic spaces.”

The campaign also made possible the replacement of Huxley Avenue, a city street that bisected campus, with a landscaped walkway and a new entrance off Admiral Street. A softball field was built, and Schneider Arena and Mullaney Gym in Alumni Hall were renovated.

Ongoing projects include an expansion and renovation of the Science Complex and the multiphase construction of the Ruane Friar Development Center, which will include a basketball practice facility, a new Center for Career Education & Professional Development, and an expanded and a renovated Slavin Center ’64 Hall.

“Providence College is at an incredible point in our history,” said Gregory T. Waldron, senior vice president for institutional advancement. “We are experiencing unprecedented momentum academically, athletically, and with admissions. The philanthropic support of the Friar faithful has been critical to our success thus far and will be just as critical to our future success.”

At the campaign celebration, Adam Hanna ’18 (Lakeville, Mass.), a singer and songwriter, played and sang a ballad, “100 Years,” that he composed for the occasion.

“This is in honor of the last 100 years, it’s looking forward to the next 100, and it’s knowing that in some way, we’re all a part of both,” said Hanna.

“One hundred years ago, no one we know was here,” Hanna sang. “Poor people, of simple means, 100 years ago, accomplished things they never could have dreamed. … Time is a tiny plot of land we worked so hard to clear. We have a lease that says 100 years.”

PTA students at NEIT rallying for Wounded Warrior Project on 9/11

Students training in the Physical Therapist Assistant, or PTA, program at the New England Institute of Technology are remembering veterans by raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project on Patriots Day.

“PTA’s for Patriots” is presenting the “Red, White and You Fitness Challenge,” a community service project set for Sept. 11 on the East Greenwich campus.

The goal of the event is not only to raise money and get people moving, but also to honor veterans who served the country post-9/11.

“As the date gets further and further away from September 11, 2001, we’ve come far from really giving it the remembrance that it deserves, and I think this year needs to be a year where we reignite that meaning,” said Carissa Melicharek, who spearheaded the event with fellow student and Navy vet, Heather Kinne. “It’s not just one moment of silence. We’re really discussing what that day meant for us as Americans, especially with all of the political turmoil and controversy going on now. It’s a huge day to bring it all back together as Americans in general.”

A group of 14 students is calling on participants to perform five exercises to see how many repetitions they can perform in 60 seconds. It’s a nod to the physical training aspect soldiers endure while in boot camp.

“Heather said when you’re training in boot camp, you have to do these fitness challenges and usually it’s timed within 60 seconds,” Melicharek said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s also fun and competitive. We thought it would create a good atmosphere by getting people involved in movement in general because that is our expertise as PTAs — we’re movement professionals.”

Since Melicharek said the PTA program is the education of choice for many veterans at NEIT, they are passionate about giving back to soldiers who fought and continue to fight to protect America’s freedom, especially on one of the most significant days in American history.

“We have so many veterans that decide to use our program at New England Tech. We also have a lot of family members who have served. My brother was an EOD tech for a few years. He did a few tours, and Heather is a veteran,” Melicharek said. “We thought it would be really appropriate to finally do something that would benefit the Wounded Warriors.”

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