A Cool Thing You Probably Missed: Axolotl Day

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One of the “Axolotl Art Contest” submissions.

Although I was already planning on attending Axolotl Day when one of my editors pressured politely asked me to cover the event, I had not the slightest clue what an axolotl was. But as I exited the Sci-Li elevator and entered the Science Center, I knew I was in my element.

The atmosphere was like that of a second grade birthday party. There were balloons, a face painting station, free pizza, and a raffle to win a real live axolotl (which I later learned was a critically endangered type of salamander). I entered my name into the axolotl lottery and sat down to listen to a short talk about the creatures.

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Nostalgia Trip: Lisa Frank is hiring

I know this is funny, but we aren’t joking.

Do you all remember your first trip? No, I’m not talking about Spring Weekend 2012. I’m talking about 2002, when you got your first Lisa Frank school folder:

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Or what about that notebook?

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In one way or another, Lisa Frank products and the elusive identity of Lisa Frank herself have together crafted our psychedelic fantasies.

If you’re a senior on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, and either have no post-grad plans OR are looking to live the rest of your life in what appears to be a combination of kindergarten and an upper-level MCM and/or VISA class, we’ve found just the thing for you. We’ve got the scoop that CareerLAB doesn’t.

LISA FRANK IS HIRING!

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Evolution through wind and PVC: Theo Jansen at RISD

Theo Jansen demonstrates his Strandbeests' "water feelers," which respond to moisture by rapidly firing leg pistons.

Theo Jansen demonstrates his Strandbeests’ “water feelers,” which respond to moisture by rapidly firing leg pistons to move in the opposite direction.

Theo Jansen, a Dutch polymath engineer-artist extraordinaire and the father of kinetic, wind-powered “Strandbeests,” came to RISD Friday night to deliver a lecture to a packed auditorium Although not a household name, Jansen is somewhat of a rock star at RISD.

His talk was presented by RISD/Brown STEAM, a group dedicated to promoting cross-disciplinary work between STEM fields and the arts. They demonstrated a five-foot tall cardboard Strandbeest of their own. Collaborative partners included RISD Government Relations and the RISD Programming Board.

Jansen is known for merging physics, engineering, biology, and art in large PVC kinetic animals that walk down the beaches in Holland on their own accord. These beasts move their legs with pneumatic PVC cylinders powered by compressed captured air. They have a purely mechanical nervous system that is able to respond to its environment by changing direction once it detects water or shifty terrain, by anchoring itself into the ground when it senses a storm coming, or by sending smaller “scouts” in front to test the surroundings.

In the talk, Jansen ruminated on the evolution of his career, imagination, and the beasts themselves.

Here are some of the most resonant thoughts Jansen shared Friday night, after the jump.

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Orly Genger’s “YOU” actually isn’t just an art installation

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By now, you’ve probably walked by Orly Genger’s YOUa.k.a. that gigantic mass of lobster rope on the Quiet Green. The structure, which is allegedly a work of “public art,” wraps around a tree at one end and extends towards the Van Wickle Gates at the other. Viewers are drawn to the structure’s unique contour, layout, and location–features they naïvely attribute to Genger’s artistic vision. “After all,” they assume, “what else would explain it? It was purely her decision–it’s not like there was an ulterior motive behind her design.”

Or was there?

The sculpture suspiciously resembles a number of other very interesting objects, which begs the question: what is the real purpose behind Orly Genger’s YOU?

Here are some possible explanations:

paxson sledding on orly genger sculpture

I’m not saying that this happened, but…

Possibility #1: President Paxson’s personal street-luge practice course. If you had the opportunity, would you learn to luge? You would, wouldn’t you? For that matter, wouldn’t anyone…even President Paxson? Enter: YOU. At second glance, it’s glaringly obvious that the structure is actually a miniature practice course for President Paxson to use when she doesn’t have enough time to get away from the office and go to the nearest street-luge practice facility.

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folkmade.org launches tomorrow

folkmade websiteFolkmade.org, a website created by a small group of Brown students and led by Fiora MacPherson ’16, provides a platform for College Hill artists to share both their work and their stories.

The idea was conceived earlier this year, when MacPherson and some friends decided that it was time to improve connections between Brown/RISD artists and the greater College Hill community. Folkmade’s mission statement illustrates this goal; the website aims to “acknowledge the talent in our community” and “celebrate the homegrown makers of our campus” by giving them a way to share their work and their passion with their neighbors. And the organization has done just that; Folkmade will transform the presence of the local art community in everyday life on College Hill.

At folkmade.org, consumers can purchase authentic artwork created by Brown/RISD students. The single unifying feature of the products is their excellent quality; aside from that, the store features a wide array of incredible artwork that spans many styles and mediums. Currently, pieces range in price from $5 to $100 and the product list ranges from oil paintings all the way to literal benches. And that’s only the beginning.

According to MacPherson, the online store will grow with time; artwork will be added in frequent intervals, so the store functions as an ever-evolving showcase of the wealth of beautiful art being produced on the Hill.

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: Coco Fusco ’82 to deliver talk

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Coco Fusco’s Observations of Predation in Humans (2013), Norte Sur (1990), and A Room of One’s Own (2006-08)

Coco Fusco is a Cuban-American multimedia artist and writer, whose work incorporates digital media and performance ranging in format from large-scale projections to interactive live performances streamed online. Fusco’s work often comments on systems of gender, race, politics, war, and identity.

Fusco will visit campus this Thursday to give a talk at 4 p.m. in the List Art Center auditorium, room 120. The event is free, but tickets are required.

Fusco received her AB in Semiotics from Brown in 1982, going on to get her MA in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford (1985) and her PhD in Art and Visual Culture from Middlesex University (2007). Fusco, currently MIT’s 2014-15 MLK Visiting Scholar, has taught at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Columbia, and Parsons The New School for Design. Her work has been exhibited at two Whitney Biennials (1993 and 2008), the Tate Liverpool, the MoMA, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. She is the author of several books, including English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (1995), which examines the tension between cultural identity and visual politics, and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008), which addresses the exploitation of sex and sexuality in the military for interrogation techniques.

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