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RISD Alumni Win 2010 USA Fellowships
RISD alumnus and faculty member Matthias Pliessnig has won a $50,000 USA Fellowship to pursue his work.
In a ceremony held on December 7, 2010 at New York’s Lincoln Center, the
arts advocacy foundation United States Artists awarded unrestricted $50,000 grants to Natalia Almada MFA 01 PH and Matthias Pliessnig 03 FDin support of their ongoing work in film and furniture/sculpture, respectively. The RISD
alumni are among 52 individual artists and collaboratives nationwide selected to receive 2010 USA Fellowships on the basis of the “impact and caliber” of their
work. Pliessnig has also been named a Knight Fellow, an honor that includes an
additional $5,000 grant to create a community engagement event in his home
city, Philadelphia. In addition, Glenn Ligon, a conceptual artist who attended RISD but didn’t earn a
degree, won a 2010 USA Fellowship.
Almada creates documentaries through Altamura Films, her independent production company based in Brooklyn and Mexico City. She is currently in post-production onEl Jardin, which looks at the drug war in Mexico and follows her earlier film, Al otro lado/To the Other Side (2005), about a Mexican composer forced to
choose between drug trafficking and emigrating illegally to the US. El General (2009), Almada’s most recent feature – a personal portrait
of the controversial Mexican president Plutarco Elias Calles – earned her the 2009
Sundance Documentary Directing Award.
Pliessnig teaches part-time in the Furniture Design Department and works
primarily with steamed bent-wood strips to create dramatic, sensuous furniture
and sculptural pieces. He exhibits frequently and his work is included in the
permanent collection of the Museum of Art and Design in New York.
The 2010 awards mark the fifth anniversary of the USA
Fellowships. The first round of honorees included alumni Tanya Aguiñiga MFA 05 FD and Liz
Collins 91 TX/MFA 99; in subsequent years Judith Schaechter 83 GL, Nader
Tehrani BArch 85, Kara Walker MFA 94
PT/PR and Mary Shaffer 65 IL
were also selected for the prestigious award.
, Furniture Design