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Three students accepted to RISD

Ian Barsanti ’14 works on an art project.

According to U.S. News, it’s one of the best art schools in the country. Received by only a quarter of applicants last fall, an acceptance from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a coveted prize for students hoping for a career in art.

So far this year, that prize has been claimed by three Staples students: Connor McCann ’14, Rowan MacColl ’14, and Ian Barsanti ’14.

Barsanti found out when he called the admissions office,from a stairwell in the middle of class.

“I was freaking out,” Barsanti said. “I was just running around school trying to find anyone who would care and scream at them and tell them I got in.

But it was a long process leading up to that point.

Staples art teacher Camille Eskell says students start thinking about the application portfolio as early as freshman year.

“It can take two years, three years, but usually the better work is when they get older,” Eskell said.

RISD requires two challenge pieces as part of that portfolio. One is an observation drawing of a bicycle. The other challenge invites students to draw using an instrument of their own design.  For example, McCann created a drawing with a brush pen he invented that draws in different shades of grey depending on how much pressure you use.

Students spend years on their portfolio, but they put even more time into developing their skills.

“I’ve been drawing ever since I was able to hold a crayon,” Rowan MacColl said.

By the time she hit middle school, MacColl had realized how much she loved art and was drawing all the time.

McCann has also been drawing as long as he can remember. In fact, even in elementary school, he was fairly serious about it.

“We used to have to do these New Year’s resolution sheets every year in elementary school,” McCann said. “And every year my resolution was to just get better at drawing.”

McCann thinks RISD will help him with that resolution: the pre-college program the school held was the only time he felt  “challenged and pushed to [his] limits as an artist.”

Eskell noted that people often underestimate just how hard art school is.

“Their professors are not going to let them just sit. They have to prove what they are doing as artists,” Eskell said.

But all that work pays off; according to U.S. News, 96% of RISD alumni have a job within one year of graduating.

As far as career plans go, McCann plans to major in illustration and then start the tough process of trying to work in comics.

He’ll probably “get some crappy job and make comics until I can financially support myself doing the latter,” McCann said.

MacColl is a little less certainin her plans. Though she thinks she wants to major in illustration, right now she said, she is focusing on graduating from RISD.

Barsanti is just excited to go to school with students who love art as much as he does.

“I don’t really have a major in mind right now,” he said. “I’m going in with an open mind.”

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About the Contributor
Megan Root, News Editor
Megan Root ’15, never stops running, whether it is on the soccer field or chasing a story. She began her Inklings career her second half of junior year as a staff writer and has recently transitioned into a position as a news editor. Before Inklings she was an avid reader of the New York Times who loved politics and education. To Root, one of the main attractions of the paper was it gave her the opportunity to discover more about her school and community. “It gives you cover, you are not just a random person asking questions you are a reporter asking questions.” To Root the interview is the key to the story. After every interview she writes down all of the interesting quotes and pieces of information she took away. It is from this information that she tries to find the story. One piece she wrote that she believes best showcases her ability to do this is Genders split over weight-training. Although the story was originally supposed to be about how some teams were getting more time in the weight room than others, she discovered that the boys’ teams just wanted more time in the weight whereas the girls teams did not. Root has some personal experience with sports, as a varsity athlete and senior captain of the girls varsity soccer team at Staples. She says when she was about three years old her older brother, who also played soccer, started to teach her. And she was marked for success right from the start, “My first game...nobody else really knew how to play, so I had this really unfair advantage, and I scored twelve goals my first game.” She continued that success through high school, making the varsity team her freshman year and becoming captain her junior year.  

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