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RI Coastal Resources Management Council

...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

CRMC prepares RISD summer program for “Going with the Flow”

Students from the RISD Continuing Education Department Young Artists Program

Students from the RISD Continuing Education Department Young Artists Program, with their teachers Patricia Huntington, left, and Donald Chabot, far right, with CRMC's Janet Freedman in the rear center.

July 25, 2017, BARRINGTON – Students enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design’s summer camp program at Tillinghast Farm in Barrington are preparing for life underwater, and Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council’s (CRMC) Janet Freedman, a coastal geologist, gave them pointers on the realities of sea level rise in Rhode Island in 2050 and beyond, something their generation will likely live to see.

Kids from all over Rhode Island, ages six through 12, walked along the beach collecting shells and wading through the water while Freedman talked to them about rising seas, the impacts on salt marshes like the one at RISD Beach, and potential innovations to adapt, on July 11 for the program called, “Go with the Flow.”

The RISD Continuing Education Department has several classes in the Young Artists Program, including this one, and there are classes held at the farm throughout the year - during winter, spring and summer vacations, as well as weekends. A catalog of courses can be found here: https://ce.risd.edu/. Camps are also held on the RISD campus in Providence. Week-long classes are based on a specific theme, and course instructors plan a variety of artistic experiences, 2D and 3D, around that theme, according to instructor Patricia Huntington, who also happens to be Freedman’s sister.

Students get settled after eating lunch outdoors

Students get settled after eating lunch outdoors, ready for Freedman to teach them about sea level rise in Barrington, while instructor Huntington looks on.

“The summer classes always include some kind of sketchbook design, and we also plan for drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and mixed media,” Huntington said. “In the ‘Go with the Flow’ class, for example, we asked students to design an underwater living environment, a 3D model of their perfect home under the Bay, a relief print based on natural objects found at the beach, and a 3D figure wearing fashions adapted to underwater living.”

Other classes, she said, have used storytelling and illustration, landscape design, fantasy architecture, exploration of a single art concept (such as a circle), and travels to other cultures. Huntington and her colleague Donald Chabot have been teaching the RISD summer classes for 20 years, but the Young Artists Program has been running for longer. The two instructors employ a “STEAM” approach to course design: science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

Freedman shows the students what 7 feet of sea level rise would look like

Freedman shows the students what 7 feet of sea level rise would look like at Tillinghast Farm with a map taken from the CRMC's STORMTOOLS mapper.

Most of the students Huntington and Chabot have seen over the years have some connection to RISD or Barrington, and frequently there are groups of kids who come together. They’ve also had students visiting from China, Germany, France and other areas outside of Rhode Island.

“We are happy to say, too, that we have many students who come back each year,” Huntington said.

This isn’t the first time Freedman has been the guest of honor at the summer camp at Tillinghast. Huntington has called on her sister’s expertise a few times when the week’s focus is on a science theme, and this session, Freedman provided insight into changing Barrington coastlines. And with a beach, salt marsh and picturesque setting for the classroom, learning seems to come naturally.

“We always enjoy using the natural setting as an inspiration for activities,” Huntington said. “We love the opportunity to teach motivated students, and to design lessons around a theme of our choice. The diverse teachers all have a say in designing the classes, and we all bring our own talents and expertise to the planning process. It is a wonderfully creative environment, and we are amazed at how creative and collaborative children can be in a stimulating setting.”

Painting by John Russell Bartlett

Art by Zazie Patch

Art by Camden Michaud

Painting by John Russell Bartlett

Art by Cole Paradis

Art by Benjamin Owen

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