Case Randall ’06 (Sculpture)
Case Randall is an artist in every sense of the word. Her aversion to conformity has taken her down the road less traveled and provided her with some exciting, and certainly unique, life experiences. A Massachusetts native, Case’s artistic drive has taken her all over the world. She has been heavily involved with Handshouse Studio’s Gwozdziec Synagogue reconstruction project in Poland, which aims to rebuild an exquisite 17th-century wooden synagogue that was destroyed during the Nazi reign. Since graduating from MassArt, Case has been involved with a multitude of projects and has worked as a bench jeweler; food stylist; art shipper & handler; artist's assistant; gallery assistant; teaching assistant and landscaper. She currently lives in Cambridge with her boyfriend, dog, and cat and maintains a studio in Somerville.
1. What made you decide to choose to go to MassArt?
MassArt was the fourth college I attended. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the idea of going to art school. My whole life, everyone said I should go to art school. I have a history of not doing what I'm told. I think I needed to prove to myself that I was going to art school, not because I couldn't hack it at regular school, but because it really was the right place for me. I did enjoy the liberal arts curriculum at the other colleges but none of the art departments had much to offer compared to MassArt.
2. Besides technical skills, what was the most important thing you learned while attending MassArt?
The importance of being part of a community of artists. It's hard to get the same level of emotional and intellectual support from people who follow a more "normal" life path. I do have friends and family who are business people or office workers and I can tell my life choices are somewhat perplexing to them.
3. Can you talk a little about your involvement with the Handshouse program in Poland. How/why did you get involved? What was the experience like? What did you learn from the experience?
I started working with Rick and Laura on the Gwozdziec Project in it's earliest stages in 2003, my first year at MassArt. They asked me to assistant teach a winter session course at Oberlin College and a unit at Ipswich High School. I stayed somewhat involved with the project even after I graduated. They had always talked about one day doing a reconstruction in Poland, and finally all the right pieces fell into place. It was an easy decision when they asked me to be part of the painting/teaching team.
The best word to sum up the experience so far is intense. We are under contract to finish the project over the course of two summers in Poland. We have groups of Polish and American students coming every two weeks while we are there, some of whom have no experience painting. Luckily, Rick and Laura put together an amazing team and we are accomplishing the impossible.
4. Did you like working in such a collaborative setting? What is your normal work style?
I usually enjoy the company of others, but by and large I consider myself a lone wolf. However, working on such an incredible project with such exceptional people has been a great pleasure and an honor.
And I do enjoy teaching.
5. What are you working on now? What has inspired you lately?
I'm actually working on a performance/video piece right now. It's in the early planning stages and it's definitely outside my comfort zone, so I don't yet know if it will see the light of day. And I've got a few mixed media sculptures in progress. I'm playing around with different textures and materials. I'm drawing inspiration from my relationship to different household objects and foods. It's like the art version of "write what you know". I've been doing a lot of cleaning and cooking since I've come home.
6. You're very involved with the MassArt Alumni Association can you speak to why you decided to stay so connected and what benefit it has provided for you?
MassArt is a very special place for students and it was hard for me to adjust after graduation. I still came back to the school regularly to assistant teach and visit my professors but I wanted to do what I could to maintain/support a strong alumni community.
7. To what do you attribute your success?
That's a loaded question!
I guess being willing to forgo the usual things people are striving for in their twenties -money, marriage, babies- has made it easier to remain uncompromising in pursuing my artistic goals.
8. Future plans?
Going back to Poland next summer. And applying to grad school for sculpture.
Robin Chalfin '96 (Fashion Design)
1996 MassArt fashion alumna, Robin Chalfin, has made a living making people look good. From costume design to custom tailoring, Robin has worked for a variety of clients since her days at MassArt. Over the years her pieces have been seen dancing on stage with the Boston Ballet, walking down the streets of Boston, and illuminated on the big screen.
Robin’s, first job out of college was working as a temp for the Boston Ballet. She quickly made her way from ‘stitch room’ to ‘first hand’, honing her sewing skills and learning all she could from veteran designers. Because of Boston Ballet’s active performance seasons, Robin learned quickly how to create designs that are both functional and beautiful. Budgetary and general space restrictions meant costumes were often recycled and Robin became at expert tailor in no time.
After nine years of creating show-stopping costumes , Robin took what she had learned at the Ballet and ventured out on her own, starting a tailoring and custom design business. Toolkit - is in essence a mobile tailoring/custom design operation; Robin makes ‘house calls’ allowing clients to stay in the convenience of their own homes while she tucks, folds, tears, and stitches. Business is thriving and Toolkit received a 2011 Best of Boston award in tailoring.
The accessibility of Robin’s work style has allowed her career to take a very exciting path and she is often hired to work as a tailor at concerts and on movies sets. She is a member of many artist’s and entertainment unions and has worked with a multitude of celebrity clients including; the Rolling Stones, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Michelle Williams, Adam Sandler, and Selma Heyak.
Robin credits much of her success to her education both formally at MassArt and informally as a young apprentice at Boston Ballet. She can currently be found sharing her wealth of knowledge with the MassArt community as the studio manager in the Fashion Department. Robin is a shining example of innovative spirit and fearless attitude which personify the MassArt alumni community.