Valuable Support for RISD Artists

Valuable Support for RISD Artists

Three local artists with ties to RISD have earned all three 2017 MacColl Johnson Fellowships awarded by the Rhode Island Foundation: photographers Jordan Seaberry 14 PH and RaMell Ross MFA 14 PH and multimedia artist Sheida Soleimani, a lecturer in RISD’s History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences department.

The fund provides open-ended grants of $25,000 to “emerging and mid-career Rhode Island artists whose works demonstrates … significant artistic merit.” The only string attached is that artists must be based in the state. “Consider it a MacArthur ‘genius grant‘ scaled to Little Rhody proportions,” the Providence Journal suggests.

Ross, a research affiliate at the MIT Media Lab and a professor of practice through the Brown Arts Initiative and its Visual Art Department, is hoping to move into post-production work on Hale County This Morning, This Evening, a feature-length film about black teenagers coming of age in rural Alabama.

In addition, the artist who has been photographing and filming in the south since before he came to RISD also plans to use the fellowship funding to buy additional camera equipment and film, and underwrite travel and production costs associated with his next two projects. In the past, Ross’ work has garnered support from the Sundance Institute, the Aaron Siskind Foundation, the MIT Media Lab and RISD, among others.

Since graduation Seaberry has worked with a variety of nonprofit and community-based organizations in Providence and now serves as director of public policy at the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, where he is continuing an ongoing series of painted portraits (see Ryan, above) that pays homage to local victims of gun violence. He plans to use the grant funding to expand his repertoire through experimentation in sculpture, mixed media and larger 3D projects.

“A lot of the women you see in my work were executed or tortured because wearing a head covering wasn’t their choice and didn’t reflect their religious or secular views.”HPSS Lecturer Sheida Soleimani

Soleimani will use her grant money to travel and purchase new equipment in support of her photography practice. To Oblivion (see below), her recent exhibition at Edel Assanti in London, drew attention to female victims of torture in Iran, the country from which her parents escaped after being imprisoned.

“A lot of the women you see in my work,” she recently told Refinery29, “were executed or tortured because wearing a head covering wasn’t their choice and didn’t reflect their religious or secular views.”

Simone Solondz

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