Rhode Island School of Design

Continuing Education

SucCEss Story

Isaac Abitabilo recalls that he and his Young Artist classmates “built things that could fly, like planes and kites,” in his first CE summer course. Isaac was 10 years old at the time, and as he remembers it, “It was fun, everyone was nice, and it was very interesting.”

Eighteen Young Artist courses and four years later, his favorite course projects have included a reptile mask he made in Movie Masterworks: Monster Mask Maker, taught by sculptor Daniel Langston, in which students made full molds of their faces. Isaac, using a cast he made of his own face, created the reptile mask from gelatin. He has equally fond memories of participating in Langston’s Movie Masterworks: Hollywood Makeup Effects, as well as the Heroes in Space (3D, That Is) course where after envisioning and drawing a super hero, Isaac then sculpted it.

“To anyone who is thinking about taking classes at CE, it’s a really good idea. It always proves to be really fun, and it makes you think in different ways,” says Isaac.

Isaac has found that for the first few days of class, students are focused only on doing their own work. Then something changes; they begin to get close and they become friends. “We share our skills with each other,” says Isaac. Because of this, he has found it easy to get to know the other young artists. “By the end, it’s definitely a team experience.”

Isaac’s mom, Carissa Abitabilo, says Isaac has grown up around what she calls the RISD culture. A RISD alum herself, and now a RISD staff member, animation instructor in RISD’s Film, Animation + Video department and?a CE faculty member, Carissa says, “You never know what’s going to happen at RISD.” Isaac laughingly agrees about RISD’s element of surprise, recalling the time someone walked into one of his studio classes wearing a hot dog suit. “Everyone has their own views and ideas,” he says.

When asked to compare high school life to the RISD culture, Isaac, who loves science, says they are two very different experiences. “I don’t compare them. RISD is very fun and you learn art skills. High school is a different thing; you learn history and math.”

Carissa recalls that her son has always been a strong illustrator. “He has drawn really well since he was tiny,” she notes. “It’s been helpful for him to be with kids who had the same interest.” She has observed his interests evolving through his CE course learning. “He began to look at things with more of a developed eye. He has become interested in the process and is more critical about what it takes to make something.”

Carissa describes her son’s mind as infinitely curious and observant, and she believes that taking classes at CE encourages those qualities. Although Isaac’s earliest interest was drawing, he went on to explore design and is now moving into sculpture. He also loves to take things apart and put them together again in new and interesting ways. “He took apart a broken video projector and made little figures from the bits and pieces that were inside it,” says Carissa.

Isaac sees numerous benefits from his learning at CE. “It made me think differently about problem solutions. Also, I saw different styles of art.?I always liked sculpture, but being there I was able to do it.”

Isaac thinks he’ll continue to take CE courses. And further down the road? He thinks it’s pretty likely he’ll eventually attend RISD’s Pre-College program. Beyond that, he’s not sure. He would like to become an engineer, so he’s considering the Pre-College industrial design major, but for now his CE journey is mainly about exploring and learning what he likes.