PROVIDENCE, RI ---- John W. Smith, Director of the RISD Museum, and Sarah Ganz Blythe, Deputy Director of Exhibitions, Education, and Programs, are pleased to announce appointments to three new RISD Museum fellowships. Artists James P. Falzone and Xander Marro, both of Providence, serve as the Museum's first Artist Fellows, and Amber Lopez, also of Providence, joins the Museum as the first Nancy Prophet Fellow. All three fellows were selected from large pools of impressive applicants.
"These fellowships meaningfully further how we reflect and contribute to our diverse and creative communities," says Ganz Blythe. "The Artist Fellowships are one of a number of ways in which we are developing our role as an artist's museum ---- a place for research, discourse, and exchange. The Nancy Prophet Fellowship is part of our sustained commitment to advancing the museum field by diversifying the profession and building an inclusive community where members from all backgrounds can learn and create."
About the Artist Fellowships
The two one-year Artist Fellowships, made possible through generous funding by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), gives local artists access to the RISD Museum's collection and expert staff as a means of encouraging exploration of new ideas and ways of working. Throughout 2016, the Artist Fellows will investigate Museum objects related to their proposed areas of interest ---- with support and mentorship from curatorial staff, conservators, and educators ---- and engage in research that benefits their personal practice and delves deeply into ideas, materials, and processes.
"I'm really looking forward to working with Museum staff," says artist Xander Marro. "I've been immersed in a world comprised of mostly artist and craftspeople as peers and colleagues for so long, the idea of engaging with people equally invested in visual culture and objects, but who are approaching it from a different perspective and with different experiences is really exciting." She adds, "There's a lot of dialogue these days about 'de-colonizing' the museum ---- and unpacking how ideologies and philosophies have impacted what gets preserved, cataloged and remembered ---- and this is super interesting to me."
James P. Falzone, a composer and musician, says, "The prospect of working closely with the Museum and intimately familiarizing myself with the full breadth of its collection is surely one that will foster my own creative spirit. Seeking connections between the visual and the sonic arts with their shared underpinnings in design is a fundamental drive of my creative work."
Falzone and Marro each receive a $10,000 stipend and can access a range of resources at RISD to expand their knowledge and art-making skills, including support from Museum staff and access to RISD faculty, libraries, and graduate and continuing education courses. In collaboration with Museum staff, the Artist Fellows will share their work with the public.
Artist Fellowships are supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visitarts.gov.
About the Nancy Prophet Fellowship
The Nancy Prophet Fellowship is a two-year, full-time position for artists and scholars embarking on careers in the arts and considering the museum profession and the roles museums play in an increasingly diverse society. It provides significant professional-practice opportunities to high-achieving college and graduate school alumni, in order to develop the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to make important contributions to the museum field.
The fellowship offers Amber Lopez, a recent graduate of Rhode Island College, opportunities to expand upon her studies of multiculturalism and community in museum practices, and the significance of art through the ages by and of people of African descent.
"What is most exciting about my position as a Nancy Prophet Fellow is that I will be working with a community that recognizes the importance of access to opportunity for artists, scholars, and students of color," says Lopez. "I believe that it is important for emerging professionals, such as myself, to be given the opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge and experience while working between two departments and focusing on their area of study. I am thrilled that some of my projects include working closely with, and researching, the Nancy Sayles Day Collection of Modern Latin American Art while also assisting in the realization, organization, and facilitation of public and academic programs."
The Nancy Prophet Fellowship is named in honor of Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890-1960), a Rhode Island artist of Narragansett and African heritage and, in 1918, the Rhode Island School of Design's first graduate of color. Lopez began her fellowship position on January 6, working in the RISD Museum's departments of Education and Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. She is mentored by Gina Borromeo, Curator of Ancient Art.
About the Fellows
James P. Falzone is a composer and musician living in Providence, Rhode Island. He performs regularly throughout New England, both as a soloist (organ/piano) and as the coordinator of the Providence Research Ensemble ---- a group he founded in order to promote new music by contemporary composers, including his own work as well as pieces by his fellow ensemble members. His work ranges from formal compositions following a conceptual or algorithmic systems approach to more intuitive techniques such as tape collage.
"I find pursuing the historical associations of an era's visual art and its music intriguing," he says. "For instance, as in the case of the abstract expressionists and the New York School of composers. On the other hand, my study of the music of antiquity is more related to the purely formal elements of the period's visual arts, in terms of the sense of proportion, scale, and structure."
Amber Lopez graduated magna cum laude from Rhode Island College (RIC) in May 2015 with a bachelor's degree in art history and Africana studies; her studies focused on the rise of multiculturalism and community in museum practices, and the significance of art by and reflecting people of African descent ---- from ancient depictions to contemporary artists. From 2010 to 2015, she was a gallery specialist at RIC's Edward Mitchell Bannister Gallery, where she assisted in the installation, storage, and maintenance of artworks, as well as gallery programming. She co-curated and archived the gallery's collection, including a body of work by Andy Warhol.
Xander Marro describes her work as "often about spiritual relationships to the material stuff of this world." She draws pictures, makes movies, produces plays with elaborate sets and costumes, and makes work such as quilts and dioramas. In 2000, Marro co-founded the Dirt Palace, a feminist art space and artists' collective in Providence's Olneyville neighborhood.
"I'm excited to dig into the [RISD Museum's] contemporary collection as a way of learning art history, and patterns and textiles are in my blood," Marro says. "A big part of what made me fall in love with (and make my home in) Rhode Island is that it has this textile history and that there are still insanely awesome independently owned fabric stores, as well as lots of people who have stockpiles of old textiles who sell them at the flea markets. The last time I was at the Museum there was a textile exhibition that included important historical pieces right next to things made by RISD undergraduates. I loved it!"
About the RISD Museum
The RISD Museum--- southeastern New England's only comprehensive art museum--- was established in Providence in 1877, alongside the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The Museum's collection of about 100,000 objects includes paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, costume, furniture, and other works of art and design from all over the world, from ancient times to the latest in contemporary art.
Information: 401 454 6500 or risdmuseum.org. Follow the RISD Museum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Artsy (@RISDMuseum).