Provost Rosanne Somerson
“You are in a place where you can live out loud in a way that perhaps you have never been able to do before, where risk is encouraged, where failure is a path to innovation, where inspiration and admiration will happen every day from your peers, your faculty, and on the best days, from yourself.” —Provost Rosanne Somerson speaking at RISD Convocation
Rosanne Somerson 76 ID joined RISD’s faculty in 1985 and ran the MFA Graduate Program in Furniture Design in Industrial Design until 1995. From 1995–05 she was head of the newly formed Department of Furniture Design. She served as interim associate provost for Academic Affairs from 2005–07 and interim provost for the 2011–12 academic year and was appointed provost in 2012.
In addition to her academic roles at RISD, Somerson has maintained her own studio since 1978, where she designs and makes furniture for exhibitions and by commission. She is also a partner in DEZCO LLC, a production furniture company whose projects include design and manufacture of the furnishings for the 500-bed living quarters in 15 West at RISD.
Somerson has exhibited work extensively throughout the US and internationally in museums such as the Louvre in Paris. She is featured in many books and publications, and her work is included in a host of private, corporate and museum collections, notably the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Yale University Art Gallery; the Huntsville Museum of Art in Huntsville, AL; the Fuller Museum of Craft in MA; the Smith College Museum of Art and the Museum of Art at RISD.
She has lectured at museums, conferences, corporations and schools around the world, has served on many panels and juries and appeared in several videos and television segments. She was an honored subject of the Oral History Artists Project of the Smithsonian Institute. She has received awards and citations for her work as a designer, artist and teacher, including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and the James Renwick Alliance Distinguished Crafts Educator Award.