hey all, just wanted to share my experience with Rhode Island School of Design. I live in New Jersey, so we drove roughly 6 hours to see the school and area. This happens to be my first art school I visited.
First, I had no idea the area we visited, Jamestown, Newport and Providence was so scenic. We stayed by the harbor which was 45 minutes from Providence, where the school resides. Since I'm from the "armpit" state being surrounded by water, yachts, and generally an upper class feeling was new to me. Alas, I was a bit dismayed by the lack of diversity, but enlightened by the fact there were so many good places to eat! In Jamestown, the area has a very small village feel, if you've ever been to New Hope in PA or the village in NYC, you'll understand what I mean. Small streets, cute little stores, and trees all by the harbor.
But that's not why we went; we went to see an art school. Ah, Providence.. They weren't kidding when they said not to expect NYC or even Boston, it's a small city with some renaissance architecture (including canals) but there were plenty of people and traffic. The tour guide we met said, Providence is like a stepping stone to NYC.
RISD sits on top of hills, and as the tour began, she told me, "After you go here for a couple of weeks, you'll have legs of steel. AND develop what we call the artist grip -- tugging your portfolio and supplies while not dropping anything." The campus is beautiful, plenty of historic looking buildings, trees, and overlooks the harbor in some parts, but those hills can be very annoying.
Apparently, this school is notorious for their freshman year. They like to think of it as boot camp, with never ending work and short deadlines. The tour guide, who was very frank, said you get to eat and sleep very little during this time. Even transfers aren't safe. If you transfer into RISD, you will be defaulted to sophomore year, and likely have to go through their summer program, which is freshman year condensed into six weeks.
One of the more interesting final projects Freshmeat undertake is to build a chair that supports your weight throughout the entire critique, and can be folded into a 18'' shape. Or, since there's water by RISD, was to build your own boat and paddle in it -- and points are rewarded for most creative design, fastest boat, and most dramatic sink.
Once accepted, orientation at RISD is that you are taken to their own beach, called the RISD Farm. (Don't ask!) You play in the sand and its all meant to be an ice breaker.
According to the tour guide, RISD pushes observational drawing, despite your major. And even once you pick your major in sophomore year, they want you to take courses outside of your major during the winter break, like Illustrators taking up Jewelry design for six weeks. The tour guide said it's good to have a focus, but still graduate as a well rounded artist.
When she took us to the studios, I saw the work of the sophomore and juniors working from the model and imagination. The work ranged from abstract to trying to work in a realistic fashion. I attend a local community school, and the work is about on par, but, I was impressed that there was a feeling of nurture at this school. By junior year artists get their own studio space in the building, like their own cubicle in an office of cubicles, and are monitored by an instructor. So they just come into their studio space and work. Students work ranged from Odd Nerdrum influence paintings, Francis Bacon to comic book.
There's also a Nature Lab, which houses stuff one might find in Survivor as dinner -- glass jarred scorpions, still born fetuses, stuffed road kill and plenty of skeletons. Students are allowed to take out most of the objects and bring it to their room to study from.
Quite frankly, RISD's financial aid sucks and for about 30 thousand tuition, it's unacceptable. The tour guide didn't blink when she highly recommended we look outside of the school for aid.
Near RISD was Brown University and a culinary art school, which help the social life of "our introverted artists" (tour guide)
If you go to RISD expecting a good fitness or athletic program, look elsewhere. The gym was quite small, and their hockey team is notoriously awful. Even the tour guide couldn't help but poke fun. But if you're serous about working out, you get free access to Brown's gym, which apparently is gigantic, with a track and Olympic size swimming pools.
If it matters, the student diversity at RISD -- from my point of view, having been there from 11am to 4pm from the cafeteria to the studios, was mostly female. I’d say, 3 females to two males. Also, largely Caucasian and Asian, and 20-24 age range. On the tour, she said that by the middle of your education, you pretty much get to know everyone or recognize a lot of faces.
The tour guide was happy to point out RISD accepts only about 30% -- but – I believe any school will make this as their own fact to justify their reputation and expenses. This is not to say those that enroll are there to slack off, because that’s not the feeling I received, and freshman boot camp is certainly there to weed them out.
I could go on, and I am not sure if this is of interest to anyone. But I’m happy to share…:chug: