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Depth of Focus

Rocio Delaloye | MFA 16 Digital + Media

As the RISD Museum’s first digital media fellow, Argentinian alumna Rocio Delaloye MFA 16 DM is using video to share the work of her colleagues with the larger world and encourage on-site visitors to engage with the exhibitions on view. She was an integral member of the team that won a Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) 2018 Global Design Award in June for Out of Line, a series of events presented in conjunction with the traveling exhibition Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now from the British Museum (October 2017–January 2018).

“Daily prompts, demonstrations, collaborations and other creative experiments offered in Out of Line enabled practiced artists and first-time visitors opportunities to use drawing as a tool to imagine, discover and explore,” explains Sarah Ganz Blythe, the museum’s deputy director of exhibitions, education and programs.

Delaloye’s primary role on the team was producing engaging, colorful, bilingual videos demonstrating the various drawing techniques presented in the exhibition. “I collaborated with the museum’s graphic designers to select a color palette and also incorporated the typeface they used for print pieces and labels—MAD—into the videos to make everything feel cohesive,” she says.

The centerpiece of the project was a modern cabinet of curiosities that defined the space and housed specimens from RISD’s Nature Lab that visitors could carry back to their tables and draw. SEGD jurors called the project “an unexpected way to bridge art and natural history” and “simple, elegant and very thoughtful design at its best.”

The museum’s award-winning Out of Line project featured a contemporary cabinet of curiosities full of specimens from the Nature Lab for people to draw.

Delaloye says she’s “grateful for the opportunity to grow and experiment” as a museum fellow. She had initially worked as a grad assistant at the RISD Museum four years ago while earning her MFA in Digital + Media. At the start, she recalls, she encountered resistance to the idea of introducing digital content, but soon curators and educators were hearing her out and even approaching her with their own ideas for incorporating video.

A recent video Delaloye produced with Digital + Media faculty member Stephen Cooke has been used in multiple ways by the museum’s marketing team and is currently appearing on PBS Television. “We attached a camera to a drone and flew it from Market Square to the Chace Center entrance of the museum to capture the feeling of the space,” she says, noting that when she was “searching for content about the museum” as she was working on her RISD application in Argentina she found little that was helpful.

“We attached a camera to a drone and flew it from Market Square to the... entrance of the museum to capture the feeling of the space.”

But Delaloye had no doubt that RISD was the school for her. She thought about applying to the graduate program in Graphic Design—the medium she studied as an undergraduate in Argentina—but decided instead to focus on digital media. She originally envisioned herself working on a commercial platform like Facebook or Google after graduating but had a change of heart during her first semester at RISD.

“That first year was confusing,” she recalls. “They push you to explore and experiment as much as you can. I took an amazing class on the history of video called From Avant-Garde to Youtube that opened me up to everything.”

Delaloye’s thesis project, The Left Hand of Darkness, reflected on the transitional nature of identity.

Delaloye pushed through this period of “creative crisis” with the support she received from faculty and remembers feeling particularly connected to Venezuelan faculty member Rafael Attias 91 GD, who signed on as her thesis advisor. Her final project, The Left Hand of Darkness, reflected on the transitional nature of identity and our double-edged entanglement with technology and social media.

“In Argentina I’m not considered a minority, but here I’m labeled a person of color.”

Now that her fellowship is coming to an end, Delaloye is planning to move to New York City and augment her commercial video work by focusing on her artistic practice. She’s been thinking a lot about American culture and her personal take on the immigrant experience.

“People in this country want to put a label on everything,” Delaloye says. “In Argentina I’m not considered a minority, but here I’m labeled a person of color.” In other words, living in the US gives her an entirely different perspective on identity, she explains, even if it’s strange to no longer be seen as who she always thought she was.

Delaloye hopes to make work exploring these concepts and to eventually find a studio space where she can keep creating her own art while also taking on commercial projects. And despite the changing laws and perceptions of immigrants in the US, she has no plans to return to Argentina any time soon. “I worked really hard to get here,” she says, “and I intend to stay in America.”

Simone Solondz