New Projects at RISD Pre-College


My summers are always hectic; I teach 5 days a week at RISD Pre-College program, a schedule that is far more intense than my schedule during the school year. Even when I have a full load (as a part-timer) at RISD, the maximum I could be on campus would be 3 days a week. The only reason I can keep up in the summers is because the program only last 6 weeks, so I work like a maniac for that period and then collapse in August.


I’m a glutton for punishment, so naturally, I decided to switch up all of my 3 Design Foundations assignments to new projects.  I’ve been teaching the 3D foamboard staircase project for so long that the thought of running it again this year felt tiresome, so instead I elected to do this balsa wood carving project. Doing a new project is always 3x the work a project you’ve done before is.  There are always factors that you cannot prepare yourself for, and you have to be okay with everything not running perfectly smoothly. (and also to admit on several occasions that you messed up)

Sol 1

The second project was for students to create a visual representation of a New York Times mini crossword puzzle, the challenge of which was to take a bunch of random images and get them to work cohesively in the context of an artist’s book. Not an easy assignment to do; there’s the challenge of constructing a lotus or meandering book, the gouache painting technique, and the brainstorming involved to create an image that read fluidly.

Ashley (2)

I was however, so excited about the lotus and meandering fold (which my TA Caffrey Fielding taught me!) that we ended up shooting a tutorial on the book folds. Which of course I just had to edit and produce this summer. It was perfect because Caffrey and I really ended up teaching each other in the tutorial which was a nice balance and contrast against our other courses on which are more about having concretely defined roles where one person is the teacher, and the other is the student.



New projects are hard, and there are about a million things I will do differently if I run this project again next summer. But, there’s also that adrenaline rush of not quite knowing exactly what you’re doing, and the morning of the critique of the finished books is always exhilarating. There’s a surprise factor which just won’t happen with a project you’ve run dozens of times!

IMG_1029.JPG is a free website for learning visual arts which features video tutorials, art critiques, and more.

3 thoughts on “New Projects at RISD Pre-College

  1. You have the POWER to choose. Glad you are busy on your own terms. I was at on time, now I have a better pace. Cheers!!!! Bob Ragland

    Non-Starving Artist NPR/bobragland bobraglandl/

  2. I love your enthusiasm!!! I live it! It inspires me and pushed me to me heights in my art in general and you taught me how to work in charcoal which I always found too difficult and bland. Now it is another story! (I unfortunately had a bad fall, putting me in hospital for more than 2 months and into my third month, not being able to do too much of art.) I was at a great place before the fall and starting soon where I stopped… Thank you Clara! Thank you for being so unselfish in sharing your knowledge!!!

    Blessings on you lovely lady!

    Kind regards Christien (From South Africa)

    Sent from my iPhone


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