RISD Parents Weekend is also RISD Alumni and RISD Family Weekend. Held on Columbus Day weekend, it’s when RISD throws out the welcome mat to offer visitors opportunities to connect with students, faculty and staff, explore studios and galleries, and be reminded of what makes RISD so special.
And they really do it up! There were classes for kids held by actual RISD professors. My husband signed up our son for Cartooning, and our middle daughter for Photography. There were limited spots so he grabbed them a spot without checking with them first. They were not pleased with this and threatened to boycott.
We bribed to get them to join their class. My son’s class focused on creating characters. It looked right up his alley and there were several kids there. With supplies. We were not that prepared but luckily paper and pencils were provided.
My daughter’s class turned out to be a private lesson. The other 8 kids who were signed up, no-showed. That’s really a shame because not only was the RISD photography professor there, but he also had a teaching aide and assistant.
While the kids were in their class, I followed my oldest to check out her future major: textiles. There were also open houses hosted by upperclassmen for freshmen trying to decide.
Meanwhile, my husband was tasked with parking the car and finding us later. There isn’t a lot of metered street parking nearby, but he managed to find a spot near her dorm. Between her dorm and the textile open house, was a massive Art Fair with artwork and crafts from RISD alumni and students. It was packed!
My husband was distracted by a display of Asian Pop Art by John Hung Ha. It reminded him of Andy Warhol, but Asian! He decided right then and there that he was going to be an art collector. Good decision. Artists need support and what better place to support artists than a RISD art fair? We left with this piece.
We collected the two kids from their classes after that and we all went back to the RISD art fair where there were also gourmet food trucks. RISD does an exceptional job mixing art with great food. Their student cafeteria has an actual Japanese lady who cranks out vegetarian sushi. Their soda fountain is stocked with Maine Root sodas! And, The Met (the main dining hall) has an actual brick oven where gourmet pizza is cranked out daily.
Proximity is everything. Johnson & Wales is a stone’s throw away, and they run the food concessions at RISD as practice for their highly regarded culinary program. It’s ironic that RISD has such amazing food; most of the other art colleges that we visited did not even have food services due to lack of space.
Needless to say, we like to hang out at The Met. RISD graciously opens it up and there’s no charge for parents and siblings. Still, we didn’t eat much as we had a special dinner planned that night to celebrate our son’s birthday with all his siblings.
The art classes turned out to be great. My daughter got a private lesson in shooting and editing portraits. She also was gifted with three large photographs. I framed one of them for her. My son drew characters that were, for once, not Naruto not Goku. That’s proof positive to me that RISD really is a special place that allows students to take creative risks.
RISD takes is able to funnel creative talent into social justice causes. The Abled Differently DESIGN AT RISD exhibit impressed me on how much design can have an impact. Here, students can access mentors and professors to put their industrial design talents to work to help solve problems of accessibility. It’s a real-world problem that applies engineering with creativity to make the world a better place.
And that is indeed why RISD is so special. It isn’t creativity as shock value. Or creativity for the sake of being different. Instead, there is thoughtfulness behind the curriculum which seems to think that if you take a group of extremely talented creatives, and show them that they can change the world, then they actually can.
p.s. Related Posts: Applying to Art School
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