v.1 is RISD’s student–led publication. Its form and content change from year to year (it’s always “volume 1”).

Info & Submission Guidelines ︎


Spring 2019

  1. From the Editors
  2. A Room without a View: Reflections on Studio Practice from a Privileged Poor Chantal Feitosa
  3. Between the Battlements Jeremy Wolin

  4. Accessing Color: Dissecting the Harvard Art Museum’s Forbes Pigment Collection Makoto Kumasaka
  5. British Club Tattoos Nasser Alzayani
  6. Making Space: Creativity and Resilience in War-Time Sri Lanka Elizabeth Dean Hermann
  7. How to Become Trans: A Proposal for the Modern-Day Gender-Agnostic Asher White
  8. Making It Up: A Conversation with Kent Kleinman Wen Zhuang
  9. “In Peace”: A Conversation with Matthew Shenoda Mays Albaik
  10. Suburbia_hours.mov Nora Mayer
  11. Negative Spaces Emily Wright
  12. Centerfold: Urgency Lab
  13. Rise Up: The Sunrise Movement Takes Root in Rhode Island Irina V. Wang
  14. After Strand Nafis White and García Sinclair
  15. Soldiers of Love? Karen Schiff
  16. Decoding Ghosts Molly Hastings
  17. An Annotated Bibliography Eli Backer
  18. Jesus, Marilyn, and Britney: Relationships between Religion and Celebrity Culture Nina Yuchi
  19. The Social (Antique) Network: Empathy in the Age of Digital Antiquing Zola Anderson
  20. My Little Episodes Michael Brandes
  21. Seeking Fair Game on Hidden Fields Reilly Blum
  22. The Should Be Here Is Not Here Joss Liao
  23. Index of Agency Sophie Chien
  24. Don’t Eat the Models Barbara Stehle
  25. Hypothetical Drink Personality Test: Who Said What, and When? Eliza Chen
  26. Dear Arabic Mohammed Nassem


Fall 2018 

  1. From the Editors
  2. How to Make a Person: A Recipe Mays Albaik
  3. Providence Votes Marcus Peabody
  4. Encounters with the Codex: Redefining Forms of Publication June Yoon
  5. How to Encounter a Puddle Anny Li
  6. A Brief List of Premises from a Maker Stuck with Paper, Politics, and Performance Yasi Alipour
  7. Art Writing and the Place of the “I” Randy Kennedy
  8. Written in Stone: Lineage, Legacy, and Letterforms Irina V. Wang
  9. The Unbearable Whiteness of Being (a Graphic Designer) Tiger Dingsun
  10. Colliers/Necklaces Théïa Flynn
  11. When One Door Closes: Examining Issues of Space and Student Curation on Campus Wen Zhuang
  12. Addressing the Empty Plinth: Lessons from Gallery Shows and Public Art Jeremy Wolin
  13. Modern Usage: In Conversation with Remeike Forbes Eliza Chen and Tiger Dingsun
  14. Dangling Threads: Remaining Unclear in Capital Everett Epstein
  15. A Vagabond Viking Voyage and Midsummer Daydream Mike Fink
  16. Everything is Interdependent Angela Dufresne
  17. La Bolita Elaine Lopez
  18. Bread Day Olive B. Godlee
  19. Against the Archive Satpreet Kahlon


2017 - 2018 
  1. Birds, Bees, and Beyond: The Nature Lab Evolves
  2. Concrete Mixer Drum Solo
  3. Negative Spaces
  4. “Printer Prosthetics” at NYABF
  5. On Writing: Nader Tehrani and Katie Faulkner
  6. On Writing: Marie Law Adams and Dan Adams
  7. On Writing: Kunlé Adeyemi
  8. Connecting Food and Design
  9. Remixing Architectural Discourse
  10. Genesis : 1: Beret Shit
  11. “No voy a actuar en el mundo antes de entenderlo”: Una conversación con Alfredo Jaar
  12. “I Will Not Act in the World Before Understanding the World”: A Conversation with Alfredo Jaar
  13. Imagining Irmgard
  14. Afterwords: Bite
  15. Afterwords: Portals
  16. Afterwords: Calendar
  17. Seeking Drafts
Mark

“In Peace”: A Conversation with Matthew Shenoda

Mays Albaik (MFA GL 2019)

At some point in Wintersession, I decided I needed more poets in my studio.

It was with that in mind that I first emailed Matthew Shenoda. The inaugural Vice-President of Social Equity and Inclusion (SEI), Matthew is a diaspora poet and a scholar of ethnic studies and creative writing. Before coming to RISD, he was the CalArts Assistant Provost of Equity and Diversity and Columbia College Chicago’s Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Throughout all of this, he still wrote, and he still taught. If anyone was going to break the stream of RISD crit language in my studio, it’d be him. His reply to my invitation opened with “Ahlan wa sahlan, Mays!” His sign off was “In Peace,” and his studio visit did not disappoint.

When I ran into him again late this February, the v.1 team had already been thinking about faculty features, and, trapping him between the lunchtime throngs of students along North Main, I suggested we sit down for a chat. Once we got started, It didn’t take long for us to realize this wasn’t going to be a quick chat. Two hours and many transcribed pages later, it still feels like we just started the conversation.

Since then, Matthew’s position has shifted to Associate Provost of Social Equity and Inclusion, hinting toward a focus on the curriculum and academics. Following are three excerpts from our conversation.

Mays Albaik: Of all your published essays and poems, I’m very drawn to your last poetry collection, Tahrir Suite. Could you talk a little about it?

Matthew Shenoda: Tahrir Suite is a book-length poem about the Egyptian revolution. I was in Egypt, which is where my family’s from, up until a week before the revolution. My family and I left to come back to the US and the revolution happened literally seven days later. So as I was following the revolution, this major moment in contemporary Egyptian history, and seeing this transformation and thinking about my family and the future of the country, I did the only thing I know how to do, which is to write. It was a way for me to process what was going on.

The book follows two fictitious characters who begin in Egypt at the moment of the revolution, and just as the revolution erupts they find out that they have been cleared to immigrate to the United States. This leads to their grappling with this moment in the revolution and then leaving the country and living in the diaspora. It’s self-reflective, it’s also my own struggle and a way for me to move through my own thinking around what was and still is a very complicated moment in Egyptian history. I needed to do this from diaspora since I wasn’t able to be there. Had I been there, I probably wouldn’t have been writing about it. I would’ve just been in the streets. Having that distance allowed me to reflect on what was happening in real time, and think about questions that I’ve been obsessed with my entire life, questions of home, and whether there is such a thing and what that means and how that shifts. The malleability of home and of memory and of identity and how we change in different climates. I think all those strands exist in one way or another in the book.

MA: I often think making work in the diaspora in terms of realms. Diasporic work becomes a bridge between different realms, different diegeses. In Tahrir Suite, because of the epic form and the movement in the poem’s rhythm and narrative, I think of a tether instead of a bridge—the diaspora tether.

MS: I always think of migration as a kind of trail. Which is similar to the tether analogy. It was important to me to write this poem poetically. I didn’t feel like I could honestly engage with the revolution through anything but poetry. Any idea I had that seemed concrete would change within forty-eight hours. Poetry allowed me the ability to live and grow with the idea of change and of revolution and of transformation in a way that felt more honest to me.

[...]

MA: The term commitment, in the sense of committed literature, or littérature engagée in French, comes to mind. Committed literature is something I often think about when I’m looking at diasporic work and literature of resistance. In the late ’60s, Ghassan Kanafani said in an essay on resistance literature from Palestine that Palestinians didn’t have the luxury of debating the merits of commitment in literature. I’m thinking we might be at a similar moment in time.

MS: I would argue that we’ve always been at that moment. But I think that idea of commitment, which I link to responsibility, is a human thing, not an artist thing. And I think that we can be committed in all kinds of ways. I see myself as a cultural worker, and that manifests in different ways—sometimes it’s about institution building, sometimes it’s about teaching, sometimes it's about writing a poem, sometimes it’s about going out into the street and protesting. Even child-rearing is cultural work in its own way. All of these things are really essential pieces of the whole human, which is the thing that I’m most interested in. I am not somebody who creates this incredibly rarified pseudo-magical space for art. I don’t know that I believe art “saves lives.” I can’t save a human being’s life with a poem, and I don’t think that’s a poem’s job. What I can do is shift the perspectives of people through their engagement with poetry, allow them to see the world differently and make different decisions. If poetry has taught me anything it’s that it’s about discovering and rediscovering one’s own humanity, and if poetry ever stopped doing that I would probably stop writing poetry. If it reached a point where it wasn’t doing that for me, where it wasn’t allowing me to cultivate my own sense of humanity, I don’t know that I would engage it. I would go on to something else. Maybe cooking.

[...]

MA: [Vice President of SEI] is a big Job.

MS: Oh, it’s an experiment.

MA: It’s a big experiment, then.

MS: So here’s the thing: I’m a person of color in the United States of America who comes out of a series of colonial interventions throughout my history. I don't inherently trust any institutions, it would be foolish for me to do so, so my interest is less in creating some stagnant notion of an institution that does X, but rather, in a set of human moments that will last as long as they last, knowing that these institutions evolve in different ways, and depend entirely on the human beings who are in them. It would be great to say let's shift RISD forever, but I’m not fixated on that. I think we often get bogged down into wanting to change the course of the institution forever, into creating something that is ultimately stagnant, and it becomes so complicated that we just talk and talk and talk and we don’t do anything in the moment. I’m interested in the moment. I’m interested in creating a set of interventions and human moments that make this place better for the people who are here now. And if the next generation and the generation after that pick up pieces of that or carry it on or completely dismantle it and do something else, so be it. But we have to do something in this moment, and if we begin to think in that way we may relieve ourselves of the anxiety of trying to change an entire structure. So what interventions can we make, what moments can we create for the time being that make this a more equitable and more inclusive space? What if in the course of the next five years we can create a different kind of experience for our students and see what we learn from that, see how we evolve. Maybe it will continue, maybe it will shift, maybe it will all fall apart, but at least we’re doing something and engaging our own humanity in this moment. In that sense I think that being action-oriented is absolutely necessary.

I’ve said this to the leadership here: I’d much rather, if we were to fail, that we fail after being intentional than fail by being passive. We may fail either way but let’s fail through practice, as we do as artists all the time.