Artist in Residence Ken Horii Leads ‘Form and Function’ Visual Arts Project at St. Margaret’s

Sharing his immense expertise in a workshop-based residency, artist and designer Ken Takashi Horii from the Rhode Island School of Design visited St. Margaret’s as artist-in-residence and led a week full of projects, lectures and insight.
 
Mr. Horii teaches spatial dynamics in the Division of Foundation Studies at RISD, one of the top art and design schools in the world. His expertise on form and function in art and design inspired a week-long project for St. Margaret’s Middle School and Upper School art students, who applied their creativity and engineering ideas to create functional art out of a single 48-inch-by-48-inch sheet of cardboard—a project he frequently does with RISD students.

At the end of the week, the students reflected on their creations in a lively discussion led by Mr. Horii.

“Mr. Horii stands out because he is in the foundations program at an exceptional art school in RISD, and he teaches skills that we feel are important to impart to all art students no matter their path, including visual-spatial abilities, reflection, self-criticism and willingness to experiment,” St. Margaret’s visual arts department chair Jesse Standlea said. “It was our hope to engage the whole visual arts department in a hands-on project that drew from Mr. Horii’s expertise, piqued student interest and led to lively discussion of concepts and creations that ultimately will inspire students going forward.”

For grade 7 and grade 8 artists, students created a tower structure that considered height, efficient use of material and visual form and strived to strike a balance between all three. Upper School photography students produced a photographic composition using a form fabricated out of cardboard, while Upper School 3D and 2D art classes could pursue either a “visually compelling” form or a “structurally strong” form, which led to a discussion on different strategies that developed from those two choices.

In these projects, Mr. Horii emphasized the creative process and design process, telling students to “pay attention to what is emerging.”

In addition, Mr. Horii’s week-long residency touched other areas of St. Margaret’s academic program. He met with Lower School faculty to share insights from RISD’s renowned Nature Lab and connections for the St. Margaret’s Lower School Outdoor Classroom. He talked to grade 4 students in their STEAM block about biomimicry and finding design inspiration from nature, and did a nature walk with grade 6 to find inspiring objects from nature to draw. He led a lecture with AP European history and AP art history classes on the form-versus-function design binary through the centuries. And he worked closely with St. Margaret’s visual arts faculty, sharing his expertise and offering input on curricula and AP portfolio requirements.

Mr. Horii’s sculptures, paintings and works are in private and corporate collections nationally and internationally, and he also is a product designer. He was connected to St. Margaret’s by alumna Shelby Nicholas ‘16, a current RISD student.
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