The 2013 Maharam STEAM Fellows are working in arenas not typically associated with art and design students and have the opportunity to effect real change in policy and practice in local and global organizations and communities. As part of the program, fellows blog about their experiences throughout the summer and make a final report to Maharam about what they discovered through their internships.
Leah Erica Chung | Plan International BFA 2014 | Industrial Design Leah Chung is passionate about applying a user-centered design approach to the often top-down, Western-dominated field of international development. This summer she intends to focus on the severe communication gap between Africa and the West. More specifically, she will address “poverty porn” – the obsession with using high shock-value words and/or images when portraying women and children in developing countries. In partnership with senior advisors from Plan International and Ugandan social entrepreneurs, Leah will conduct primary bottom-up research in Uganda. Through this research, she hopes to substantiate the downside of typical Western media representations of Africa and contribute to better representing African thought in the West. When not thinking about ways to solve global issues through design, Leah likes to play soccer, read the paper or groove to Beyoncé and Motown tunes.
Bianca Diaz | Project NIA BFA 2013 | IllustrationBianca Diaz strives to connect with people in ways that are mutually empowering. She believes that if people are to be happy and independent, they need the support of strong communities. Using art and education as her tools, she strives to collaborate creatively with these communities. This summer Bianca is working with Project NIA in her hometown of Chicago, supporting the organization’s goal of getting communities involved in creating effective strategies to address violence and crime, and put an end to youth incarceration. Her goal is to write, illustrate and disseminate a children’s book that addresses the impact of incarceration on families. In recognizing that strong relationships make for more successful transitions from prison to home, she hopes that the book will become a valuable tool in building supportive relationships between incarcerated parents and their children.
Michael Jacobs | Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP) MArch 2014 | Architecture This summer Michael Jacobs is working with the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP), a community-driven project to transform vacant Detroit properties into useful spaces that improve the quality of neighborhood life. Working with LEAP and residents of the city’s Lower Eastside, he will use green infrastructure and environmentally responsible design to create aesthetically appealing spaces. Born and raised in the Detroit area, Michael grew up surrounded by modest, working-class people who show great pride for their city. He studied architecture in and around Detroit before finding a second home in Seattle. During his four years on the West Coast, he worked at several architecture firms and refined his photography work. Michael has spent much of his free time outdoors on the lakes of Michigan and in the mountains of Washington, and always seizes any opportunity to explore new landscapes. He has backpacked through rugged landscapes in Montana, Colorado and Hawaii, and his art and design interests reflect his love and respect for nature.
Lizzie Kripke | Marine Biological Laboratory BFA 2014 | Painting/Neuroscience (RISD/Brown) Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Lizzie Kripke is currently enrolled in the Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program. She is motivated by the desire to better understand, describe and respect nature, and is interested in new methods of science communication and education. As co-director of Synergy, an MIT-based program that promotes partnerships between fine artists and research scientists, she’s able to pursue her special interest in fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between artists and scientists. In the summer of 2012 Lizzie began working with Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, where she helped develop digital, three-dimensional visualizations of the biological mechanisms underlying dynamic camouflage in cephalopods. This summer she’s continuing her work at MBL and is also working on a body of fine art based on this research. Before getting involved with the Marine Biological Lab, Lizzie assisted and led large-scale mural projects in Philadelphia. She enjoys endurance sports, yoga, healthy/sustainable cooking, music, friends and family.
Kelsey Lim | Rhode Island Board of Elections BFA 2014 | Graphic Design This summer Kelsey Lim is partnering with fellow Graphic Design major Keela Potter to build on the presidential election initiative they mounted last fall. Called RISD Votes, the initiative aimed at encouraging, educating and assisting RISD students through the voting process while also raising awareness and promoting political involvement within the community. This summer Kelsey and Keela are working with Rhode Island’s Board of Elections and Elections Division to research and pinpoint areas in which design can be used to improve how elections are run throughout the state. Originally from Andover, MA, Kelsey served as vice president of the Undergraduate Student Alliance and as a member of the student Design Guild. In addition to spending time with family and friends, she likes making lists, collecting nostalgic ephemera, drinking tea and eating highly caloric foods.
Nupur Mathur | Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA) MFA 2014 | Digital + Media Nupur Mathur is an Indian national currently pursuing her MFA in Digital + Media. Prior to coming to RISD she completed an undergraduate program in visual communication and digital video production at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. She also worked in Delhi for four years – as a freelance visual communication artist who established her own design studio with three partners. This summer Nupur will work with fellow RISD MFA candidate Bathsheba Okwenje on a joint internship with the Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA), an NGO based in India. In the wake of the much-publicized December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a public bus, they intend to create an online platform to stimulate dialogue about gender politics and sexual violence in India. The platform will present audio and visual interviews with a wide range of Indian citizens about how and why the tragedy happened and more generally about how social and cultural norms in India enable sexual violence. As a multimedia artist and thinker, Nupur creates work that centers around public space – be it virtual or physical – and wrestles with issues relating to what constitutes public space, privacy, ownership, belonging and identity. She is also inspired by and concerned with fundamental notions of time and space and how humans relate to these notions.
Ryan Murphy | World Economic Forum BFA 2015 | Industrial Design Originally from Philadelphia, Ryan Murphy came to RISD to pursue Industrial Design. He is passionate about the role of design on a global scale and is currently working on international development projects in India and Sri Lanka, government and industry research for the STEM to STEAM movement at RISD, visual process mapping on the effect of Islam on democracy and design in South and Southeast Asia and a commodity exchange platform and asset database for emerging economies at the MIT Media Lab.This summer Ryan is working at the World Economic Forum on its Rethinking Personal Data project. He will work directly with Bill Hoffman, who is leading the project for the WEF, and jointly collaborate with Intel Labs on mapping personal data worldwide. The focus of the project will be on protection and security, rights and responsibilities for using data, and strengthening accountability and enforcement – all areas where design thinking can play a huge role.
Bathsheba Okwenje | Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA) MFA 2014 | Digital + MediaPrior to coming RISD, Bathsheba Okwenje – a native of Uganda – spent 11 years with the United Nations in countries in Europe and Africa focusing on advocacy and communications efforts related to HIV and AIDS. This summer Bathsheba will work with fellow RISD MFA candidate Nupur Mathur on a joint internship with the Integrated Development Education Association (IDEA), an NGO based in India. In the wake of the much-publicized December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a public bus, they intend to create an online platform to stimulate dialogue about gender politics and sexual violence in India. The platform will present audio and visual interviews with a wide range of Indian citizens about how and why the tragedy happened and more generally about how social and cultural norms in India enable sexual violence. Using a variety of media – including photography, video, audio, cartography and sewing – Bathsheba creates installations and other works that explore the interior lives of people and the interactions between them.
Keela Potter | Rhode Island Board of Elections BFA 2014 | Graphic DesignKeela Potter co-founded RISD Votes with fellow Graphic Design junior Kelsey Lim in response to the lack of political engagement and voting resources on campus. Keela and Kelsey recognized the need for an initiative that would provide students with the necessary tools to cast their ballots in the 2012 general election and would highlight the role of design in government. This summer they are teaming up again to work with the Rhode Island Board of Elections and the Secretary of State’s Elections Division to help analyze current voting systems and processes in order to propose design solutions that will improve the government’s efficiency and its communication with citizens. Keela was raised in Minneapolis, MN. When not busy in her studio, she can be found working for the RISD Museum’s Family + Youth programs or planning ambitious undertakings like the 2013 A Better World by Design conference.
Eliza Squibb | Grupo Interdisciplinario Amazonia BFA 2013 | TextilesAs a textiles artist and designer, Eliza Squibb is interested in the intersection of textile arts and cultural identity. During her summer internship with the Grupo Interdisciplinario Amazonía, she is documenting the textile production of the Shipibo-Conibo people, an indigenous Amazonian group in Cantagallo, Perú. This community uses traditional textile production as a tool for economic gain and cultural visibility. This spring Eliza designed a textile in collaboration with Providence-based immunologist Annie De Groot, head of EpiVax and the GAIA Vaccine Foundation. The goal of this project is to raise awareness of cervical cancer and encourage screening and vaccination at the Gaia clinic in Bamako, Mali. At RISD Eliza’s abiding interest in the intersection of art and science has led her to work as an artist in residence at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA and as a student researcher at RISD’s Nature Lab.