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Uriah FracassiFoundations student Uriah Fracassi sees his Research, Practice and Methods class, which is part of MIAD’s First-Year Experience, as a filter. Students pour information from other classes and experiences into the RPM class, which helps inform their personal choices about media and disciplines, and their own contemporary art and design practice.

“I’ve learned how to investigate myself,” said Fracassi, who plans to go into Illustration after much thought brought on by his RPM class. “It’s been a very good experience.”

Twelve theme-based courses make up the RPM curriculum, with titles as varied as “Useful Art a.k.a. Design,” 3D Design for a 2D Material, Intrapersonal Chronicles, and Design and the Elastic Mind. They, and MIAD’s 180 freshmen, all came together in an exhibition that was a powerful window not only into the First-Year Experience, but also into each student’s personal creative process.

The Research, Practice & Methods Exhibition opened Monday, November 21 in MIAD’s Fourth Floor Raw Space and ran through December 2.

Uriah skull“This year’s exhibit stressed not only the quality of the students’ work, and its significant increase in diversity of media and format, but also the students’ new experience of being in charge of installation,” said David Martin, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

“So you saw artists’ books suspended from the ceiling; elegant, elevated illuminated rooms; highly crafted cut outs; among the many works on view; plus a unique digital installation with examples from each freshman’s visual journal,” said Martin.

Fracassi is enrolled in “Intrapersonal Chronicles,” taught by Professor James Barany ’92 (Drawing), which deepens students’ historical and contemporary awareness. Through research, students develop personal senses of identity and purpose, while comparing themselves to the notion of the ‘other.’

“It’s a class that lets you delve into your influences,” Fracassi said. “It’s an early investigation into what you might do as a senior.”

“I think we have all exceeded our own expectations,” Foundations student Nick Kinsella said. “That’s the real challenge that my class and the teachers have put out for us, to ‘wow’ ourselves.”

Kinsella bikeKinsella is enrolled in Jason Yi’s “Design and the Elastic Mind,” a class that assigns students to research artists and designers who would be considered aesthetically opposite to the student. For the exhibition, students made creations reacting to their research, while maintaining some of their own style.

“It’s based in stretching the boundaries between design and fine art,” Kinsella said of the class. “It’s an Integrated Studio Arts-focused class, where we try to challenge ourselves as artists in the way we think about art, the process of making it and how we get to the end product.”

Through the class, students have researched artists, focusing on the importance of communicating a message in their work, along with the skills to give viewers something to take away from a piece.

“I’ve really learned another way of creating my art,” said Kinsella, a future ISA major. “It has opened me up to the idea that I can break out of my own style and tendencies, and still do things that I really like.”

Emily Siira, another first-year student, is learning how to create designs with practical use and aesthetic value in Robert Lynch’s “Useful” Art class. The class has encouraged Siira to study Industrial Design.Emily Siira

“It’s a good introduction to design in general. You learn the process,” Siira said.

Siira and her classmates exhibited two assignments from Lynch’s class for the RPM show, an architectural lantern and a cardboard table. The assignments made students think about materials, space, lighting, scaled models, precedents and the steps of the design process.

“I’ve learned how to better go through the process of designing something,” Siira said. “I’ve learned how to make art useful and how to make an everyday product artful.”

RPM installationThough each class each is unique in its approach to the subject matter, media and applications, said Martin, “they all focus on making freshmen work engaging and personally meaningful. Students do in-depth research guided by personal inquiry to develop critical thinking and learn to communicate ideas in a substantive way. The classes promote a deeper understanding of the personal creative process and the development of a student’s own studio practice.”

“It will be exciting to watch how the students will carry their RPM explorations into their selection of one of two additional new First-Year courses that continue and broaden either three dimensional exploration (Spatial Concepts) or two-dimensional exploration (Image & Drawing Concepts).”

Click here to learn more about MIAD’s First-Year Experience.

Click here to apply.

First image: Uriah Fracassi ’15 illustrated this work in his class with James Barany.
Second image: Another Fracassi illustration from his class with Barany

Third image: Nick Kinsella ’15 created this work in Jason Yi’s class.
Fourth image: Emily Siira ’15 designed her architectural lantern for her class with Robert Lynch.
Fifth image: These installations were created by Amy Vergeront ’15 (foreground) and Ting Ting Zhou ’15 (rear) in MIAD Faculty member Ashley Morgan’s class “Installation Art.”