Being Sophomoric? Move over Peter Max…

by Alden Cole on March 31, 2014 · 0 comments

ScrapBookICWPinside front cover and first page from sketchbook, 11″ x 17″ • collection of the artist

After spending the summer of ’63 back in Maine, I returned to Providence in September to continue my education at RISD as a Sophomore. The curriculum included an interesting second-year design course, much different from Freshman Foundation’s 2-D course. Three artist-teachers — Norman Laliberte, Richard Kehl, and Bob Jungels — taught the classes in tandem; a new experiment in redefining the 2-D experience, moving beyond the parameters learned freshman year of being assigned a particular project on a stated theme, the fulfillment of that assignment, then the infamous crit-sessions that left most of us wondering how we even got into RISD in the first place, let alone asking ourselves if we really had enough talent to survive the competition in the future marketplace — a humbling but necessary experience that winnowed out the less committed artist-wannabes. Instead, the focus shifted to the creative process as expressed so eloquently by the En Recherche du Temps Perdu guy, Marcel Proust himself: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” To effect this educative process we were assigned the maintenance of three notebooks throughout the year: a sketchbook in which we were encouraged to draw, draw, draw what we saw, inside or outside, seen either in our mind or out of our mind (so to speak); a writing journal to include inspiring quotes, as well as our own reflections and evolving ideas about life and creativity; plus a scrapbook of visual media that caught our attention, inspiring us, either photographs or reproductions of other art, clippings from periodicals, whatever caught our eye. It was the beginning of a fascination with scrapbooks aka Memory Books that continues to this day. I chose to combine all three requirements into one volume, although I skimped on the sketching, and the writings didn’t get beyond the quote stage, leaving the personal reflections for the future, aka ‘now’. Despite it all, I managed to garner a B- for the course, which still surprises me considering how vague are my memories of the class itself, or how little actual art I have to show for the time spent. Apparently my focus was elsewhere, as shall be seen in a couple days…

Astute eyes with a sense of the time period will note there are two decals from the Beatles Sgt. Pepper, an album that wasn’t released until June of 1967, three years after the period described. Those decals were appliquéd after the fact, as this particular memory book, started in 1963, continued to be reworked until some time after I had moved to NYC in the late 60s.

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