New RISD Fulbright Scholars

New RISD Fulbright Scholars

From the series TETHER, by photographer Sophie Barbasch MFA 13 PH, who will use her Fulbright year to photograph the backlands of Brazil.

Three recent graduates have earned coveted Fulbright grants to pursue individual research projects and collaborate with artists and designers around the world. During the 2015–16 academic year, Sophie Barbasch MFA 13 PH will study in Brazil, Lindsay Carone MFA 13 SC in India and Alex McCargar BArch 11 in Austria.

“Of the 13 students and recent alumni who applied to Fulbright through RISD last year, eight made it to the semi-finals and these three have now been granted awards,” says Lisa Cramer, grants and residencies coordinator in the RISD Career Center. “We are thrilled for them and look forward to following their exciting Fulbright journeys ahead.”

Launched in 1946 at the behest of Senator J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright US Student Program was established to strengthen relationships with residents of other countries through educational and cultural exchanges. Today the program provides approximately 1,900 grants each year, enabling US citizens to study in more than 160 countries around the world.

“As our society becomes more global and borders between disciplines become less relevant, people are more and more interested in supporting and exploring multidisciplinary work,” says McCargar, who’s planning to use his Fulbright to conduct multidisciplinary research in Vienna, the historic and contemporary home of opera.

In exploring “how opera can honor its tradition” while reinventing itself to appeal to new audiences, the architect will visit the traditional Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) as well as more experimental venues, such as the Vienna Volksoper and the Theater an der Wien. He’ll focus on set design and stage models, which he’ll collect, create when necessary (based on drawings), analyze and compare. He’ll then use the insights he derives to collaborate with set design students and faculty at the Vienna Academy of Applied Arts.

New York photographer Sophie Barbasch is also using her Fulbright year to study reinvention and change, but she’ll conduct her research far from Brazil’s cultural centers in the barren Sertão, or “backland.” Now that the Transnordestina railroad is again under construction (after stalling out due to contract disputes and contested land rights), she’ll document how it opens up commerce and connects the Sertão’s long isolated and largely impoverished population with the rest of Brazil.

“Traveling along the route of the railroad, I plan to explore the movement of people, goods and capital,” says Barbasch. “I will investigate change, keeping an eye out for the details that photography is able to capture in concrete terms.”

Barbasch will exhibit her photos at the Galeria Senac in São Paulo, where she’ll also work with photography professor João Kúlcsar at the University Senac. “When the railroad comes,” she says, “I want to feel its reverberations in the ground and see it with my own eyes. I want to be a part of this universal story—about Brazil, about human experience, about connection.”

The third 2015–16 Fulbright scholar from RISD will use the medium of sculpture to make connections in the Kutch region of India, where traditional artisans turn salvaged waste materials into handcrafted goods. Lindsay Carone is particularly interested in the use of traditional looms to weave colorful textiles out of used plastic bags, a process similar to one she undertook as a student at RISD in 2013 (work that won an award in the RISD Museum’s Sitings competition).

“For centuries, the rich traditions of handcrafted goods have been a source of livelihood for communities across India,” Carone explains in her Fulbright proposal. “The crafts produced tend to vary 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 recycling waste.”

Carone plans to spend several months working as a resident artist at the Kanoria Centre for Arts (KCA) in Ahmedabad, where she’ll develop a new body of work based on her findings. At the culmination of her year abroad, she hopes to present the work at the KCA Gallery and the Khamir Gallery in the Kutch region.

Simone Solondz

Related stories

The Art of Fulbright Exchanges

Now that they have won Fulbrights for the 2016–17 academic year, Miri Kim 16 PT and Midge Wattles 12 PH plan to take full advantage of exciting cross-cultural exchanges.

Critical Design Can Change the World

In early May members of the RISD and Brown communities came together to share thoughts at the second annual Critical Design/Critical Futures symposium.

Exploring Ideas in the Dunes

Building on his work with the National Park Service last summer, Maharam STEAM Fellow Joseph Fellows 16 SC is teaching a 3D imaging workshop this month in Colorado.