Chatting with My (Artist) Friends / by Jennifer Rappaport

This summer was a time when I reconnected with many of my college friends from the Rhode Island School of Design. Three years ago, I graduated with my Bachelors of Fine Arts and moved to New York City, although most of my friends moved far away. It was great to catch up, reconnect and hear of the accomplishments and struggles of my very talented, passionate, creative friends!

 

Maggie Thompson owner of Makwa Studio in Minnesota. 

Maggie Thompson owner of Makwa Studio in Minnesota. 

Maggie Thompson 

Textile Designer, St. Paul, MN, Makwa Studio

My closest friend through college, Maggie, is a positive and vibrant person. The artwork she makes is inspired by her love of the outdoors, family, and her Native American Ojibwe heratige. During her visit to NYC this summer we talked a lot about post-graduation life as a creative person, and the struggles that come with starting your own business. Maggie has launched a textile business called Makwa Studio. As a young entrepreneur, who studied textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design, Maggie has been successful at setting up a great website, participating in art fairs, holding open studio events and collaborating with local makers. Makwa Studio designs and creates soft, beautiful, woven, sewn, and knitted items such as scarfs, hats, and blankets.  Maggie's fine art textiles are dynamic and thought provoking.  Her work is rooted in her heritage as a Native American, and her art work has been exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It was wonderful to spend three days with my friend Maggie who brings an energy and lightness to everything she does and everyone she meets! 

As I am starting the design of my own art business it was very insightful to talk with her about the pros and cons of certain business software, the abilities of specific website platforms, and the process of state business licensing. 


Topher on the Red Hook Ferry in New York City.

Topher on the Red Hook Ferry in New York City.

Topher Gent 

Furniture Designer, Providence, RI, Gent Design Company

In need of a table for my apartment, it was obvious to me where to search - Gent Design Company - started by my long time friend Topher Gent. A native Rhode Islander, Topher has always been a strong person with great self discipline, qualities that come across in his work. I reached out to him several months ago about a coffee table commission and the entire process, from sending me designs, to paying my invoice, was efficient and well thought out. When he delivered the table a few weeks ago I was blown away by the final product. The welded steel design is angular and intriguing. Although it is steel, there is a natural feeling to the piece that is not harsh or imposing. The matte white finish is understated and elegant. This table is a reminder of my wonderful friendship with Topher.

Images (above) of Topher delivering and placing the commissioned table in my New York City apartment. It looks great!


Diandre enjoying Washington Square Park.

Diandre enjoying Washington Square Park.

Diande Fuentes 

Textile Designer, Los Angeles, CA www.diandre-fuentes.com

My visit with Diandre was short but sweet. It's always a great time when my good friend from the West Coast comes to visit the East Coast -- her visit this summer was for business.  In college, Diandre's nick name was Mamma D. When I heard about her job as a surface textile designer for children's wear, I knew it was a perfect fit for her. It was insightful and exciting to hear about the corporate creative setting where she works. Diandre produces art work that is culturally aware, always in a playful and intelligent manner. Kudos to Mamma D who has found a creative position with a major clothier that values her integrity and fabulousness! 


Max Spitzer's fiberglass lamp in my apartment. 

Max Spitzer's fiberglass lamp in my apartment. 

Max Spitzer

Sculptor and Educator, Hudson, NY www.cargocollective.com/maxspitzer

Max and I first met during our freshman (foundation) year at RISD and became fast friends. In college, he pursued sculpture and I focused on illustration. Last fall, I took the train from New York City to visit Max at his studio in Hudson, New York. His studio and art work are inspiring. He creates spaces and sculptures using fiberglass that he can then paint and seal. This method enables him to create unique shapes that are hard, glossy and eye-poping. During my visit, he promised to make me a lamp for my new apartment, and this summer he personally delivered it. Using a similar method and materials as the sculptures I saw on my visit to his studio, he made a solid shaft form using fiber glass that serves as the base and neck of the lamp. This original design allows me to place the lamp in many convenient places ( i.e. leaning against a shelf, stuffed in a pot, mounted on the wall). The color of the synthetic material is preserved by the hard glossy coating that delightfully contrasts with the allusion of an organic form that undulates with sculpted knots. This is by far the coolest lamp I've ever owned, and an object I will keep forever!