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A look at RISD’s Experimental and Foundation Studies program | First-year studios

A look at RISD’s Experimental and Foundation Studies program | First-year studios

– My favorite thing about Foundation was that everything was exciting. Everyone and everything you studied was diverse and interesting. And you’re always trying something new and out of your comfort zone. It kind of creates this whole community of excitement and creativity. (peaceful piano music) – The first year at RISD is
made up of three studios, Drawing, Design, Spatial Dynamics, and two liberal arts, Art History and Literary Arts and Studies. Students are grouped into
one group of 20 in the fall and a different mix of
students in the spring. – You’re just thrown in
with 500 other artists that were also probably the
most passionate at their school. So you really get close to
everyone in your section. – They also have three different
studio faculty in the fall and three different ones in the spring. Wintersession at RISD is
in January and February. And it’s when students are
taking just one or two courses, and they do a deep dive
in one of the majors that they might be thinking about. And then they’ll be in that course with sophomores, juniors,
seniors, grad students, and really get to talk to them about all of their experiences at RISD. – The students get a lot
of different viewpoints, sometimes even contradictory, in the way that we define certain terms, in the emphasis that we’ll
place on different subjects, and definitely in the kinds
of projects that we give. The students have to
experience the reality that there are many different
approaches to art and design. – It’s a really healthy way
to go about making things. I mean, you want those
experiences for students because ultimately, they’re
the ones responsible for gathering that information
and deciding for themselves. And it’s a component that they
need to add to that formula to become an independent thinker. – I was very straightforward
in my thinking. But Foundations Year
helped me to really think and understand why I
want to make something. What is the story behind it? – For me, the first year, it’s really finding the
why you’re doing it, which is a different thing than the what and the how to do it. – [Joanne] Our studios
are 7 and 1/2 hours, which gives faculty enough time to work with students one on one, work with the students as groups, do lectures, extended critiques. And they’re very supportive
of first-year students and pay close attention to the development and progress of students. – I think Foundation Year is a time to experiment and kind of break free from any preconceived notions about how you make work and
how you like to make work. I think it makes you a
much more adaptable artist. – The professors, you
know, they’re saying, don’t be afraid to make marks. It’s all about the process. You draw something. You don’t like it, you just smudge it over, and then you make the
next mark more visible. That notion of thinking through creating is something that I really got to develop. – I’ve become much better
at talking about my work and presenting my work. I think part of that is because we are encouraged to think
about our work while we make it, but also reflect upon it after it’s made and when other people receive the work. – It definitely helped
me to think conceptually. And that’s an art form, expressing how you feel, expressing who you are through a design. – We have an amazing faculty. They love working with students
right out of high school, fresh, eager, open. They approach their courses very differently from each other. Some are more traditional. Some are more contemporary
in their approaches. And most of them blend those aspects. They come from all different backgrounds, painters, sculptors, industrial designers, furniture designers,
architects, filmmakers, all teaching in the first year. We really embrace different
ways of making and learning, and that really shows
up in the range of work that comes out of the studios. – Critique is the central
part of learning here. In the beginning, there’s a lot of assumption that somehow we are gonna give answers to things. And over time, the students realize that the best outcome is better questions. – You’re with the same
section for so much time. That really leads to
a better understanding of each other as people, but also as artists. And so when it comes to critiques, you’re able to say, you know, I feel like this is something
you’ve never done before. You really stepped out
of your comfort zone. And then at times, you get the other end, where people say, I feel like you haven’t taken any risks. You’ve been really safe, ’cause you’ve been comfortable with this. And that really helps keep you in check, just start to think about, okay, so how can I
really try something new? How can I further my own education here? – Becoming a well-rounded artist means being able to do more than just that one thing that you specialize in. The different classes inform
each other in that way. So once you have the wisdom to decide which skills you need for which problem, you can create much more dynamic work that relies a lot less
on routine and formula. – You do take your aspects of Design and apply them in Drawing class. Or you take something you learned on your Spatial Dynamics class and apply it to do your Design class. ‘Cause you’re not learning
how to do 3D work. You’re learning about, how does that 3D work relate to all work? – So the important thing
is patience in the students and a trust that the
process can reveal ideas that they hadn’t anticipated. And that’s where it gets really exciting, that they don’t have to come
up with ideas in the beginning and then simply execute those ideas. – By the end of the year, they are so confident
working three-dimensionally, working with technology, drawing. And they really have the confidence to go on into any of the majors. – RISD taught me how to see and how to understand visual communication and things that now, when I approach my making, I want to have intent behind my choices. – I am more comfortable and more at ease with starting in the unknown. And I trust myself that
I have the potential, which I experienced in Foundation Year, to get to a certain point of completion. – The big turning point for me was realizing that I need
to be making work for myself and not to try to impress
people or please a professor. And I think the minute I realized that this is all about me and who
I want to become as an artist, the pressure lifted a little bit. It became much more of
an internal practice, just being able to really find
joy in the experimentation. – We are all inspired by each other. Like after midnight, people are like, hey, can you come critique
this in my dorm room? Yeah, we just did it, ’cause we all care and
care about each other.

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