3 credits (FURN-1543-01)
Canada: British Columbia
Patricia Johnson (Faculty, RISD Furniture Design)
This course offers students an opportunity to study and explore the traditional knowledge and practices of the Haida in the Pacific Northwest of Canada. The Haida are a Native community particularly rich in creative culture and history. They are especially known for their exceptionally high standards of craftsmanship. Using formline as the primary design element Haida artists work across many media including wood, textiles, precious metals, argillite as well as hand harvested forest materials. Students will spend the first twelve days of the course in Vancouver and in Old Masset, British Columbia, Canada working with curators at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and with Haida artists like Evelyn Vanderhoop, Reg Davidson, Michael Yahgulanaas, Lisa Hageman and April Churchill. The remaining days will be spent in the studios at RISD working on individual projects related to these engagements. Students will be asked to design and make artifacts or objects that represent a new vernacular balancing cultural preservation with forward-looking design thinking. While the course aims to support the creation of high quality artistic work, it is as much about process and dialogue as final outcome. By navigating sensitive territories inherent in Native communities, human dynamics will play a critical role and the results will be shaped by cultural exchange and personal interaction. Through this process students will also gain knowledge about issues central to contemporary indigenous practice like authenticity and appropriation, preservation and innovation, museum collections and repatriation, and, the economic and cultural value of forest ecosystems.
NOTE: Students will travel as a group between Vancouver and Old Masset and costs and scheduling for this are part of the course fee. Travel to Vancouver and then back to Providence will be the responsibility of individual students.
Permission of Instructor required. Open to first year students with approval from the Dean of Experimental and Foundation Studies.
Estimated Travel Cost: $2,200.00 – airfare included (one-way only)