PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — During Commencement/Reunion Weekend, Brown University will celebrate the achievements of two professors who have taught at Brown for 50 years.
Richard Fishman, professor of visual art, and Andries van Dam, professor of computer science, both joined the faculty in 1965 and continue to teach and remain active members of the Brown community.
To celebrate Fishman’s 50 years, the Brown Creative Arts Council is presenting Richard Fishman: Recent Work in the Granoff Center’s Cohen Gallery. Fishman’s recent work is based on The Elm Tree Project, a long-term program seeking ways to use a felled elm tree for the creation of artworks and other responses inspired by the tree and its story.
In 2003, Brown’s oldest elm tree — “Elmo” — contracted Dutch elm disease and had to be removed. After consultation with colleagues in environmental studies, urban planning, and RISD’s Furniture Department, Fishman developed a program designed to use the elm tree conceptually, physically, and metaphorically as the basis for innovative cross-disciplinary courses and programs. Fishman’s work examines an elm tree’s dismantlement, reassembly, and ultimate destruction through fire. The exhibition runs through June 18. More information is available online.
Fishman has been an interdisciplinary artist who has been exhibiting work across the country since 1962 and has been awarded prestigious Guggenheim and Howard fellowships.
Andy van Dam, the Thomas J. Watson Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education, was awarded the second Ph.D. in the burgeoning field of computer science in 1966. Shortly after joining Brown’s Division of Applied Mathematics in 1965, van Dam worked with colleagues John Savage and Peter Wegner to create Brown’s Department of Computer Science, of which van Dam was the inaugural chair.
Van Dam worked with his students on the earliest hypertext systems, precursors to modern webpages with hyperlinks. He was also a pioneer in the field of computer graphics. He was co-author of the textbook Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice, considered “the Bible” of computer graphics. His research and books are widely recognized to have been influential in creating computer-aided design systems and modern animated films. Having invited him to the premiere of the blockbuster Toy Story, Steve Jobs presented van Dam with a book on the making of the film that included the inscription, “You made it so.”
In place of its normal alumni reunion, the Computer Science Department will present “Celebrate With Andy: 50 Years of CS at Brown” — a historical overview of CS at Brown, three panels of alumni telling personal anecdotes, and remarks from President Christina Paxson and Provost Vicki Colvin. More about van Dam and his history is up on the CS website.