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The ‘2013 RISD Faculty Biennial’

A wondrous window
By GREG COOK  |  March 6, 2013


Giant moths hover over the beacon atop the art deco Superman Building (okay, the Bank of America Building) in Chris Buzelli's dreamy painting for a poster advertising the national ICON Illustration Conference that was held in Providence last June. The midnight blue sky twinkles with stars, and a gondola glides down the Providence River, dotted with bonfires for WaterFire.

Buzelli's vivid, cartoon-real ode to Providence is one of the wonders of the "2013 RISD Faculty Biennial" at the RISD Museum (224 Benefit St, Providence, through March 17). It is big, fun smorgasbord. The art isn't organized around any themes, but the show is a window into what Providence's most prominent art institution is up to. And, damn, these folks can make the art.

The illustration department in particular. Check out Kelley Murphy's creepy-cute oil and acrylic painting of girl discovering a hidden passage for the cover of Behind the Bookcase; Antoine Revoy's ink drawing of some sort of monkey/raccoon/bird/plant vortex blooming over a city to reveal a marauding skeleton army; Trent Burleson's honey-hued surreal painting of flowers; and the selection of printouts reproducing Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges's kids book covers. Also Mary Jane Begin's pencil, pastel, and watercolor My Little Pony Under the Sparkling Sea is about as OMG twinkling fabulous as the title suggests.

OTHERWORLDLY Snyder’s Flavia.

Sculpture teacher Dean Snyder's Flavia is a giant, glistening, red-freckled, violet plant pod-thing sprouting stems that end with red orifices resembling pitcher plant vases. It's made of carbon fiber and epoxy colored with pink pearl auto paint. It feels both natural and alien and oddly sexy — like something trying to lure you close with its otherworldly beauty so that it can suck your face off and plant its spores in your belly.

Jennifer Prewitt-Freilino of the history, philosophy, and social studies department presents her ridiculously cute Lillie Art photos. These are shots of a baby girl posed in costumes amidst dolls and (what look to be) custom-sown stages. She seems to be an astronaut in space, lounging at the beach, running a race, dancing under a rainbow, sailing a ship. It's hard to go wrong with an adorable infant, but Prewitt-Freilino's imagination and execution are freakin' formidable.

The Biennial continues with handsome faceted geometric abstractions like Carl Fasano's oil painting Wall Piece I and Joshua Enck's slate blue geometric wood sculpture Subduction (they're both the foundation studies teachers). Furniture design teacher Deborah Folz's Spira Table is an ingeniously clever mix of crisp futuristic design and nostalgia in a clear acrylic end table with geometric Spirograph designs of fishing line embedded in it. Sculpture teacher Lucky Leone's DanSAT2 seems to be a satellite transmitting via radio and flashing lights messages of mnemonic devices to remember the lengths of months and such to the universe.

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Related: Review: RISD's '2011 Faculty Biennial' impresses and inspires, Review: Tom Wolfe at The NMAI and Trent Burleson at the NAM, Generation gap, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Trent Burleson
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