Meet Section 16

When they arrived at RISD as first-year students in the fall of 2014 they were 21 strangers. But randomly grouped together in the 16th of 20 Experimental and Foundation Studies (EFS) sections, they embarked on all of their first-semester studio courses (Drawing, Design and Spatial Dynamics) together, tackling assignments, mastering skills, collaborating on projects and participating in critiques. Their days, evenings and weekends were spent working side by side in the studio.

Now in their junior year, members of Section 16 have been busy exploring what RISD has to offer: they’ve selected majors and chosen liberal arts concentrations. They’re studying abroad in places like Japan and Italy, playing on The Balls (RISD’s basketball team) and working at Carr Haus, the campus coffee shop. They’re representing their peers in student government, performing in plays, editing zines and taking Chinese up the hill at Brown University. They come from all over—Turkey, Ohio, Tasmania, Canada, California, New Jersey and Thailand—and are eager to use their creativity to make RISD and the world a better place.

While this group is unique, the breadth of their experience is representative of every EFS section—students branching out to explore new possibilities while maintaining the friendships they made during their first semester. The Section 16 students exemplify the transformative power of a RISD education. And they're each experiencing it in their own way.

Here’s a glimpse into their first three years.

Section 16 gathers in Associate Professor Norm Paris' Drawing studio. EFS students come to understand drawing as a way to investigate materiality and translate the observable world.
Vincent (left) and Vaughan (right) collaborate on a drawing machine for their first-year Design studio.

Name Vincent Chen
From Edison, NJ
Major Illustration

Name Vaughan Lewis Carman
From Princeton, NJ
Major Apparel Design

Vaughan “We played with color, ink, movement and restriction. The project wasn’t ultimately successful, but I can look back and realize what we did well and what could’ve been done better. I learned a lot from this: rather than judging yourself negatively, you should always be revising.”

Zoë sketches a skull for Drawing studio. RISD students can borrow objects from the Nature Lab as references for projects.

Name Zoë Bax
From Taroona, Tasmania
Major Interior Architecture, independent study in Photography

Zoë “Sketches had to be done fast to train our eyes and hands to concentrate on an object's predominant forms. It’s turned out to be a really useful skill in Interior Architecture where it is important to quickly document sites and interesting spatial features.”

Poornima films a portion of her 48-hour project for Design studio. In EFS students are encouraged to experiment with various mediums and forms of documentation.

Name Poornima Jhanji
From Edison, NJ
Major Graphic Design

PoornimaTika is a gesture you receive before or after praying in the Hindu culture. I recreated the gesture on a 52-yard roll of tracing paper first, then made a video in the same studio space, trying to create a stronger spiritual relationship to the environment. The assignment was tranquilizing; it helped me build a deeper connection to my religion.”

Dennis in his Foundation-year room in the Quad.

Name Dennis Krawec
From Medfield, MA
Major Industrial Design, concentration in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies

Dennis “I definitely overdecorated but I think it added coziness to the room. My roommate's opposing wall featured a single 8.5” x 11” drawing in charcoal. Despite being so different, we actually complemented each other well and I think he lowkey-enjoyed the leopard print rug.”

Kathryn works the register at Carr Haus, the student-run café on campus. More than half the student body participates in RISD's work study program.

Name Kathryn LaMontagne
From North Scituate, RI
Major Textiles

Kathryn “I’ve worked at Carr Haus since my first year. The register is arguably the easiest shift, but my favorite job is making coffee drinks.”

In response to an assignment that asks students to create a wooden device that can break an egg open without touching it, Shivangi considers material and structure with EFS Senior Critic Deb Coolidge.

Name Shivangi Gupta
From Moradabad, India
Major Furniture Design

Shivangi “When I came to RISD I never would have dreamed I’d eventually be a Furniture Design major, but the EFS egg project was an introduction to wood for me.”

Kendra and Henry reflect on their 12-hour drawing projects.

Name Kendra Xu
From Singapore
Major Graphic Design

Name Henry McClellan
From Oakland, CA
Major Printmaking

Henry “It was always helpful to do a process critique before assignments were due. Drawing was super intense and also one of the best studio classes I've had. Some people would pull all-nighters. It was emotionally taxing, but it taught me about the language of critique and how to work hard.”

Yasemin works on a digital model in Spatial Dynamics.

Name Yasemin Orhan
From Istanbul, Turkey
Major Film/Animation/Video

Yasemin “I loved this class. Our teacher Stefanie Pender is a very innovative glass artist. We typically used a setup with minimal lighting because she liked using light to ‘paint’ on objects.”

Joanna critiques a fellow student’s “pile” drawing.

Name Joanna Claessens
From Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Major Film/Animation/Video

Joanna “‘The pile drawing is famous among Norm Paris’ students because it's monumental—literally and metaphorically. Around midterm, we had to make something small—a little sculpture that could be transported to and from studio—and over time turn it into something sublime using at least two of the biggest sheets of paper that the risd:store sells. Norm showed us Géricault's The Raft of Medusa for inspiration.”

Felix performs in the play Reynard the Fox as part of a liberal arts elective offered during Wintersession.

Name Felix Beaudry
From Berkeley, CA
Major Textiles

Felix “Even though I was super scared about my role as Noble the Lion, in the end I thought it was great because I got to dress fancy and act really snooty. I delivered a monologue about how amazing I was and how I was the smartest animal of all.”

Dennis and fellow members of the Student Alliance, RISD's student government group, at an evening meeting.

Dennis “I served as treasurer my sophomore year. We addressed students’ questions regarding health services, registration for classes, Wintersession and other issues. My other really fun responsibility was ordering the food for our meetings every week.”

Henry, now a Printmaking major, in the engraving studio. Students select studio majors halfway through their first year.

Henry “Engraving has been practiced since the Middle Ages. I try to use it to tell stories... I want to make the medium interesting to a new audience. The process takes forever—usually I listen to a podcast or rap album to stay entertained—but the result can’t be reproduced any other way.”

Katie’s collaborative stop-motion animation project Timmy Takes a Bath.

Name Katie Falk
From Cambridge, MA
Major Film/Animation/Video

Katie “I worked with Chantal, my classmate in FAV. We each made a character (mine was a little boy in a bathtub) and worked together to create the set. The theme was my grandma is cooler than yours.”

Michael (left) and Shawn (right) on their way to a RISD Balls basketball game.

Name Michael Zhang
From San Jose, CA
Major Industrial Design

Name Shawn Guo
From Vancouver, Canada
Major Graphic Design

Shawn “I've been on the team for three years now and am planning on playing next year too. I've made some really good friends. We bring our on-court chemistry to our lives outside studio and organize team-bonding dinners, parties and activities.”

Nina in her current apartment at Charles Landing. Upperclass students are able to choose from a number of residences on campus.

Name Nina Ripich
From Fairview Park, OH
Major Painting

NinaCharles Landing is only a 15-minute walk to campus (12, if I'm in a hurry). It was really great moving in sophomore year, because they allow pets. I was able to bring my cat, Olive, and make the space my own.”

Dennis works on a project in the Industrial Design woodshop.

Dennis “We could only rely on bent wood lamination and wood glue—no nails or screws—to make a structure capable of supporting a plant 15 inches off the ground. The worst (or maybe the best?) part of the assignment was that we had just a week to finish it.”

Yasemin speaks at a student demonstration in Market Square.

Yasemin “Sometimes you feel lonely—not because you don't have friends around, but because of something that has to do with your story. At the rally, people shared all sorts of thoughts and experiences in public without the influence of any hierarchy or power structure. It was freezing out, but I felt so warm inside.”

A self-published zine by Henry and his friends.

Henry “My good friend Connor has a Risograph printer so we curated and printed an anthology of student comics to give out around campus. I want to grow the do-it-yourself print culture at RISD and encourage people to make their own low-cost zines.”

Zoë, Mei and Kathryn outside of class

Zoë “I enjoy working alongside classmates with similar interests in my major, but it's exciting to see what friends from Section 16 are up to now. They encourage me to keep an open mind and find inspiration in other disciplines.”

Current Textiles major Kathryn (bottom left) listens as Senior Critic Susan Sklarek introduces new weave structures prior to a midterm critique.

Kathryn “The first large-scale thing I made was for my midterm project: a 7’x4’ tapestry that emulated a soft, maplike world. I wanted to refer to childhood, tactility and fantasy.”

Mei in front of her window display at the 2nd Life store.

Name Mei Lenehan
From San Francisco, CA
Major Graphic Design

Mei “2nd Life is RISD’s upcycling art supply store in downtown Providence. Around the holiday season, someone donated a lot of vintage ephemera from their grandmother's estate, which led to our ’Tis the Season display.”

Na presents a shoe design project in the RISD Library’s Visual + Material Resource Center.

Name Pornmanie “Na” Snidvongs
From Bangkok, Thailand
Major Graphic Design

Na “I traveled with a Wintersession group to Italy. We visited Turin, Bologna, Florence and San Miniato and spent the final week making leather shoes by hand. Mine were inspired by prosciutto and pineapple—the best meal I had during the trip.”

Na’s sketchbook from her Wintersession shoe design course in Italy.

Na “On the trip I used a sketchbook to document what inspired me—my favorite objects and scenes— and some of those drawings led to my final shoe design. The scenery in San Miniato, a very small town in Tuscany, was fantastic. I was very drawn to the patterns and textures I found inside Santa Chiara, where we stayed.”

Kathryn and Felix volunteer during RISD Weekend, an annual gathering of alumni, parents and families.

Kathryn “Felix and I both worked open studios. I was in the dye lab doing demos and showing examples. During our break we went to the alumni sale and got to meet the amazing RISD alum Lindsay Degen.”

Vaughan in an Apparel Design critique. Since choosing his major, he has curated a sneaker-focused pop-up shop at the RISD Museum.

Vaughan “I’ve learned to take time to consider the texture of the garment...find the feel, find the reasoning, analyze the material. You’ve got to pay attention to what your classmates and teachers are saying, but trust yourself too.”