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From the Archives

Shining moment

Caps, gowns, tears, smiles. Some things never change. This photo from the 1980s seems to illustrate so much of what we feel about commencement. But we don't have a record of this young graduate's name, or the precise year. If you can shed any light on this picture, please write to The University Magazine, RIT, 132 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, New York 14623, or send e-mail to umagwww@rit.edu. See page 5 of this issue for the story behind the Archives photo in the Spring 2001 issue.

Flight of fancy

We heard from many readers with vivid recollections of balloons suspended over campus in spring 1972, which was pictured in the "Archives" section of the Spring 2001 issue. Here are a few of the explanations they shared:

Dear University Magazine:

The image from your "Archives" page brought back many wonderful memories. I was the faculty member responsible for this student project connected with the School of Art and Design, College of Fine and Applied Arts (as it was known at that time).
As you will see from the enclosed materials, 120 students undertook four group projects. The purpose was to use the elements of space, color and form to bring people into human-scaled environmental structures.

In the balloon design, 30 students worked 16 hours inflating 5,000 balloons, half with helium and half with air, and installing them on a 24,000-foot nylon grid. When the lines were lifted, the balloons formed a 100-by-200-foot ceiling that floated 30 to 40 feet high.

Photos of the balloon project were carried in newspapers across and outside the country, including Paris and China.

Thanks for bringing back some great memories of those energized early '70s at RIT.

Jim Thomas
professor emeritus

Dear University Magazine:

The 1972 picture entitled "The sky is floating!" is of RIT alum fine arts major Ronald Broida. He is photographically recording the end result of a design project that he created, orchestrated and then directed for one of his art classes. The structure is hundreds of helium filled balloons tied together with monofilament line and then let go in the wind. The undulating structure visually demonstrated the movement of airwave currents that one normally cannot see.

Theodore Lossowski M.F.A. '77
Visual Arts Department Chairperson
Wells College
Aurora, N.Y.


In 1972, the School of Art and Design 3-D projects were environmental. The balloon grid was the most photographed; however, there was also a 15-to-18-foot simulated cherry pie experience that you entered under the crust and explored the interior. There was a pool full of Jell-O that left an unbelievably foul-smelling legacy.

We were so full of enthusiasm, what a time! Thanks for the memory.

Joanne Lachiusa B.F.A Art and Design '75