The Annual Brown/RISD Dual Degree Exhibition, now in its 7th year, opened Thursday night in the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, showcasing works from students in all five years of the cross-institutional program. At the opening reception, members of the Brown, RISD, and local community wandered through the galleries and stairwells of Granoff, enjoying artwork, refreshments, and activities including temporary tattoos and a sign craft station.
This year’s exhibition is titled Of[f] Course, dealing with themes of “expectations, routine, and deviation.” Pieces in this show approach these ideas from different angles, some dealing with associations of physical traveling, through maps, landscapes, and urban motifs.
New Haven, Three Views, by Jeremy Wolin, pictured below, explores this theme by carving into three medical textbooks, almost as raised relief topographic maps. In these views of New Haven, Wolin sculpts into the books an estuary of sorts, a grid-like city plan holding coins, knick-knacks, and found objects, and a sprawling city center.
Some works guide us into the natural world. Jennifer Sparks’s Mesa View Over Time and Clouds, NM 2014, projected on the wall of the first floor landing, takes us to the Mesa View Trail at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, exploring in time lapse the evolving clouds and landscape.
Others, like Natalie Fondriest’s Piazza Traffic, focus more on the urban world. In ink, watercolor, and marker, Fondriest takes us through the narrow streets of Viterbo, Italy, with written words and quotes documenting the dialogue, noises, and energy of the city’s daily life. The piazza is half finished, continuously changing and growing.
Ying Bonny Cai’s Sky, installed overlooking the rest of the Cohen Gallery from above, depicts in charcoal the sun streaming through a gap in the clouds and a distant glowing galaxy. Yoo-Jin Shin’s Space takes us again off our world and into the cosmos, using detergent bubbles to depict space in midnight blues and pale purples, with golden splatters of stars scattering the five panels.
Josephine Devanbu makes use of the physical space of the building, bringing furniture, books, plants, and rubber donuts in I found myself surrounded by… The plant is annotated with dates, seeming to mark the plant’s growth. Rubber donuts, Play-Doh, and even an electric toothbrush are scattered around the scene. The piece’s location on the second to top floor of Granoff made me think I stumbled across the attic office of some nutty science teacher.
Some pieces do not take us to places, and instead lead us into stories. I was particularly drawn to Sophie Gibson’s Erysichthon’s Sin. In the Greek myth, Erysichthon cut down Demeter’s sacred grove to build himself a feast-hall, killing a dryad nymph in the process. Demeter punished Erysichthon for his crime with ceaseless hunger – the more he ate the hungrier he got. Erysichthon eventually ate his own flesh. Gibson’s three sculptures show “crime, retribution, and ultimate punishment.” The three works are so delicately and beautifully painted, sculpted in such a rich level of detail and movement.
Countless other works deal with the “off” part of Of[f] Course, showcasing a variety of mediums and techniques, too disparate to all fit snugly in one completely uniting theme. Yet, Of[f] Course seems to ultimately demonstrate the alternative paths of its students. These dual degree students, with interdisciplinary interests in Sculpture and Geological Sciences or Apparel Design and International Relations, have strayed from traditional academic experiences to make their own paths. A laser cut wooden sign at the opening reception seemed to reiterate this common principle of the program:
Of[f] Course is up in Granoff until February 11.