In September of 1970, when Per Hoel BID 74 was a sophomore, he met Ana Guerra 74 PT/PR as she arrived at RISD for Freshman Foundation. RISD buildings were wide open then and while assisting each other whenever possible, they were energized by the intense daily cross-departmental cross-pollination of ideas. By November they were inseperable.
Marrying during winter break in 1973, they graduated the following year with a sense of sadness at how quickly their RISD days came to an end, left friends and Providence for Princeton, NJ. There Per designed educational toys for Creative Playthings, while Ana managed the printmaking studio at Princeton University. Moving to Massachusetts in 1977, Per worked for Parker Brothers during the early days of handheld electronics and video games. Ana embarked on a seven year “freelance-at-anything” spree: as a graphic designer, illustrator, art reviewer, intaglio printer, knitting instructor, gilder and display company “artist” (meaning, painting life-size nativity sets and mannequins), among miscellaneous other jobs. Shortly after she began teaching- at art schools and college art departments - while devoting most of her time and energy to her studio work.
A few years later Per started his own industrial design consultancy, NordDesign, and spent years designing a wide variety of consumer and high-tech products. One of his clients, Siemens/Draeger, hired him full-time, he spent more than 20 years as a senior mechanical engineer/designer concentrating on medical vital signs monitoring products before retiring in 2011. Ana quit teaching in 1999 to work on her painting (and later functional ceramics) full time.
Last year’s 40th wedding anniversary and this year’s 40th RISD reunion have made the couple look back in amazement at how they managed to spend their entire professional lives doing exactly what RISD prepared them to do. They are grateful to be able to still laugh together about RISD in the wild 70s and to be fully engaged in the art and design world.
But painters don’t retire - and Ana will have a solo show at Cade Tompkins Projects on Hope Street in Providence during RISD by Design weekend (October 10-12). They hope to see many classmates and current RISD students there and to catch up with how it feels to be at RISD four decades after they had the time of their lives.