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RISD MFA Graphic Design exhibition 2011

Rhode Island School of Design MFA Graphic Design exhibition 2011
RI Convention Center, Providence
May 10 – June 4, 2011

Statement: «The 2011 RISD Graphic Design MFA Thesis Show is a group exhibition of selected thesis work from the RISD Graphic Design MFA Class of 2011. The show is published in a catalogue which will be displayed and distributed at the annual RISD Graduate Exhibition. The show is the catalogue, which is also the show.

This is the collective effort of 15 designers, the result of five months of research, conception, and production.
The Graphic Design Thesis Show is a group exhibition presented as part of the Rhode Island School of Design’s annual Graduate Thesis Exhibition. The Graduate Exhibition shows the work of Masters’ candidates from 16 disciplines in a temporary gallery space installed in the exhibition halls of the Rhode Island Convention Center.
Our work exists in three challenging contexts: in the space of the gallery; in the expanse of the convention center; and in relation to each other’s work and the work of other designers and artists. How do we show graphic design in the gallery setting, and how can we make a coherent show from the work of 15 designers?
Beginning in January, we met regularly as a class to develop the concept and content of the show. We pondered how our show could support the graduate exhibition by creating spaces for observation and dialogue. We experimented with ways to make the show interactive and distributive. We developed strategies to tackle the extreme scale of the convention hall. Throughout, we discussed how to exhibit our very different bodies of work as a single, collective gesture.

Fluid working groups developed ideas which were fully explored through research into precedents, physical models, digital renderings, materials research, and budget analysis. A studio led by critic Rob Giampietro offered a forum to critique concepts and discuss strategies around the exhibition of graphic design.

During the course of the studio, we talked with Jon Sueda (CCA/Wattis) and James Langdon (East Side Projects), two designers who have recently curated shows of graphic design in a fresh and critical manner. We drew inspiration from the course reading Support Structures, an investigation of platforms of interaction between art, design, institutions, and space. We were particularly drawn to Antoni Muntadas’s Exhibition which strips the display conventions of the gallery of content, reframing the gallery space and exposing it as a system of display.

The show draws further inspiration from other designers engaged in the critical exhibition of graphic design, including Peter Bil’ak’s Graphic Design in the White Cube (2006) and Julia Born’s Title of the Show (2009) as well as the cover of XTC’s Go 2 album by Hipgnosis (1978). In their work, these designers expose the systems of the conceptualization, production, exhibition, and distribution of graphic design.

This is the catalogue of the show, which is also the show. It is a collection of work from our individual thesis investigations; an index of the physical gallery space; and a record of our collaborative process. The show is a unified work that extends beyond the exhibition space and hinges on its distribution. The work is not complete until it enters circulation.

The 2011 RISD Graphic Design MFA Thesis Show exists on the walls of the gallery, in frames and on screen, on pedestals and under glass. It is in your hands and on the internet. Graphic design lives in all of these spaces, and it thrives in its distribution and circulation.

—RISD Graphic Design MFA Class of 2011»

The catalogue/show is available for download.