Arts & Culture

Brown-RISD students color Granoff

Exhibition’s short films, sculptures, furniture highlight program’s interdisciplinary mediums

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, January 29, 2018

The Granoff Center’s Cohen Gallery began featuring works from Brown-RISD Dual-Degree students last Thursday. The tenth annual exhibition showcases art from the selective interdisciplinary program.

For the next month, the walls of the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts will exhibit the unique skills, interests and talent of students in the Brown-RISD Dual Degree Program as their tenth annual exhibition presents work in a variety of media. Opened on Jan. 25, the exhibit colors the Cohen Gallery and overflows throughout the living rooms and corridors of Granoff.

The gallery immediately confronts visitors with “X: The Tenth Annual Brown-RISD Dual-Degree Exhibition” printed boldly on the wall. Scattered around this title are statements beginning with “X =.” While some comment on the fact that this reflects the dual-degree program’s tenth year in existence, others hint at themes, such as “X = the ambiguous,” “X = the unknown” or “X = anything you want, baby.”

Since its creation in 2008, the five-year-long dual-degree program has maintained its status as a highly selective, intensive course of study. Admitting only 15 students each year, the program aims to allow students to collaborate and work interdisciplinarily as they cultivate their academic and artistic interests, according to the program’s website. “I personally find that the work that I did at Brown informs what I do at RISD,” said Laura Jaramillo ’20, a dual-degree student studying furniture design and gender studies who showed an illustration in last year’s exhibition.

“It provides a separate window into the same mode of thinking,” said Jake Ruggiero ’21, a first-year in the dual-degree program, speaking to the connection between his studio classes at RISD and his literary arts classes at Brown.

In the Cohen Gallery, a piece entitled “Ladder to the Sky” and composed of cotton, silk, linen and denim fabric towers at the center of the gallery’s concrete floor. At certain angles, its image is reflected in the circular mirror of “Valet Chair,” a piece of furniture created to give one the “chance to sit and tie your shoes, grab your jacket and check your face before you leave the house,” as described by the artist, Jana Butman ’18, in a statement on the piece’s plaque. Upstairs, a “semi-satirical, semi-documentary short film” — as described on its plaque — by Haysung Yoon ’18 titled “To do, To Avoid” plays behind the 3D building at the stair landing. Down each corridor, pieces of multiple dimensions are displayed.

The tenth-annual exhibition was hosted by the Brown Arts Initiative. “Our … philosophy is that we are interested in work that is experimental, collaborative (and) engaged,” said Chira DelSesto, associate director of the BAI, adding that the dual-degree students are “poster children” for what the BAI stands for.  Much of the work that they are doing is in new media, DelSesto said, adding that it is the type of “real boundary-pushing work that the BAI promotes.”

The event was attended by students, faculty and community members. “Annually, the opening for the Brown-RISD show, which was just last week, is always our most well-attended exhibition opening, regardless of what the work is,” DelSesto said. This speaks to the community, spanning between both universities, that is fostered by dual-degree students. “For me, (the exhibition) is … a way of catching up with my friends in the program,” Jamarillo said.

The exhibition will be on display in Granoff through Feb. 18.

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