Update from the RISD Museum

Museum/College Engagement, Spring/Summer 2010
The Museum’s mission has always included serving the public and RISD students; nevertheless, the current level of engagement with the RISD community of students, faculty, alumni, and staff is higher than at any time in the last 20 years. A new realization of the potential for exhibitions and programs that benefit both students and our general audience grew out of the recommendations of the 2004 Museum Task Force of the Board of Trustees. Curators, Registrars, and Museum Educators work closely with faculty to facilitate classes and class assignments, guide independent research, offer opportunities for professional development to interns and fellows, involve students in interpreting the collections and mounting exhibitions, providing digital images of the collection and act as a vital point of exchange between college and community. The number of students in classes taught in the Museum, either solely by Museum employees or collaboratively between curators and faculty, has increased to include more than the total number of RISD students annually.
Some forms of engagement are quantifiable — classes, interns, faculty presentations — others remain outside the realm of numbers. The value of the daily opportunity to draw inspiration from a world-class collection and special exhibitions to students of art and design far exceeds curricular assignments. The value of engaging with a community outside the college at the Museum is immeasurable. Below we have listed several different ways in which the Museum interacts with students, faculty and alumni, providing examples of activities during the Spring semester 2010. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but we hope will provide an idea of the Museum’s on-going commitment to working closely with the RISD community.

Museum exhibition planning is weighted toward potential interest and involvement on the part of students, faculty and alumni, not only with regard to the art presented, but also to potential programs, artist visits, medium and technique of the work. Exhibitions benefit the entire community in providing opportunities for inspiration and understanding.
Artists installing exhibitions in the Museum frequently meet with faculty, speak to students about their work in the studios, and attend crits. For the Pat Steir Drawing out of Line exhibition 12 RISD students – both graduate and undergraduate students in Painting, Printmaking and Illustration – worked with Pat Steir’s assistant Anthony Sansotta to execute the wall drawing in the exhibition.
Isaac Wingfield (RISD MFA Photography 2010) and Mazie Harris (Brown, PhD art history candidate) co-curated Presence through Process which featured work from the Museum’s collection that reflected the desire to depict the perceptual and physical experience of the human body, rather than merely its appearance. They created the written interpretation and offered a public gallery talk.
Sitings 2010: Museum as Action is the annual competition open to RISD students to create site-specific installations in the Museum, funded by the Artist’s Development Fund of the Rhode Island Foundation. This year 21 artists submitted 16 proposals for the consideration of the juror Spencer Finch (RISD MFA Sculpture 1989). The winning artists are Celeste Wilson (BFA Glass ’10) for her Translucent Façade on the Museum Associates’ Bridge and Lee Johnson and Benjamin Kyle Peterson (both MFA Ceramics ’11) for their Column in the Spalter New Media Gallery. On Gallery Night, March 18, the Museum organized a gathering to celebrate the winners; John Maeda and the artists spoke to an audience of some 75 people. The installations were on view through RISD’s Commencement Weekend.
The Asian Textile Gallery exhibition and spring 2010 Textile department academic project Designing Traditions Biennial: Student Explorations in the Asian Textile Collection (May 14-November 17) includes textile designs and apparel created by RISD Textile students (sophomores, juniors, and first-year grads) in response to objects from the Museum’s permanent collection. As part of the project, curators presented the Museum objects to over 70 students in the Textile department, participated in a day-long crit pertaining to the project, selected student objects for exhibition with input from Textile department faculty, and, in collaboration with the Textile department, will produce a brochure highlighting the work of all students represented in the exhibition.

Classes visiting the collection
RISD classes visit the galleries or schedule behind the scenes viewing sessions in the Museum, most often co-taught by professors and curators or educators. Many classes visit once or twice during the semester; others, listed below are taught entirely (or almost entirely) in the Museum from the collection. Between January 1, 2010, and May 31, 2010, individual RISD class reservations numbered 133 (2,336 students).
Classes focused on the Museum and its collection:
Jonathan Tavares, Coconut Shells and Unicorn Horns: The Renaissance Studio and Cabinet of Curiosities (Wintersession 2010)
Jonathan Tavares, History of Design II (Spring 2010)
Andrew Raftery, Object Lessons (Wintersession 2010)
Brian Kernaghan, The Narrative Museum (Spring 2010)
Mimi Leveque, An Introduction to the Conservation of Works of Art (Spring 2010)
RISD classes taught by Museum employees:
Deborah Wilde (Museum Associate Educator, Academic Programs), with HAVC Prof. Paola DeMatte, Inside the Museum (Spring 2010)

Open Study Hours
Students have the opportunity to drop in to two curatorial departments during open study hours to request collection objects they would like to examine. Faculty frequently give assignments which require students to do research on objects in the collections and give presentations or write papers. Curatorial staff is vital in guiding students to appropriate objects, making objects accessible, and facilitating research.
a. The Siskind Center (Prints, Drawings and Photographs Department) offers open hours for students two mornings per week during the semester. Spring 2010 to May 1: 39 students. During Wintersession when the Siskind Center does not have scheduled walk-in hours, 25 students made individual appointments to see works on paper.
b. The Costume and Textiles Department offers open hours for students one morning per week during the semester. Wintersession: 18 students; Spring semester to May 1: 42 student visitors and 4 faculty visitors.

MA Program in Museum Education
The Museum Education Department works closely with the Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design to provide professional immersion for MA students in Museum Education in the diverse programs, resources and community relationships developed by the Education Department, including a year-long practicum devoted to Museum teaching and interpretation. MA students focus on object-based teaching through gallery teaching, hands-on art-making workshops and program development. They work closely with school-aged students to make curricular connections with objects at the Museum. The Museum provides professional training and mentorship in tandem with their theoretical studies. This Spring MA students participated in developing new partnerships with schools as well as deepening existing relationships.
After meeting with curators and researching, interpreting, and writing labels for Costume and Textile objects in the Subject to Change exhibition during the spring 2009 semester, MA students in Teaching + Learning in Art + Design saw their labels printed and on view in the Granoff Galleries from January 2010 to April 26, 2010.
Spring 2010: 4 MA students
Fall 2010: 7 MA students enrolled

Interns, Fellows, Work Study students
Internships, fellowships, and work-study positions in the curatorial, education, and collections management departments provide students with training in collection management, digital asset management, art handling (some depts.), research, development of family workshops, exhibition development and label writing, among other types of hands-on experiences that prepare work-place skills for their future careers. Curators, Educators, and Registrars frequently write letters of support for students seeking fellowships, internships and employment and continue to mentor students long after their internship is over.
HAVC Fellows: 3 in Spring ’10
Summer Unpaid Interns: 7 from various colleges and universities in summer ’10
Work-study: 1 in Contemporary Art; 5 in Costume and Textiles; 3 in Prints, Drawings and Photographs; 5 in Education; and 1 in Collection Information and Imaging Services

Student Guides/Art Shots
Developed by the Museum Education Department in the Summer of 2009, 7 student unpaid summer interns (3 from Brown, 1 from RISD, 1 Brown recent grad, 1 Smith, 1 Bates) gave 10-minute talks on Gallery Night in July on their favorite objects in the collection. This experimental summer program became a regular feature of public programming in the spring 2010 with four student volunteers from the summer internship program: 1 RISD and 3 Brown. The Museum is currently inviting students from colleges in the region to apply for the program to start up in the Fall 2010. [25 applications to date]

Public Programs
Our programs are intersections between the RISD community and the public in a museum setting. Many have been co-sponsored by RISD’s academic departments. A poetry reading by Anne Waldman on Sunday April 25, was co-sponsored by the English Department and Liberal Arts and supported by a Humanities Fund Grant. A public conversation between Pat Steir and Julie Mehretu (MFA 1997) was co-sponsored by the Painting Department. These artists discussed how and why drawing became the basis of their work in all media to a packed auditorium. Also, the Museum as Muse talks foregrounded how access to the Museum’s Costume and Textiles storage inspires the current work of artists and designers. The final lecture in this series features RISD alumni Anna Gitelson-Kahn (MFA 2009) and Joe Segal (MFA 2009). A one-day hands-on class offered together by The RISD Museum and Continuing Education provided adults the opportunity to work from the drawings of Pat Steir, in the Museum’s galleries.

Community Days/Free for All Saturday
The Museum’s monthly free programming creates a vibrant point of exchange between current exhibitions, faculty, students, alumni, and the public. The Fall season opened with a collaborative city response project in celebration of the exhibition Inner City. “And we built a city together” was conceived by Meg Turner and Andrew Oesch (RISD 08) as a participatory sculpture with over a thousand contributors during the day. This community day coincided with the Office of Public Engagement’s “Year of Providence” initiative.

The Big Draw offered a celebration of drawing for all in conjunction with the exhibition Pat Steir: Drawing out of Line. RISD students conceived of and taught many components of this day devoted to mark making including a drawing exchange at the student sale on Benefit Street, chalk drawing in the Chace Plaza and response drawing within the Museum galleries. This event attracted over 1500 members of the public, students, staff and faculty.

Anais Missakian, Professor and Head of the Textile Department, co-wrote and co-produced a brochure with curators Kate Irvin and Laurie Brewer for the Designing Traditions biennial exhibition, which grew out of several class projects in the Textile department. She also collaborated with the curators during the planning stages and selection phases of the exhibition.

Critic and Lecturer Anne Emlein, Textile Department, has worked in the Costume and Textiles Department during the spring 2010 semester on a volunteer basis researching knit textiles and apparel in the collection and assisting students during departmental open hours. Emlein will also serve as the department’s first Teaching Fellow during the Fall 2010 semester.

Professor and Department Head Brian Kernaghan (Interior Architecture) delivered a lecture, “The Narrative Museum: Student Visions for the RISD Museum,” in conjunction with the Costume Society of America’s regional symposium hosted by the Costume and Textiles Department in the Metcalf Auditorium, on May 15, 2010.

The Costume and Textiles Department proposed for purchase consideration at the June FAC meeting textile yardage designed by RISD alum and Critic in the Textile Department Gina Gregorio and for gift consideration textiles designed by Alice Marcoux, former head of the Textile Department; three hats belonging to Linda Bowab, former head of the Apparel Department; and a jacket designed by Chunghie Lee, Wintersession lecturer.

Between January 1 and April 30, 2010, the Museum acquired 15 works of art by RISD faculty, past and present, and 8 objects were given to the collection in honor of RISD faculty.

The Museum adds work by RISD alumni to its collection both by purchase and by gift. Between January 1 and April 30, 2010, the Museum acquired 22 works of art given in honor of RISD alumni and an additional 2 works were given to the Museum by alumni.

Other Engagement
Curators, Educators, and Registrars participate in community-wide lectures (13 in Spring 2010), serve on search committees for faculty and staff positions (2 in Spring 2010), and participate as reviewers at Portfolio Days. They serve as visiting critics (5 in Spring 2010) in departments such as Graphic Design and Interior Architecture. Other participation on committees includes the Academic Computing Advisory Committee, Administrative Computing Advisory Committee and the Staff Council. Staff from the RISD community participated in museum education tours.

Continuing Education Classes
1 class (11) students for Spring 2010

Total number of RISD (faculty, staff and student) visits
2,041 for Spring 2010 which can be broken down to: 185 RISD classes with 1500 students and 541 walk-ins

Collection Information and Imaging
The Museum provides direct capture high quality digital images of the collection and exhibitions for educational presentations, professional research, media projects, and print and electronic publications to the college community and to the public for educational, non-commercial purposes. 1666 images were provided to faculty and students during the period covering January – April 2010.

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