University News

RISD brings art downtown for sale, display

By
Staff Writer
Friday, December 3, 2010

RISD Expose, a small contemporary art show at 210 Westminster St. in downtown Providence, has given students at the Rhode Island School of Design an opportunity to display their work to the greater community. The second annual Expose (rhymes with “OK”) opened Nov. 11 and will close Dec. 10, said Production Designer Kellie Riggs, a RISD senior.

Almost all the work in the gallery is on sale, Riggs said, with gift cards priced at a low of $5 while some paintings and furniture are marked at around $2,500.

Misha Kahn, a senior at RISD and creative director of Expose, said he organized last year’s show on a whim with Riggs when he decided that he wanted to hold a student sale “that was a little bit more high-end than just having a table on the street.”

Expose was sale-oriented in its first year, displaying works that would be more accessible to community members, Riggs said, but she and Kahn tried “elevating the integrity” of the event this year.

“To get more support from the institution of the school and to keep it more in line with the work that we make, we wanted it to be more of a temporary gallery space,” she said. RISD’s Office of Student Life is funding their efforts, and the faculty is more aware and supportive of the event this year, she said.

The event has also been an effort to reach out to the arts community of Providence, with which RISD has not been highly integrated in the past, Riggs said. Expose would allow those in the city to become more involved with RISD students and more aware of their work, she said.

Participation by RISD students sharply increased this year. Whereas about 70 students made submissions for the event last year and each piece was accepted, about 190 students submitted applications this year, allowing only half to be included in the show, Kahn said.

“In terms of the spirit of the event, we wanted to have it be really kind of overwhelming and really inclusive and show as much work as possible,” he said. “We tried to get one piece of as many people as possible in the show.”

Tim Goossens, curatorial assistant at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1, served as a guest juror for Expose, providing an impartial eye in choosing works for the gallery from among the submissions, Kahn said. Students were invited to upload a statement as well as four to five images of their pieces with appropriate captions and prefaces to a website, Goossens said. He considered the artistic quality and seriousness of the applications and discussed proposals he liked with Riggs and Kahn, he said. He was also the curator of Expose and collaborated with students to determine the placement of pieces in the gallery space.

Audrey Pondek, a RISD senior specializing in textiles, said she had visited Expose last year and had been impressed by the work Riggs and Kahn had done. She chose to participate this year because she had recently started selling jewelry and wanted to let her work reach a broader market within Providence, she said. But money has not been her main concern, she added.

“I think it’s not a big moneymaker,” she said. “It’s definitely: Show Providence what RISD does. Hence, Expose.”

CJ Hill, a junior at RISD, said he also decided to submit his sculpture to the gallery after he saw how successful the event had been last year.

Pondek said the location of the gallery may account for the low traffic.

“You can walk down the street and not see anyone, even though it’s considered downtown,” she said.

Kahn said that an increasing number of students have been using spaces downtown to open special art exhibits, and Expose has been an effort to create the “biggest show possible and show the widest variety of stuff.”

“I was shocked in a good way about how serious the students are at RISD,” Goossens said. “I mean even on a Sunday late afternoon, they were still working like crazy. So for the two of them, Kellie and Misha, to be so involved and to spend so much of their free time, which is apparently so precious up there in Providence, on this, I think it’s great.”