Dorner Prize: Conversation Pieces
The Dorner Prize is an annual juried competition that invites Rhode Island School of Design student artists and designers to create new installations, performances, programs, or digital encounters that engage the public by using the RISD Museum’s spaces, objects, and digital platforms. Dorner Prize projects examine, critique, or respond to the collections, architectural idiosyncrasies, habits of visitation, and/or web presence of the Museum—encouraging further conceptual interpretation and lively discussion.
First established in 1995 as Sitings, the Dorner Prize was renamed in 2016 to honor pioneering art educator Alexander Dorner, the RISD Museum’s director from 1938 to 1941. Dorner Prize winners work closely with museum professionals during each phase of the process and their projects are exhibited in the RISD Museum and online. One or two projects are selected each year for implementation.
This year’s Dorner Prize is awarded to Gabriel Melcher (RISD MFA 2016, Graphic Design) for his online installation Conversation Pieces, on view February 18 to June 5, 2016. Jurors this year are Dominic Molon, the Museum’s Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art, and Kyna Leski, a professor of architecture at RISD.
The Dorner Prize, named for distinguished early-20th-century RISD Museum Director Alexander Dorner, is made possible by a generous anonymous gift
The winning entry for the Dorner Prize 2016, Conversation Pieces risdmuseum.org/conversationpieces, focuses on the textual descriptions of selected artworks in the RISD Museum’s Granoff Modern and Contemporary Galleries. Created by Gabriel Melcher (RISD MFA 2016, Graphic Design), the online installation draws language from object labels, reinterpreting it into new forms. Separated from the works it originally discussed, the recontextualized language takes on new effect, describing otherwise nonexistent objects and highlighting the interpretability of the Museum’s permanent collection.