For more than 20 years, RISD's library and archives have sponsored the recording of oral histories, through video, under the RISD Oral Archives Project. The project was designed to record, through interviews, the personal stories and reflections of RISD colleagues (faculty, administrators, trustees, and alumni) in order to augment RISD’s historical record.
Past interview subjects include: Yvonne Andersen (FAV), Deborah Bright (Photography, THAD), Linda Bowab, (Apparel), Harry Callahan (Photography), Jay Coogan (Provost, Dean, Sculpture), Alba Corrado (EFS), Gil Franklin (Sculpture), Tage Frid (Furniture), Malcolm Grear (Graphic Design), Sydney “Bud” Greenwald (Trustee), Robert Hamilton (Painting), Marc Harrison (ID), Holly Hughes (Painting), Baruch Kirschenbaum (THAD), Warren Luther (Architecture), Virginia Lynch (Trustee), Roger Mandle (President), Margaret McGavin (Landscape Architecture), Jack Prip (Jewelry and Metals), Merlin Szosz (EFS), and Wil Yoder, (Architecture). We have also filmed a documentary on the European Honors Program in Rome (2006), featuring students, faculty (Jan Baker, Ezio Genovese), and EHP alumni in Providence (Ronald Binks, Bunny Harvey, David Macaulay, Stuart Murphy).
A first sampling of these interviews can be found here, and we look forward to adding more oral histories soon.
As we continue conducting oral histories, we are interested in extending our documentation to include staff, current students, visiting artists, and more alumni, with the goal of expanding the spectrum of RISD voices and documenting relevant and critical issues of the current moment, including equity and inclusion, health and wellness, sustainability, as well as RISD and the teaching and meaning of art and design. A great example of what we aspire to can be found at the Smithsonian’s Archives American Art Pandemic Oral History Project site. See the May 28, 2020 edition of the Fleet Library See Also Newsletter or visit RISD Archives’ COVID-19 documentation project to learn more.
Rosanne Somerson, Andrew Martinez, RISD Archives, and Josephine Sittenfeld
An oral history with former RISD President Rosanne Somerson. Along with John R. Frazier, President emerita Somerson is one of only two RISD alums to ascend from student to faculty to the presidency. Interviewed by RISD Archivist Andrew Martinez. Produced by Josephine Sittenfeld and Andrew Martinez.
Roger Mandle, Ann Hudner, RISD Archives, Josh Backer, and Jack Lenk
Part I of a two part interview with RISD President Roger Mandle (1993-2008) filmed April 1st, 2008. Interviewed by Anne Hudner. Produced by Andrew Martinez. Videography: Josh Backer and Jack Lenk.
Roger Mandle, Ann Hudner, RISD Archives, Josh Backer, and Jack Lenk
Part II of a two part interview with RISD President Roger Mandle (1993-2008) filmed April 1st, 2008. Interviewed by Anne Hudner. Produced by Andrew Martinez. Videography: Josh Backer and Jack Lenk.
Baruch D. Kirschenbaum, Andrew Martinez, Al Chin, and RISD Archives
Barry Kirschenbaum taught art history at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1962-2001, including terms as head of the Art History Dept. and Chair/Dean of the Liberal Arts Division. In this tape, he is interviewed by Andrew Martinez, Archivist at the Rhode Island School of Design. The interview took place February 2, 2006. Video photography, Al Chin.
Sidney F. (Bud) Greenwald, Louis A. Fazzano, RISD Archives, and Frank Muhly
In this film for the Oral Archives Project, former Rhode Island School of Design trustee, Sidney F. (Bud) Greenwald (1921-2016) is interviewed by Louis A. Fazzano (1921-2019). The interview took place at 132 Bowen St., April 18, 2000. Mr. Fazzano was a trustee at RISD beginning in 1977, was made an honorary trustee in 1998, and also served as interim President of the school 1992-93. Mr. Greenwald was on the Board of Trustees starting in 1973, serving as Chairman 1985-89 and 1992-95. In 1994 he received the President's Medal for Outstanding Service; in 1995, the Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award; and was an Honorary Degree recipient at the 2000 commencement. In this interview, he reminisces about the history of RISD during his tenure. Directed by Frank Muhly.
Virgina Lynch, Ann Hudner, RISD Archives, and Frank Muhly
In this film for the Oral Archives Project, Virginia Lynch (1915-2007), former owner of Virginia Lynch Gallery in Tiverton, R.I., was interviewed by Ann Hudner, Director of Public Relations at RISD 1994-2007. The interview took place April 18, 2000. Virginia Lynch had a long relationship with RISD, as a trustee from 1978-1987, re-appointed 1988-1998, and she held the position of honorary trustee. Over the years she exhibited the work of numerous Rhode Island artists, including RISD faculty and alumni. Directed by Frank Muhly.
Malcom Grear, David Strout, RISD Archives, and Frank Muhly
In this film for the Oral Archives Project, Professor Emeritus, Malcolm Grear (1931-2016) is interviewed by David Strout, a 1947 alumnus of the Painting Department, who held positions as Special Assistant to the President, Vice President, and Dean of the College, 1958-1963. Professor Grear, who taught at RISD in the Graphic Design Department 1960-1995, discusses his training and professional career development, including his years at RISD. Directed by Frank Muhly.
Warren Luther, Neil Severance, RISD Archives, and Frank Muhly
In this film for the Oral Archives Project, Professor Emeritus, Warren Luther is interviewed by Neil Severance, Vice President of Student Affairs, 1979-2000. Professor Luther, who graduated from RISD in 1948 with degrees in Industrial Arts Education, and Architecture, taught in the departments of Architecture and Foundation Studies from 1950-1990. Here he discusses his training and professional career development, including his years at RISD. Directed by Frank Muhly.
Margaret J. McAvin, Michael Veracka, RISD Archives, and Frank Muhly
In this film for the Oral Archives Project, Professor Margaret McAvin (1946-1999) is interviewed by Michael Veracka, a 1993 alum of the Landscape Architecture Department. Professor McAvin, who taught at RISD 1981-1999, discusses her training, and professional career development, including her years at RISD. Directed by Frank Muhly.
Linda Bowab, Lorraine Howes, RISD Archives, and Frank Muhly
Interview with the late Apparel Design Professor Emerita Linda Bowab (1913-2010), July 11, 1997. Interviewed by Apparel Design Professor Emerita Lorraine Howes. Directed by Frank Muhly.
Marc Harrison, David Kessler, RISD Archives, and Frank Muhly
In this film for the Oral Archives Project, Professor Marc Harrison (1936-1998) is interviewed by alumnus David Kessler, who received his Masters in Industrial Design in 1982. Professor Harrison, who taught in the Industrial Design Department, 1959-1998, discusses his training and professional career development, including his years at RISD. Directed by Frank Muhly.