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The Art of Critical Making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice by John Maeda, Mara Hermano, Rosanne Somerson

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The Art of Critical Making: An Introduction

Rosanne Somerson

Walk along the riverfront in Providence, Rhode Island, at the foot of “College Hill,” and you may be surprised by what you see. You might easily walk beside someone carrying a hollow six-foot shoe fabricated from woven wire, or alongside a group of students balancing their newly finished chairs on their backs and heads, or pass someone lugging a drawing portfolio so large and unwieldy that you might be tempted to stop and ask to assist. On certain days there could be fashion collections wheeled on hanger racks, or recycled industrial off-cuts of felt and cork spilling out of bags slung over shoulders, or even sculpted metal chopsticks three times the height of the woman hauling them. Someone might have laced delicate woven yarn around trees lining the river walk, preparing their branches with sweater-like covers for winter. Out of sight, inside the studios and labs, a diverse range of projects could likely be developing — investigations into sustainable systems for food transport, or objects designed for extreme climates, or a video that correlates and weaves together two events happening simultaneously in different locations.

Art schools are lively places, but few outside their walls have the opportunity to experience the kind of environment where the new is manifest every day, where paradigms are continually stretched and challenged, and where shock and beauty flourish side by side. What is the “magic” in the art and ...

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