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Edna’s Nature Lab

Fri, Apr 6, 2018 @ 5 pm7 pm

RISD’s Nature Lab and the vision of founder Edna W. Lawrence

Celebrating 80 years, the RISD Nature Lab continues to fulfill the mission of founder Edna W. Lawrence to “open students eyes to the marvels of beauty in nature.” Although tools and technology have changed, her teachings and vision are still at the core of many science, design and fine arts practices. Three panelists will discuss the value and relevance of Edna’s vision from their distinct disciplines: the role of color and pattern in nature from entomologist David Wagner; the value of having a natural history collection in an art school from Betsy Ruppa, the manager of Edna’s collection today; and recollections from Alba Corrado, one of Edna’s students who later joined the RISD faculty and teaches Edna’s pedagogy of learning from nature.

This Salon is the opening of the Observing Nature: Edna Lawrence & Cabinets of Curiosities exhibit in the Philbrick Rare Book Room.

Registration is required.


David Wagner is an entomologist and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and is the co-director of the Center for Conservation and Biodiversity at the University of Connecticut. His research interests are in the biosystematics of moths, invertebrate conservation and caterpillar identification, and his work has been published nationally. He serves as an advisor for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Betsy Ruppa is the Lab Coordinator of the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab at the Rhode Island School of Design. Ruppa holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing and an MFA in Printmaking, and her specific interests include human anatomy for artists, conchology, and entomology.

Alba Corrado is a designer and artist. She received her BFA in Painting and an MFA in Sculpture from RISD, where she has taught for the past 30 years. As a teacher in RISD’s Experimental and Foundation Studies, she is committed to sharing her knowledge and experience of core 3D design issues and the creative process.