Arts & Culture

Dual Degree artists gain freedom with exhibition’s move to Granoff

With the first dual degree grad class in its last semester, show features art inspired by ‘fullness’

By
Contributing Writer
Friday, January 25, 2013

The Dual Degree’s exhibitions move to the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts this year allowed for larger pieces, such as the refrigerator installation, above, by Lukas Bentel ’15 and Kevin Wiesner ’15.

Men in bright kilts milling about, a tower of fridges packed with beer and ice cream, a glass jar filled with hand-written wishes and an open-invitation potluck. These are just some of the pieces one might encounter at “Full,” the fifth annual Brown-RISD Dual Degree Exhibition, currently on display in the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

Last night’s official opening marked an evening of dual significance for the Dual Degree Program — the last semester of the program’s first graduating class and the first year the Granoff Center has been used as the exhibition space for the program’s artworks.

Thirty students across all five years of the program contributed a total of 39 works to the voluntary exhibition. This year’s theme, “Full,” was selected to “reflect the current stage of the program,” said Rachel Ossip ’15, a member of the committee responsible for choosing what she referred to as the “ever-hotly debated” topic of the show.

“This is the first year that there are five years in the five-year program, so it’s full in that manner,” she added.

The open-ended nature of the theme allowed for the range of styles and media used by students, including fine arts, design, installations, textiles and animation.  Interpretations of fullness ranged from the literal ­— with depictions of food, such as Isabel McCormack’s ’15 painting “Alimentary, Dear Watson” — to the symbolic — with representations of filled or empty space, such as Dora Mugerwa’s ’15 steel and sheet metal chair, “A Member of a Fragile Species.”

Multiple artists interviewed said this year’s move to the Granoff Center allowed greater autonomy over their works. Formerly housed in the Brown/RISD Hillel, the center for Jewish life on campus, the previous Dual Degree exhibitions were restricted in terms of the size of the works, the content and even the selection of cheeses served on opening night.

“We wouldn’t be allowed to show nudes (at Hillel), and figure drawing is a big part of the artistic training at RISD,” Ossip said. “So it would ban us from that conversation.”

“It’s a much more formal, professional exhibition than in previous years,” said Dual Degree exhibition veteran Youbin Kang ’14.

“Because Granoff is a dedicated gallery space, we can have a lot more free-standing sculpture, and there’s more accommodation for video pieces,” Ossip added. While one proposal of a Lego tower spanning all levels of the Granoff Center was dismissed due to safety regulations, other large-scale works were featured in the exhibit.

One work that benefits from this newfound freedom was “For Your 42’’ Flatscreen TV,” a collaboration between Lukas Bentel ’15 and Kevin Wiesner ’15. This installation consists of a stack of seven mini-fridges filled with beer and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, complete with the appliances’ ambient humming. The artists’ friends said they were “more than happy” to contribute to the work by donating old fridges and consuming pints of ice cream.

The QR codes beside each artwork, which can be scanned with a smartphone to allow viewers to access an online artist’s statement, are another new addition to the exhibition.

While there was an overwhelmingly positive response to the exhibition, some viewers expressed skepticism about Jian Shen Tan’s ’15 performance piece “A Full Table.” This was an interactive potluck involving fellow artists and audience members. With little signage or explanation, its display on the same level as the catered food created confusion between what was part of his piece and what was free food.

The creativity extended to the use of space. To the surprise of gallery-goers, certain artworks were hung in the bathrooms and elevator bays. “We were excited about that because it’s unexpected, and it pushes the notion of ‘full’ into putting work where people might not normally find it,” said Ossip.

The exhibition will hang until Feb. 13.“I just hope those mini fridges don’t return to my basement!” Ossip said.

  • KKW

    Correction: cover photo features *Jian Shen Tan* ’15 and Kevin Wiesner ’15.

  • Tom Pomez

    There is no refrigerator installation in the photo at the top of the page.
    What does it look like?
    I want to see!!!