RISD Museum’s “Design the Night”

Tonight, I went to the RISD museum to partake in their “Design the Night” event. Now, normally I will visit a space, mull over it, write up my first impressions within a day or two, mull it over again, refresh my memory with some internet research, tweak and add, mull it over a bit more, final tweaks, then POST! Quite the process, I know. However, with a quiet weekend and my not feeling up to posting the more personal piece in the archive (That is less likely to see the light of day now), I’m forgoing my usual process. You will be getting raw, fresh impressions before I’ve had a chance to rethink what I’ve said.

It has been well over a DECADE since my last visit to the RISD Museum, so visiting the museum tonight was much like rereading a book from one’s childhood. With two RISD alumni in the family, it was a favored outing of my grandmother’s to take us all to the museum. While some of the layout and work was familiar, there had been enough changes that I felt fully engaged in finding things I don’t think that I’ve ever seen before. Or perhaps I may have seen them, but through the eyes of a young teenager who hadn’t yet minored in art history.


I went with the intent of viewing their more recent exhibition “What Nerve!”, but with the entire museum at one’s disposal I couldn’t help but wander as much of the space as I could. I didn’t know how many modern art masters that this space had as most of the art I remembered comes from their ancient art collection (You NEVER forget the mummy as a child). With works from Rothko, Picasso, Pollack, Monet, Van Gogh, etc… I have to admit that I got sucked into the various collections.

photo 2(6)

Gladys Nilsson

“What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present” brought quite a bit of work from the 1960’s & 70’s to light for me. Some of the work brought images of my 90’s childhood to mind, so I’m willing to bet that the aesthetic of this movement influenced many animators and designers of that era. I swear I saw figures that could be characters on the television show “Doug”. The comic enthusiast in me got really excited to see lesser known work from Marvel hero Jack Kirby. There were many trends and groups of artists represented in this exhibition and I’d love a second look through with less people around.

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby

With a multitude of events and free admission, the museum was abuzz throughout with people. It seemed to be the social event of the night, with people commenting on running into numerous people they knew. I planned on entering “gallery ghost” mode, wandering through unseen, but even this somewhat new girl in town ran into a familiar face and met a few more. Even though I missed a curatorial talk (GRR!), I wandered through a public drawing session and had multiple tours walk past me. A number of RISD students had tables throughout the museum with their work and were engaged in discussion with the various attendees.

With a busy weekend coming up of art events to attend, I’m afraid that this is the only chance I have to discuss tonight’s events. But sometimes it’s best to share initial, rough impressions. I hope that you get a chance to check out and enjoy the many collections that the museum has to offer. Bring the kids! They’ll remember the mummy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *