The Chocolate Life

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Multi-Disciplinary Art/Design Curriculum Using Chocolate

Most of you probably do not know that I am a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, one of the nation's most highly respected art and design schools. Over the Columbus Day weekend in mid-October I attended a major reunion and was asked to speak on a panel about "Life After RISD." I guess parents are comforted by the fact that even though their children might not make it in the art field of their major (mine was photography), they can be successful in other areas. Excited by the experience and meeting the new president, I forwarded on the following proposal for a new program at RISD, which I think could be offered in other contexts. So far I have not heard back from them.

Would YOU like to take this class? Can all this be done in six weeks or would it be better as a ten-week summer program? Any other thoughts?


There are surprisingly few departments at RISD where an exploration of chocolate as medium, object, and/or subject is not relevant:

Illustration, Graphic Design, Painting, and Printmaking (surface design, advertising design);
Illustration, Graphic Design, and Industrial Design (packaging);
Industrial Design (moldmaking);
Sculpture, Painting, Illustration (as a medium);
Photography, Film, Animation, Video (as object and subject);
Apparel, Textiles; and Liberal Arts (history, geography, cultural anthropology, foodways, geopolitics, critical writing).

Chocolate as Medium, Object, and Subject for Visual Artists is an inter/multi-disciplinary course in which students explore a broad range of 2- and 3-dimensional design challenges where chocolate is used as a medium of creative expression, the object of design challenges, and the subject of observation and serious literary and artistic critique.

During the course of this program, students will be engaged in individual and team projects in 2-D surface design, three-dimensional design and construction, apparel design, user interface and user experience design, and written criticism, among other topics.

Projects will include the design and production of multi-colored transfers used to decorate chocolate, designing and producing prototypes for chocolate packaging, designing and producing advertising and collateral materials for a fictional chocolate company, the design and production of prototype 3-D molds for chocolate using a number of manufacturing techniques, using chocolate as a painting medium, using chocolate as a sculptural medium, incorporating chocolate in garments, designing machines to process chocolate, designing a web presence for a fictional chocolate company, and examining the modern culture of cacao and chocolate in developed and developing countries.

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August 8, 2009 Update: I met with President Maeda last May in New York at a RISD alumni gathering. I mentioned this proposal and was told he had no memory of receiving it. I resent it to him. Still no word.


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