Since Jan. 23, visitors to the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts have been greeted by artwork displaying the obscure, other-worldly and mythical. “The Witching Hour” is the annual presentation of various artworks created by students in the Brown-RISD Dual Degree program. These works comprised BRDD’s annual student exhibition and will be available for public viewing until Feb. 26.
At the exhibition, viewers can see works that convey themes of “magic, mystery, mysticism, myth, rites and rituals, the grotesque, the fantastical, the uncanny, curiosities and wonder,” according to the exhibit’s description on Events@Brown.
“It’s like a very weird, magical experience,” said Cassandra Carrasco ’26, a member of the Executive Committee who submitted both a painting and a series of prints for the showcase.
The Executive Committee of the exhibition was responsible for content decisions within the exhibit, “including the theme and title of the exhibition, and selecting which submissions would be included,” wrote Hanna Exel, curricular and co-curricular program coordinator, wrote in an email to The Herald. Program students were also involved with the exhibition’s branding and installation committees.
Carrasco’s painting, “L’écorché,” plays on what she described as a common artistic exercise of encapsulating “the sensation of feeling one’s own body.” She added that the painting serves to imagine what a figure might look like if their skin was removed.
The exhibition features 51 pieces of various mediums from 34 different artists enrolled in the dual degree program, according to Naya Lee Chang ’24, a BRDD student and Executive Committee member.
“The exhibition is definitely supposed to showcase all the different things that dual degree students are doing, which range from your traditional fine art to some really experimental video and audio,” Chang said. “I think it really shows that there’s not one way of being a dual degree artist … and a lot of that is on display at (the) Granoff.”
Matteo Papadopoulos ’26, said that he saw this variety on display when he attended the exhibit. “I saw combinations of concentrations and mediums that were vastly different from one another, but came together to produce truly compelling artistic pieces,” he said.
Hoping to produce a unique piece of art, Adam Colman ’26 — another member of the Executive Committee — used a series of rocks that he had picked up on hiking trips in his piece titled “Stone Stacking Journey.”
“These rocks were kind of an index of my engagement with the world and how I find my place and inspiration,” he said. Colman also noted that the piece had a direct relationship to his personal sense of ritual and wonder.
Similarly focused on the theme of ritual, Yukti Agarwal ’24.5 used textiles as her mode of art for the exhibition. Her piece, titled “Neelambari Nightwear,” was inspired by ancient Indian ragas, a musical feature of classical Indian music. Displayed in the Cohen Gallery, her piece features a machine-knit nightgown that “tries to map sound using a striping sequence” that delves into “the idea of psychosomaticism,” she said.
Agarwal added that her work was shaped both by her Indian heritage as well as RISD’s longstanding history with the textile industry.
“I’m trying to critique the idea of the place that I come from as a place that’s not always associated with these ideas of mysticism,” she said. “Spaces (like this) allow you to acknowledge that you’re here within these very colonial organizations and institutions, trying to figure out where you fit in and how you change the structure in your own small way.”
“Overall, it’s nice because as an artist you get to see your pieces up in a gallery,” Chang said. “And for the committees, you get to see what goes on behind the scenes of putting on the exhibition.”
“I love the idea of making a show specifically for dual degree students and then having such an integral part in making it happen,” Rachel Moss ’23, an Executive Committee member, said. Moss added that often, RISD students are not “really involved with the organization of” exhibitions.
“Having this kind of hands-on experience really just adds” to the exhibit, she said. This year, students took on new responsibilities for the exhibition’s execution after BRDD’s Associate Director left her position in October.
Students organizing the show “were really dubious about whether we would be able to have a show without her,” Agarwal explained. “She was pretty much the grounding force of the dual degree program.”
Moss, who worked on the executive committee, noted that this year was “a little bit more hectic.”
Despite the changes, Moss noted that “things have run smoothly” with help from dual degree students and staff from the Brown Arts Institute and the Granoff Center.
The event also marked another change from recent years, with the dual-degree program’s first publicly open reception since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, several members of the program noted how organizing the exhibition helped bring them together.
“We all have this very common but unique, weird experience and we’re all very united because of it,” Carrasco said.“But we’re coming from extremely different places. Everyone’s studying completely different things.”
“It’s just really nice to see how we can come together for this exhibition and submit work that’s completely unique and strange,” Carrasco added. “It all fits really well.”
Correction: A previous version of this story referenced the departure of the program's coordinator, when she was the former Associate Director. A previous version of this story also misidentified the starting date of the exhibition. A previous version of this story also featured photos from an incorrect exhibition. The Herald regrets these errors.
Samantha Chambers is a senior staff writer and has previously worked at The Herald as a copy editor. She is a second-year student from Tampa, Florida and is planning on concentrating in sociology.