New Home for RIC Art Students: Ribbon Cutting Marks Completion of First Phase of Alex and Ani Hall
From left, Vahram and Lorraine Tashjian, parents of John “Tash” Tashjian ’09; Steven Costantino, secretary of health and human services; President Nancy Carriuolo; Gov. Lincoln Chafee; Giovanni Feroce, CEO of Alex and Ani, LLC; Designer Carolyn Rafaelian, founder and creative director of Alex and Ani, LLC; Eva-Marie Mancuso, chair of the Board of Education; Prof. William Martin, chair of the art department; and Regina and Jack Partridge.
From left, jewelry studio, brick kiln in outdoor ceramics court, ceramics studio, printmaking studio.
Seven Swords Media.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for Alex and Ani Hall at RIC, which marked completion of the first phase of the reconstruction. The festive event was replete with live music by RIC brass players, comments by dignitaries and an extended tour of the facility.
Joining RIC President Nancy Carriuolo on stage was Gov. Lincoln Chafee; Giovanni Feroce, CEO of Alex and Ani, LLC; and Designer Carolyn Rafaelian, founder and creative director of Alex and Ani, LLC. In attendance were faculty, staff, students and friends of the college.
Carriuolo thanked Alex and Ani for “rejuvenating jewelry manufacturing in the state and for helping to rejuvenate the art facilities at RIC.” The $17-million, state-of-the-art building was funded by a bond approved by voters in November 2010 and a $1 million contribution by Alex and Ani, LLC. In his remarks, Feroce said that he considers the gift a good investment.
“Part of the process of building a business in the United States is reinvestment,” he said. “Our company reinvests by creating workforce incubators in institutions of higher education like Rhode Island College.”
Other than RISD, RIC has the only jewelry-making program in the state. For six consecutive years, its jewelry students have won honors at the annual Student Jewelry Design Awards, sponsored by the New England Chapter of the International Precious Metals Institute.
Chafee addressed the “importance of supporting improvements to educational infrastructure, which directly affects learning.” He said, “Anytime we’re investing in education and infrastructure, it’s a good investment.”
RIC’s previous art facility dated back to 1958 and is remembered – though not fondly – by art students Ryan Holmes and Vee Hight (jewelry concentrators), Lawrence Timmins and Evan Korstein (ceramics concentrators), and Christian DeCataldo (sculptor). Their memories ranged from “lack of adequate ventilation,” “sawdust, metal dust and other debris in the air,” “poor lighting,” “lack of adequate equipment,” “general lack of workspace” and “being scattered all over the campus in four or five buildings.”
Carriuolo thanked the art faculty and students for contributing to the design ideas for the building. She said, “I asked our art faculty and students to think about what they would need in an art facility today as well as 10 years in the future.” A total of 98 rooms, sized for different functions, were designed to span two floors. Some of the workspaces are very tall loft-like areas able to accommodate large-scale welding, cutting and lifting equipment.
Reconstruction of Alex and Ani Hall is a two-phase project. Work on phase one of the project began in April 2012, construction of the rear of the building – the manufacturing end – designed for what is called the “dirty arts,” such as jewelrymaking, ceramics, sculpting and printmaking. The second phase of the project is scheduled for completion in March of 2014.