The Rhode Island School of Design European Honors Program (EHP) celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with two lectures co-presented with the American Academy in Rome on November 23 and 24, featuring writer David Macaulay and artist Anna Schuleit.
The EHP was established by RISD faculty members Gilbert Franklin (FAAR ’49) and Jack Massey (FAAR ’61), who wished to make available to undergraduate students the unique cultural and creative experience provided by the Rome Prize fellowships. Since the inception of the program, any number of EHP faculty and students have also been Rome Prize Fellows, and FAARs have been regular visitors at the RISD program in the Palazzo Cenci to participate in student reviews, lectures, or shows.
Representing the RISD EHP were Director Ezio Genovesi, Professor Colgate Searle, and former EHP Chief Critic and Director David Frazer, who also delivered a lecture at the Palazzo Cenci as part of the celebration.
On Tuesday, November 23, a capacity crowd filled the Lecture Room at the AAR as EHP alumnus David Macaulay (author of Cathedral, The Way Things Work, The New Way Things Work, Rome Antics, The Way We Work, Mosque) provided a ninety-minute visual tour (“Building Books”) through his extraordinary oeuvre, in which the architecture of a Gothic cathedral and the architecture of the human brain and body are explored with a similar imaginative humor and daring.
Macaulay spoke with disarming honesty of the imperfection of his early work (sunlight pouring in through the north windows of a cathedral, for instance) and the stops, starts and detours in his own creative process.
On Wednesday, November 24, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and EHP alumnus Anna Schuleit provided a fascinating account (“Paints, Rumors, and Contemporary Media”) of her own creative journeys away from her origins as a painter–and her regular return to painting.
These journeys away have included her 2000 installation Habeas Corpus at the abandoned Northampton State Hospital (including sound projection from Bach’s Magnificat) and her 2003 installation of flowers entitled Bloom at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.
Ms. Schuleit discussed other installations, both completed (a large painting commission for the University Gallery at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and uncompleted (a large mirror offshore one of the Boston Harbor Islands).
Schuleit spoke with passion of her commitment to painting, and her conviction that painting in the 21st century must keep up with other art forms.