J+M also offers a unique course of study: a custom-designed, year-long program for students interested in building upon their undergraduate experience. Based on one-on-one work with a designated faculty member, the program helps students combine conceptual thinking and technical abilities into a well-rounded studio practice tailored to individual interests.
Graduates are prepared to:
• understand how the history of adornment influences contemporary movements in jewelry
• gain a greater awareness of current topics specific to the discipline, such as value of materials, authorship, audience and personal identity
• move an original idea from conception to realization through well-crafted work
• articulate personal concepts and show creative development through a strong portfolio of work
• develop the competence and confidence to pursue a well-informed practice as a jewelry designer, either through an established studio or working independently
• demonstrate the technical and theoretical background necessary to pursue an advanced degree in the field
RISD’s graduate program in Jewelry + Metalsmithing cultivates individual excellence by emphasizing rigorous research, material experimentation and creative practice. Graduate students produce meaningful work by being encouraged to question and investigate the forces that motivate them and to engage in critical discourse with the creative community within and beyond the department.
• be conversant with research precedents and conditions to establish premises for original work
• articulate and defend the positioning of original work in light of historical, theoretical and conceptual influences
• understand the distinctions between and benefits of visual and verbal modes of communication in studio practice by both creating and describing original work
• situate one's work in contemporary contexts and advance the broader conversation in the field
With its small size and high ratio of faculty to students, the program offers focused, individual attention to a dozen graduate students as they define their methodologies, delve into research areas of their own choosing and explore the intersections between art, craft and design. Graduate students inspire each other and also benefit from the wide range of visiting artists, critics and practicing professionals from around the world who are invited to campus to offer critical input.
Both graduate and undergraduate students (approximately 35) work with high-end equipment in the department’s specialized facilities but each person also has an assigned workbench with a torch, ventilation and storage. Graduate students engage in work independently and need to remain open-minded and responsive to feedback and dialogue. Risk-taking is imperative for advancing individual creative practice and locating one’s work within a larger contemporary context. In short, graduate students are expected to open up new, uncharted territory and demonstrate high levels of competency, setting the standard for the department as a whole.
Sophia Readling MFA 2012
Mallory Weston MFA 2013
Jillian Matthews MFA 2013
Manuela Jimenez MFA 2013
Leslie Boyd MFA 2013
“Our graduate program in Jewelry + Metalsmithing is both a bastion of tradition and a vanguard of innovation. We offer students individualized support from diversely skilled and experienced faculty members, along with distinguished guest critics who propel them along personal lines of research. We cultivate professional curiosity as well as empathy, encouraging students to respect otherness and reject cultural and aesthetic appropriation.”
As an important supplement to studio classes, the graduate seminar addresses issues particular to the field, along with broader concerns in contemporary art. Seminars are structured around the analysis of readings, presentations and field trips, with the resulting discourse creating a bridge between theoretical concerns and hands-on making.
In addition to the standard MFA program, the post-baccalaureate option allows candidates with diverse professional backgrounds and conceptual interests to gain technical proficiency and critical feedback through a year-long immersion working one-on-one with a designated faculty member.
In the final semester, degree candidates focus on creating a comprehensive body of work under the guidance of a thesis committee. All MFA candidates produce a written thesis and participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition, a large-scale public show held annually.
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