CRIT NIGHT – Energy and Wonderment

Hello RI Alumni!

We have done it again! Another successful and quite thought provoking CRIT NIGHT! It was a night filled with conversation and not just related to art and design. We talked and asked about how artists balance studio life with everyday life, for example, when you have to get kids to school, the baby’s crying, figuring out what’s cost efficient, studio space vs. home space, etc. It was a great night that shared many aspects of being an artist/designer alum and also living in RI.

Thank you to our panelist, Keith Allyn Spencer ’11 MFA Painting, Nermin Kura ’97 MFA Ceramics, Yasmin Kuhn ’05 FAV,  Kathleen Prindiville ’06 Jewelery+Light Metals, and Meredith Younger 03 Ceramics. Each artist shared great insight about their pieces and informed us about their inspiration, meaning and process.

For example, I was really intrigued by this term, “fuzzy fauna” that Kathleen mentioned when she talked about her hippopotamus necklace. She is currently working on a series of pieces that will highlight various endangered species that typically do not get much attention due to not being “fuzzy fauna”. For those interested, examples of “fuzzy fauna” are polar bears, panda bears and koala bears. She hopes to highlight trout in the New York area, possible sloths, walruses and honey bees. She hopes to make pieces that will vary in scale and push the boundaries of what can be worn as adornment with a greater cause. Her website is currently under construction but she has a great video that acts as a slideshow of her work,

Then, there was lots of discovery in Keith’s piece. He spoke about being a “painter’s painter” and that he is very process and structure driven. He has “rules” he abides by when making his work and talked about his ideas on materials that are stretched (canvas), the stretcher and the framework behind that. His work is made so that the medium comes through the backside to the front. In the exhibited piece he us using his young son’s underwear and saturating the backside, with the paint to come through, then rubbing it against the floor to pick up the paint and using this motion for mark making. Alumni in the audience asked and encouraged that his piece be shown on a pedestal instead of being hung so the viewer can see the interesting backside structure, hold it and explore. There was also feedback about if its meant to be an object or a painting. Keith did a wonderful job in explaining that he really sees it as a painting and likes that only those who hang the work or end up owning it would have the privilege to see the back.

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Nermin currently teaches at Roger Williams University in the Architecture department. Originally from Turkey, but having lived all over the world, she joined the RISD community as a grad student in Ceramics in ’97. When she talked about her egg series, you could not help but also become obsessed with eggs, her ideas of resonance, the egg being a vessel and also her process. Nermin hit upon many facets of her work that spoke to the “story” that an egg captures, envelops and nurtures, and the wonderment of what that story must be like.We learned about eggs physically in her process and how meticulous it can be because they are so fragile yet have many membranes that can be scraped away.

Although, Yasmin was an FAV major, she has made jewelry all her life and continues to do so. She shared with us her technique of aluminum jewelery, use of magnetic closures, then showed us pieces that she sells at the Alumni sale, they are fun medals made from interesting bottle caps.  John Maeda saw them at a sale and liked them and thought they made great conversation pieces.Her current work involves using found materials, sustainable and also green.

Last but definitely not least, Meredith shared about her large ceramic installation. This piece holds a great deal of personal significance since it symbolized the departure of someone near to her. It is about 5-7 separate pieces (we could not include the large tree and blackbird) that currently lies on green fabric. Meredith not only shared about the emotional elements of this piece but also all the technical ways it was designed and envisioned.The plant that bursts from the figures chest is an azalea which has meaning. She spoke about how plants and flowers in the Victorian age became a language between people when they could not publicly speak about something. Example, whites roses means pure love. The azalea plant symbolize wanting the person who receives them to know and take care of themselves with every best intention. The piece is moving in its posture and the figures facial expression.

Besides being in awe of her firing feats,  I learned a tremendous amount in a short time about ceramics, with all the technical vocabulary that Meredith shared. I know understand porosity, firing at Cone 4 vs. Cone 6, green moving, and what type of epoxy to use if I ever need to build up edges. Really fascinating!

Thank you again alumni  for all the inspirational work and process. CRIT NIGHT is becoming a great event that I hope continues after every exhibition is held!


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