Learn more about the RISD Fulbright award recipients and their projects.
Ashton Agbomenou '14/FAV, Benin
Visions of Dahomey
Ashton proposed to retrace his ancestral heritage, and create a series of history paintings that recreate a visual history of precolonial Benin, then the Dahomey Kingdom. Ever since he was young, his knowledge of his Beninese ancestry has remained limited to the fragments of information I'd get from world history books and frail online searches. He aims to reconstruct scenes of the Dahomey Kingdom in the form of paintings that would combine the wealth of artifacts and images available in the research facilities and institutions in Benin onto a single canvas. To do so, he will be working with a partner, a Professor of Art History at the University Abomey Calavi, to conduct research that investigates the customs, accomplishments, and challenges that the Dahomey people have faced historically.
Allison Morgan '16/Apparel, Italy
Venetian Flair: Italian Costume Design for the Operatic Stage
With the support of the Fulbright grant, Allison Morgan will investigate costume construction and history in Venice, Italy. Under the tutelage of expert costume maker Giovanna Fiorentini, Allison will enroll in costume design coursework at the Accademia di Belle Arti Venezia and participate in the design, costuming and dressing of live opera performances in Venetian theaters. She will conduct independent research in the historic garment and textile collections of Venice and Italy at-large, while engaging in the various local visual and performing art festivals that occur throughout the year. Allison will maintain an active studio practice that combines methods of sewing, soft-sculpting, embellishment, and film photography to develop costumed portraits of the Italian community she engages with throughout her journey.
Ying Bonny Cai '18/Apparel, South Korea
Across Time and Culture: Sharing Stories and Spirit of Traditional Korean Clothing
Traditional Korean clothing, known as Hanbok 한복, features fluid lines, practical silhouettes, and nature-inspired motifs which reveal narratives of Korean people’s past lives. All members of Korean society routinely wore hanbok up until the early twentieth century when forces of modernization resulted in Western fashions permeating daily wear. By traversing time and continents, the hanbok movement provides an opportunity for generational Koreans to reimagine and rebuild relationships with their heritage. Meanwhile, from the 1990s to present, a phenomenon known as the Korean Wave has led to increased exposure to South Korean popular culture in the Western world. However, less acknowledged but equally critical is the story of ancient Korea, including village community lifestyles, nature-centered ideologies, and artisan-oriented craftsmanship of the peninsula when it was unified. The revival of hanbok presents an opportunity to tell such a story.
Ying Bonny Cai wishes to share past and present Korean stories by respectfully reviving design elements, philosophical symbols, and natural spirit of traditional hanbok into a contemporary form. She will study costume history, learn traditional sewing and dyeing skills, and execute fusion apparel design with the support of Ewha Womans University, while immersing herself in the hanbok fashion community through the Hanbok Advancement Center. The goal of her project is twofold: 1) to take part in the hanbok movement reviving Korean spirit in contemporary clothing, in which present-day Koreans and Korean Americans reclaim their history, and 2) to highlight the femme, the oppressed, and the forgotten stories of Korean tradition to global audiences through cultural exchange that can reach people's hearts.
Gayle Forman '14/Glass, Brazil
Gambiarra and Material Malleability
During her Fulbright Study/Research grant in São Paulo, Brazil, Gayle is focusing on the quest for something she refers to as the “wiggle”--instances in which materials, objects, and spaces fluctuate beyond their boundaries and can be transformed or re-imagined. In Brazil, this practice of repurposed materiality is known as gambiarra. Materials with past life are no longer cast aside simply because they’ve been used before. From resource limitations emerge new fantastic functions for ordinary objects.
In affiliation with the School of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo advised by Associate Professor Dr. Luís Antônio Jorge, Gayle will study and research notions of gambiarra while simultaneously experimenting with materials and developing workshops through Instituto Campana, a non-profit founded by Brazilian Designers the Campana Brothers. This investigation poses the questions: How has the widespread practice of gambiarra woven its way into Brazil’s cultural fabric? How has this mindset affected uses of urban spaces or objects, rather than just those that necessitate it? Her research will build on the conversation about how design thinking and process can result in changes to how we live everyday life and the inevitable materials we use to construct it.
Kim Dupont-Madinier '15/Architecture, Mongolia
Woven Wonders of Mongolia: A Comparative Study of the Mongolian Ger
Throughout her Fulbright research fellowship, Kim intends to study a variety of textile housing typologies within Mongolia to develop a holistic view of the phenomena that influence the sustainable design elements of the textile dwelling. She will document various cultural practices surrounding and influencing each region’s distinct housing systems, and form a comparative case study between four varying nomadic communities living in opposing rural and geographic regions of the country. In addition, she will research the ways in which traditional practices surrounding the textile housing typologies have shifted in Ulaanbataar, the capital of Mongolia, and document the ways in which the Mongolian Ger has had adapt to the clustered and sedentary modern urban environment.
Furthermore, in collaboration with GerHub and The Institute of Engineering and Technology in Ulaanbaatar, she will engage with families living in the Gers Districts, to develop a better understanding of how the use and application of the housing typology is creating an environmental and health strain on the community. In addition to conducting interviews, fabricating and living with different communities and there textile dwellings – she will document the research utilizing a wide variety of architectural skills.
Michael Jacobs '14/Architecture, Serbia
Creating Place for the Displaced: Designing for Refugees within the Urban Voids of Serbia
From the beginning of his creative interests in Detroit, through two architecture degrees, further studies in photography, to his current job as an architectural designer at Dynia Architects, Michael has been preparing for the project “Creating Place for the Displaced: Designing for Refugees within the Urban Voids of Serbia”. He wants to help those in need. We can do so through a global discussion of utilizing the urban voids.
Serbia contains many refugees and numerous unused urban voids that exist as opportunities for productive architectural transformation. With his extensive background in architecture and the arts, he has built an understanding of the existing positive potential urban voids have to offer. Through photography, mapping, and drawing Michael will document and analyze various architectural voids of cities along the Balkan route within Serbia. The intent is to embrace the inherent qualities of urban voids, understand the possibilities within, and expose positive conceptual architectural suggestions for displaced populations in Serbia. The project aims to improve the lives of Serbians, refugees, and cities alike.
Abigail Stoner '15/Architecture, Germany
Soundspace Berlin: Forming Aural Architecture
“If architecture is to work with sound in ways that go beyond either acoustical fitting or the placement of loudspeakers in designed spaces…it would benefit by dropping many of its assumptions and taking sound on its own terms, which may generate something not resembling much of architecture as we know it…”
With this statement, Berlin artist, theorist, and writer Brandon LaBelle opened a space in architectural design: a space for sound, and an invitation to shift the practice of architecture beyond the eyes: from what is seen to what is heard and felt. During a ten-month Fulbright Study/Research grant in affiliation with Dr. Alex Arteaga, professor of Aural Architecture in the Department of Sound Studies at Universität der Künste Berlin (UDK), Abigail proposed to develop a method of aural design with the potential to generate architectural forms to hold, materialize, and realize sound. The generative research, structured as an independent studio, will call into question existing methods of architectural design and representation while extracting new methods from the theory and practice of sound art, an innovative field dedicated to the spatial and material exploration of sound. Physical methods of analysis and model making will ground her work as she answers the question: how do you design the invisible?
Heather McLeod '16/Illustration, Italy
Studying the Art of Communication, Movement, and Narrative Through Puppetry
As worldwide travel increases and interactions between people of different cultures seem to be an everyday occurrence, language barriers force a need for communication through gestures. Puppets resonate across ages, gender, and culture as a way of communicating through an external object and can foster more confident communication. Paintings, commonly seen in art galleries today, illustrate a fraction of a scene and hang removed on the wall, but a puppet comes to life through simple movements and gestures. In the U.S., puppetry is often associated with children, parades, and horror films, but it has significant potential in today’s global world and in the world of contemporary art.
As part of her Fulbright grant, Heather proposes to study the art of communication, movement, and narrative through puppetry. Working mainly in Perugia, she aims to bring different types of viewers and a less commonly seen art form into the modern gallery. She will join the team of artists at Teatro di Figura Perugia to learn the skills of puppet making, puppeteering, and creating successful theater performances. She will also work with the Accademia dell’Arte, and Artist, Curator, and Professor Ilaria Gianni to understand the importance of movement, non-verbal commination, and possible avenues for how puppetry can break into the contemporary art scene.
Miri Kim '16/Painting, South Korea
Finding the Korean Spirit: Modern Everyday Life Explored through Traditional Painting
Miri proposed to introduce the spirit of modern South Korean life, which is often concealed by the allurement of South Korean pop culture. In an attempt to reveal this spirit, she intended to investigate the traditional aesthetic ideas of 18th century Korean genre painting and to attentively document South Korea’s modern day activities. She planned to study traditional Korean painting in affiliation with Ewha Womans University, and create work under the guidance of renowned artist Wal Chong Lee. Miri's intention is to cultivate a deeper understanding of South Korea’s daily life and artistic traditions.
Midge Wattles '12/Photography, Italy
Exploring the Unrecognized Lineage of Italian Photography
Midge's Fulbright aim is to study the history of photography in Sicily through the work of photographers who have created a vision of this region of Italy–both past and contemporary, foreign and local, constructed and captured, tragic and celebratory. She plans to collect and curate this unrecognized lineage of photographs from archives, collections, and studios, into the form of a book in collaboration with Azoto, a local design studio in Palermo. Through this research, she will also cultivate her own artistic vision of this unusual island, by revisiting the places and subject matter of the photographs. Based in Palermo, she will have the support of Il Museo Civico di Castelbuono, a museum working with contemporary photography in the region as well as the artistic mentorship of internationally recognized photographer, Letizia Battaglia.
Alexander McCargar '11/Architecture, Austria
La Boheme Without the Stove-Pipe: Collaboration and the Future of Opera
While teaching English to Austrian students, Alexander researched the collaboration of artists across disciplines and cultures in productions of opera. Looking at the Viennese Operatic tradition through historical research at the Theatermuseum Wien, Alexander then worked with students at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, to propose ways in which collaborative efforts can be further explored and developed today
Lindsay Carone '13/Sculpture, India
The Art of Salvage: Exploring Traditional Craft and Modern Trash through Sculpture
In India, the concept of jugaad is used to define a type of frugal innovation, disregarding conventions to solve problems with limited resources. Many parts of India’s craft sector employ this notion of jugaad, cleverly reconstituting salvaged waste materials. For centuries, rich traditions of hand-crafted goods have been a source of livelihood for communities across India, varying regionally based on naturally available raw materials. Proliferating quantities of trash have presented a new sort of material abundance, ushering in a trend of merging traditional craft techniques with the recycling of waste.
Through an affiliation with Khamir Craft Resource Centre, Lindsay Carone will examine innovative ways that trash and other post-consumer waste materials are re-used through creative processes of transformation in India’s craft sector. Based on her findings, she will create a series of sculptures that incorporate these techniques. The sculptures will straddle the worlds of art and craft, examining the role and value of handmade goods in a world of machine-made, cheap, throw-away items that fill up garbage disposal sites.
Sophie Barbasch '13/Photography, Brazil
When the Railroad Comes: Photographing Brazil’s Transnordestina
The Sertão, or “backland,” is a vast area extending through nine states in Brazil’s northeast that was named by Portuguese settlers for its challenging climate. Because of its environment and its historically limited access to development and infrastructure, the semi-arid region is perceived as being separate from the mainstream, or on the outside. In Brazil’s cultural imagination, the Sertão represents a place of scarcity, unknowns, and dreamlike contrasts. In the midst of this landscape, ghostly cement structures of the unfinished Transnordestina railroad cast their shadows on homes and farms. Tracks extend to the horizon, with no train in sight. Bridges stop halfway, in surreal suspension. Construction of the railroad began in 2006, with a projected completion date of 2010, but like many projects in this nation at the crossroads, it has stalled due to contractual disputes, worker grievances, and contested land rights.
For Sophie's Fulbright project, she proposed to photograph along the route of the railroad, across three states in the Sertão, as it approaches its new deadline for completion of September 2016.
Andrew Fladeboe '06/Photography, New Zealand
Working Dogs and Their Relationship with Humans
Although the role of herding dogs in most developed countries has significantly diminished because of new technologies, land use practices, and fencing over the last century, New Zealand has strongly kept the working dog tradition on farms, due to factors such as terrain and the abundance of grazing land. New Zealand has the largest population of working dogs after Russia, with more than 200,000 dogs handling over 38 million sheep and 5.8 million cattle, making them a significant factor to the livelihood of the economy. Pastoral farming in New Zealand would be almost impossible without them.
Andrew proposed to spend 2-4 weeks at a time on selected farms across New Zealand, photographing the dogs’ lives from dawn until dusk. His goal being to gain a better understanding of the importance of these dogs to their human masters in the context of rural life in New Zealand and how ideological notions of shepherding have shaped the cultural identity of the country as a whole.
Tzu-Ju Chen '00/Jewelry + Metalsmithing, China
The Rediscovery of Ancient Jewelry/Metalsmithing Techniques
Modern reflections need to be made on traditional techniques. Bridging the past with the future, Tzu-Ju is a jeweler who wants to discover new elements from ancient Chinese jewelry and metal works and also to make a contribution to the future by keeping the progress of Chinese jewelry/metalsmithing alive in a new form.
By studying ancient Chinese art with an emphasis on jewelry and metalsmithing techniques and applying them in a modern context, her proposal goals are to revitalize traditional techniques, reinstate the discontinued practice, and incorporate these techniques so they contribute to the emergence of her art. Responding to this experience, she proposed to create a body of work supported through ancient techniques and reflecting pertinent issues of modern China.
Louie Rigano '10/Industrial Design, Japan
Material Objects and the Significance of Cultural Aesthetics
Japan’s cultural and aesthetic heritage is deeply threatened by globalization and modern development. Two hundred years of Japanese seclusion, which ended in 1858, made Japan the definitive case study of the enduring collision of eastern and western schools of thought. Japan’s current position at the cutting edge of technology and modern living obscures a rich past steeped in an unyielding reverence for nature. A resulting clash between past and present ways of life has given way to a precarious discord.
Through this project, Louie proposed to collaborate with a traditional Japanese woodworking school, a Zen monastery, local artisans, designers and design firms to learn traditional skills and study modern Japanese design under the context of profound cultural and historic immersion. By studying the material goods and design objects being produced today in addition to exploring Japan’s cultural and aesthetic background, he hoped to examine how Japan’s heritage has infiltrated today’s modern globalized world and attempt to see if it can still apply as an appropriate philosophical and aesthetic outlook.
Kellie Riggs '11/Jewelry + Metalsmithing, Italy
Past and Present: Italian Contemporary Jewelry as Art
Invested in the challenge of bringing together traditional application and conceptual artistic validity, Kellie's Fulbright experience enabled her to explore the role contemporary jewelry plays in the fine art world by utilizing Italy, a place where the traditional past and present coexists, as a model. Many assume that art practices rooted in tradition are incapable of meeting the demands of contemporary culture, and the convergence of jewelry adornment and contemporary art is specifically problematic due to jewelry’s artisanal history.
The project included five months of visual research in Rome guided by practicing art professionals to explore Italy’s historic artistic tendency to contemporizing the past; frequent travel throughout Italy including many trips to Padova - the home of many famous contemporary goldsmiths and contemporary jewelry galleries . The project culminated with a six-month formal study of hand engraving at a traditional school in Florence to be able to implement an ‘old’ technique into new personal work. Writing became a big component of the grant period as Kellie attempted to navigate contemporary jewelry’s place in the art world today.
Sloan Kulper '06/Industrial Design, Bangladesh
Street-level Manufacturing as a Resource for Bangladeshi Design Innovation
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is a metropolis quite unlike most western cities. At its core are neighborhoods that have some of the highest population densities in the world, in addition to being major industrial centers. During the day, the streets of these districts teem with craftsmen, engineers and mechanics, busily practicing an array of skills: from traditional basketry, pottery and furniture making to welding, metal spinning and glasswork.
Sloan planned to use his year as a Fulbright scholar to study the street-level manufacturing and craft capabilities that exist within the dense network of workshops in Dhaka. The intent of the research was to develop strategies for how this workshop network can provide a resource for Bangladeshi industrial designers to experiment with new designs for products, rapidly prototype their concepts and manufacture goods for sale. Working with faculty from Dhaka’s BRAC University, Sloan planned to thoroughly research the capabilities, range of quality and pricing of the workshops of Dhaka and organize this information into an illustrated website that can be freely used and updated by local designers.
Karen Lamonte '90/Glass, Czech Republic
Exploring Glass Casting in Czech Republic
Karen started using clothing as a metaphor for identity and exploring the human in absentia in her early sculptures of blown glass puppets and marionettes shortly after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1990. At the time she applied to the Fulbright, Karen's work had evolved to a point where she needed to broaden her technical abilities and artistic exposure. She was beginning to work on a larger scale with cast and assembled glass, and these techniques are specific to and highly developed in the Czech Republic.
Karen's proposal consisted of three parts: 1) Intensive practical training in Czech glass casting techniques while working at the studio of Zdenek Lhotsky. 2) Interviews with the emerging generation of Czech glass artists and compilation of slides of their art in order to use in future teaching and lectures. These compilations would introduce their work to the international art community. 3) Instruction as an independent student of Professor Kopecky at the Applied Arts Academy in Prague.
Leah Oates '91/Illustration, Scotland
Exploring the Presence of Angels Through Art
Leah's Fulbright Fellowship was from 1993-1994 involving Post Graduate Study in Printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. Her proposal was related to her work at that time which was about the presence of angels and the mechanisms of time and of flight.
She was inspired by the works of Antoine de Saint-Exupery and undergraduate studies on Rhode Island School of Design’s European Honors Program in Rome, Italy. In Italy, she studied many of the Renaissance painters such as Giotto, Della Francesca and Mantegna which created an interest in angels and symbolism. During the Fulbright Leah began incorporating photography into her print works which ultimately led to an ongoing series of photographs and artist books called Transitory Space.
Rajive Anand '95/Painting, India
Study of Traditional Painting in India
Rajive's Fulbright took the form of a self-directed independent research and exploration of Indian Miniature Painting under the Master Court Painter for the Jaipur Maharajas in Rajasthan, and Thangka Painting with the expatriate Tibetan community in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh during 1997-1998.
By visiting schools and colleges and volunteering as a teacher in India during his experience, Rajive returned with knowledge that informs his current profession as a New York City public high school teacher in the Bronx and continues to help preserve the traditional arts of Indian miniature painting from Rajasthan and Tibetan Thangka painting.
Regina Mamou '05/Photography, Jordan
Mapping Collected Memory: An Exploration of Memory-Based Navigation in Amman, Jordan
Through Mapping Collected Memory, Regina’s Fulbright experience allowed her to explore navigational and image-making methods in Amman, Jordan: a city where maps and formal address systems have been minimally consulted in recent years. She approached this investigation by way of a research-based art project on subjective cartography. Regina reached out to Ammani residents and then worked with these individuals to create informal walking and driving tours of their daily routes. On these tours, she asked each person to point out landmarks utilized in their experience of navigation via memory. Later Regina re-memorized her guides’ routes to photograph these key landmarks, capturing still images through the use of a large-format camera.
While in Amman, Regina worked with a variety of institutions, including Darat al Funun, Makan Art Space, and the Royal Film Commission (RFC). In addition to her nine-month research grant, she received a six-month Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA) in Arabic to attend Qasid Institute.
Anthony Acciavatti '04/Architecture, India
Designing New India's Ancient River
Beyond the urban density of Mumbai (Bombay) and the technology centers of Bangalore and Hyderabad lies the Ganges River Basin: a fertile alluvial plain of 1.1 million square kilometers in area, which is today home to over one-quarter of India’s billion-plus population. While most of the basin sits within India, it extends into present day Bangladesh, Nepal, and Tibet. Not only is the area one of the most densely populated river basins in the world, but every year it also undergoes radical physical changes. With the arrival of the southwest monsoon between late-June and late-August, over one meter of rainfall drenches northern India. And, what is more, despite these drastic seasonal changes and population density, the basin remains agriculturally productive.
Anthony Acciavatti’s cartography and writing focuses on the overlaps and juxtapositions of these three conditions: Population Density—Monsoon— Agriculture. It is an atlas of built and unbuilt projects designed to transform the Ganges River Basin. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, this watercourse has functioned as a laboratory to test and build a new civilization around the culture of water management. Jointly authored by human actors and their shifting natural heritage, the Ganges River Basin is today a machine in which the entire basin functions as a highly engineered hydrological super-surface. After mapping the basin by foot, boat, and car for nearly nine years, Acciavatti is publishing a monograph of his work, Ganges Water Machine: Designing New India’s Ancient River (2015). He is the first person to comprehensively map the Ganges River Basin in nearly fifty years. An international exhibition will accompany the launch of the book in Asia and North America.
Nick De Pace '95/Architecture, Italy
The Emissarium: An Ancient Roman Conduit Brought to Light
Functioning as an overflow drain along the margins of a closed crater lake, the Emissarium of Lake Albano is a rare example of subterranean Roman engineering that has endured into our modern age, still performing its original intended function since the 4th c. BCE. At the time of the Nick's Fulbright, the conduit had fallen victim to severe disrepair, contamination and obscurity. To tackle the initial documentation of this antiquity, Nick studied Giovanni Battista Piranesi's detailed engravings published in 1792 as the groundwork for a present-day architectural survey.
This research inspired Nick to pursue technical training with Roma Sotterranea in the second half of his Fulbright year where he obtained a professional certification in the speleological exploration of artificial cavities. In the ten years since his Fulbright experience, he has participated in numerous archaeological projects within the Roman world with a keen focus on the interpretation of buildings and landscapes through drawing and exploring and documenting their astonishing underground spaces of antiquity.
While maintaining a practice in architecture, Nick teaches at RISD where he was Chief Critic on the European Honor Program in Rome in 2012. Since 2006 he has led numerous studiocourses to Rome and Italy, most recently through RISD in Rome Summer Studies, Mapping Foundations: An Uncanny Exploration of Rome + Its Environs.
Kristen Morrison '03/Art Education, Greece/Mexico
Studying at the American School of Classical Studies
Kristen's Fulbright Fellowship to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens offered the extraordinary opportunity to study with scholars at the very roots of western civilization. The program furthered her study of the genesis of occidental aesthetics, the knowledge of which will allows Kristen to teach students to trace Greek influence and its many translations throughout world history.
Her goal is to further promote multidisciplinary learning, advancing student understanding of the connection between ancient and modern civilizations using art as a cultural window. The resources gathered through her Fulbright have been shared with colleagues, and have been used in class lessons. Kristen also continues to speak at the regional and national level on interdisciplinary study and create meaningful, relevant lessons that include world art. Finally, she also hopes to use her experience in excavations to write and illustrate children’s books about archaeology and the ancient world.
Kristina Paabus '00/Illustration, Estonia
Bridging Two Worlds: Animating LivedSpace
For her Fulbright project Kristina proposed to return to Tallinn to study animation
at the Estonian Academy of Arts. As a multidisciplinary artist, she was interested in
using animation to incorporate time, movement, and narrative into her installation
work. Her main focus was to challenge perceptions of depicted and actual space
through the combination of drawing, manipulated images, and physical objects.
This cross-cultural research resulted in multiple bodies of work that investigated
paradox, dichotomy, and duality, and also reflected her experiences and interactions
while in Estonia.
Shadi Khadivi '05/Architecture, Turkey
Basmane: a Turkish Neighborhood in Flux
The goal of Shadi's proposal was to document the Kurdish squatter district of Basmane in Izmir, Turkey through the methods of painting and sketching, photography, and architectural mapping. The proposal focused on a series of question related to understanding and observing what makes a neighborhood and or community vibrant:
• What is the role of the architect and planner in the creation of a vibrant neighborhood?
• When is planning necessary and when and how do local forces work felicitously when left alone?
• When should architects and planners intervene and when should they hold back?
• Does modernization in the district imply that it will lose its distinct flavor and vitality, or is there a possibility of a distinctly Turkish modernity that it might adopt?
Thea Izzi '91/Jewelry+Metalsmithing, Italy
Traditional Jewelry Making in Italy
The goal of Thea's project aimed to broaden her knowledge of traditional jewelry making techniques such as chain making, casting and stone setting as well as exploring the unique interpretations of modern Italian culture by the prominent pioneer Italian goldsmiths of the 1960’s and 70’s, Giampaolo Babetto and Bruno Martinazzi. Their unconventional techniques expanded traditional goldsmithing at that time and led the way for contemporary jewelry, as we know it to emerge. The rare sensual beauty of their work was her inspiration and aspired her to take her own very geometric work to that level. She wanted also to explore figurative and conceptual forms of expression by studying the Virgin Mary and other female figures in Italian painting, particularly images of the Black Madonna. The vivid images of Piero Della Francesca’s Madonna Del Parto, which she first experienced in 1990, continues to be reflected in her drawing, painting and even songwriting. It is one of the only pregnant Madonnas represented in any form of religious art and a powerful fertility symbol for Italian women; a focus of prayer and hope for their own successful fecundity. The opportunity to study these symbols and their influence on modern Italian culture and design would help to move her work beyond it’s concentration on form and function.
Jessica Paik '13/Painting, South Korea
Diversification between Korean and Western Aesthetics
For her Fulbright research, Jessica spent the first half of the year working mainly at contemporary artist Do Ho Suh’s “Suh Art” office. She delved into textual context explaining the origins and methods of his Korean-American identity themed works. During this time Jessica learned that, like her, Suh attempts to unite aspects of the Korean and American identity through art. For example, Suh constructs a fusion between traditional Korean and Western homes.
Since October, Jessica has also been interning part time at the Fine Art Department of the National Museum of Korea. Most of her duties at the National museum involved assisting curators with exhibitions, which is most helpful in learning how lighting, position, and context all work to influence and control the image of the artworks. This experience was helpful to visualize the concept of cultural and ethnic illusions being projected onto artifacts by their presentations. As an artist, her goal is to represent illusions embedded by culture and ethnicity. One’s cultural background is less visible than ethnic appearance. Therefore, attempting to unify two incoherent sides of her Korean and American identity mirrors the awkward mismatch between ethnicity and culture.
Maureen Jeram '93/Painting, Italy
Contemporary Frescoes - Painting as installation
When Maureen Jeram walked into the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi and experienced Giotto ́s frescoes, she encountered the potential of painting as installation. Color and design, light and architecture intermingled to create an immersive experience. Later in Florence, Maureen began to experiment with fresco, pouring slabs of plaster and applying raw pigments. These crude early efforts instilled a desire to learn more about this demanding technique. She learned that the creation of a fresco painting relies upon the preparation of a cartoon drawing. As a result, an interest in the relationship between painting and drawing developed. Maureen’s Fulbright proposal focused on 1) studying fresco technique under the guidance of the Florentine Master, Romano Stefanelli, a student and assistant of Pietro Annigoni and heir to the long Italian tradition of wall painting, and 2) drawing and painting the human figure according to 19th French classical ideals at the Florence Academy of Art. Working in Florence with one of the few remaining artists practicing fresco, she had the unique opportunity to apply Renaissance painting technique and 19th century drawing and painting to a contemporary art practice. This blend of traditional and contemporary practice established during her Fulbright year in Italy set the foundations for her art career in Berlin.
Gigi Gatewood '09/Photography, Trinidad & Tobago
Capturing the Shifting Symbols of the Orisha Faith
The Orisha religion of Trinidad, derived from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, has evolved through years of colonization, slavery, and diaspora into a colorful, syncretic faith. In recent years, the religion has received government and public recognition. This legitimization has helped replace former suspicions that the Orisha religion was a devil-worshiping cult. It has also influenced a resurgence of Africanization, particularly among the younger generation. Orisha shrines, tombs, places of worship, and rituals are typically a conglomeration of many traditions.
As a result of this modernization, many Orisha practitioners have prompted a movement to remove Christian elements, which recall the colonized past, and regain a stronger connection with African cosmology. The shifting symbolism embedded in the ornate imagery within this complex belief system has fueled my interest to use photography to document and communicate this change. The motivation behind this project stems from my ongoing examination and photographic representation of man-made tools and symbols of belief systems, from the scientific to the spiritual, in an effort to better understand how people approach the unknown.
Matt Maleska '01/Industrial Design, India
Researching Resuse and Sustainability in India
Matt's Fulbright research explored issues of reuse, sustainability, and cottage industries, as inspiration for product design and development. The work took a systems approach to understand the potential for products to meet social, environmental, and economic objectives. Matt's Fulbright project was hosted by the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India.
Monica Ogrodowski '09/Textiles, Poland
Polish Voices In Contemporary Textile Art
Drawing from intuition rather than convention, the “Polish School of Weaving” redefined textile art during the 1960s and 1970s and established weaving as a viable medium for translating abstract ideas into tactile works of art. Fine wool, linen and silk were replaced with uneven handspun wool, thick cotton cord, and hemp rope. Not only were these Polish artists setting a new standard by using unconventional materials and creating exceptionally textural works of art; they were also intuitively capturing a collective emotional and psychological response to the traumatic events of WWII and harsh realities of life under Communist rule.
With the support of the Fulbright Grant, Monica proposed to explore the evolution of contemporary Polish textile art with the goal of introducing these influential works of art to a whole new generation. Through an affiliation with the Central Museum of Textiles in Łódź, she planned to research the treasure-troves of historical textiles held in the museum’s permanent collection and to liaise with leading artists and historians in the field to gain invaluable insight into the collective Polish consciousness that informed these pieces. By connecting with practicing textile artists at the International Tapestry Triennial and the Polish National Exhibition of Tapestry, she planned to document how the legacy of the Polish School of Weaving continues to influence the work of artists today. In the process, she would discover a source of inexhaustible inspiration for her own work, drawing from the Polish tradition of technical experimentation and abstract subject matter.
Alberto Fraser '83/Industrial Design, Italy
Investigating Lighting In Italy
Alberto spent time in Milan as a Fullbright scholar and used the time to dedicate his inquisitive nature to exploring the lighting field. This gift of freedom and time allowed him to perform research regarding coaxial cables and their potential use in other fields such as lighting. He developed a system for extruding a flexible polymer with interior channels which could be used to insert rigid and flexible elements plus cabling and create a manufacturing system which was simple, highly functional, easy to manufacture and assemble, visually exciting and cost effective.
Alberto then developed this system into the table and clamp light known as “ Nastro” and ceded the right and patent to manufacture the product to Stilnovo of Milan, Italy. This company produced this light in two versions: a table light version and the clip-on reading light “Jack”, with great market success. The product has evolved and changed to become adaptable to the new high intensity led light sources, while maintaining the same production technique. It is now called Ribbon and is manufactured by Lumencenter Italia Milan, Italy. It is a highly successful and useful product which has lasted over 30 years.
Patrick Marold '97/Industrial Design, Iceland
Sculpting the Icelandic Landscape
In 2000/2001, Patrick lived in Iceland on a Fulbright Fellowship, pursuing sculptural and photographic explorations that focused on the landscape, climate and rural relationships that he artistically investigated. He lived on a farm in Kjos, north of Reykjavik on Hvalfjodur. His proposal and intention was to work sculpturally with the landscape and natural elements as his context and medium. The extended periods of darkness and winter light were of great interest in his research, as were the unique natural environments of Iceland. Patrick documented work through still photography as well as video and exhibited at the Reykjavik Museum of Art and a local gallery in the summer of 2001.