Rhode Island School of Design and the Ministry of Tourism, Air Transport, Handicrafts and Social Economy of Morocco, Maison de l’Artisan and Holmarcom Group Announce Pilot Collaboration and Partnership

PROVIDENCE, RI, USA / CASABLANCA & RABAT, MOROCCO – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism, Air Transport, Handicrafts and Social Economy, Maison de l’Artisan and Holmarcom Group have announced a multifaceted collaboration and partnership between RISD faculty and students and Moroccan craftspeople, designers and academics. The 16-month interdisciplinary program aims to create an educational platform for a rich experiential cultural exchange and discourse-driven studies that reinforce a shared commitment to preserving heritages and artisan practices in Morocco and beyond, while exploring the intersections of arts and crafts with technology, innovation and the built environment.

The program extends over the 2017–18 and 2018–19 RISD academic years, officially launching this winter and spring with Crafting the City a RISD Wintersession travel course in Morocco co-led by Eduardo Benamor Duarte (INTAR and faculty lead for project), Leora Maltz-Leca (HAVC) and David Katz (Ceramics). And, Clay-in- Context, a Spring on-campus studio co-led by RISD faculty Laura Briggs (ARCH), Katy Schimert (Ceramics) and Lawrence Bush (Ceramics), with a one week visit to Morocco to visit artisan centers, heritage sites in various cities.In addition to these courses, students are studying the applications of ceramics and other craft-based disciplines in the built environment in Morocco through a series of on-site courses and studies, on-campus cross-disciplinary investigations and contextual history and theory of art and design courses. A core component of the partnership and program is reciprocity and learning among RISD students, faculty and artisans and peers in Morocco.

“This collaboration brings together RISD’s and the Ministry’s shared missions and visions regarding crafts in the 21st century, joining each partner’s collective strengths,” remarks Daniel Cavicchi, Associate Provost for Research/Global/Practice. “It provides a wonderful example of RISD’s unique model of learning, uniting studio-based practice, liberal arts studies and real-world experiences for the richest and most meaningful outcomes that benefit all involved.”

Alongside the spring semester Clay-in-Context course, RISD will host a residency for Moroccan artisans and a public talk exploring the themes of economies, world heritage and innovation by Moroccan artisans. Through in-class engagements and a panel discussion, the artists, designers and artisans will address traditions and techniques of ceramic crafts in Morocco, the context of women’s cooperatives and collaborations among the fields of craft and design. The public event will take place on April 25, 2018 at 7 pm at the RISD ISB Gallery. Ticket information will be made available here.

Students and faculty in RISD’s Clay in Context class will spend a week visiting artisan training centers, institutes and world heritage sites across Morocco, and participating in immersive workshops at Centre de Formationet de Qualification dan les métiers de l’Artisanat, Batha, Fes (CFQMA) this spring. RISD faculty will also begin to plan a Wintersession 2019 studio course with embedded zelige (mosaic tilework) workshops co-led by RISD faculty and ceramic artisans.

“The sequence of courses on the RISD campus and at world heritage sites in Morocco develop pedagogical models to study craft at the intersection of heritage, cultural exchange and social integration,” remarks Eduardo Benamor Duarte, associate professor of Interior Architecture. “One core objective is to situate a cross-disciplinary pedagogy for art and design in North Africa and to study how the making of artifacts and the built environment continue to be structured along a complex and ordered modulation of material and cosmological principles. The millenary Medina of Fez in particular offers an excellent environment in which to expose RISD students and faculty to unique challenges and opportunities for engaging with the multiple agents that shape the social fabric of artisan economies today.”

In addition, a symposium and exhibition will take place in October 2018 on the RISD campus. The conference will focus on collaborations among art and design educators, artisans and humanities educators towards deeper cross-cultural learning and sharing of heritages and innovative approaches to respective fields. During the conference period, an exhibition at RISD will highlight the investigations launched through this pilot program and collaboration.

“This partnership and cultural exchange creates a sustained dialogue among RISD students and faculty and their counterparts in Morocco at a time when such exchanges are vital to our futures,” notes Gwen Farrelly, Director RISD Global. “A reflection on the global value of craft and commitment to the transmission and experiential acquisition of knowledge, from a Moroccan context, is an invaluable learning experience for all parties. We are honored to be partnering with such expert craftspeople across Morocco and such esteemed organizations as the Ministry, La Maison de l’Artisan and Holmarcom Group.”

This pilot program and partnership is made possible through the generous support of Holmarcom Group and facilitated by Maison de l'Artisan.

About Rhode Island School of Design
Known as the leading college of art and design in the US, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, pronounced “RIZ-dee”) is ranked #1 in Business Insider’s survey of The World’s 25 Best Design Schools. Approximately 2,450 students from around the world are enrolled in full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in a choice of 19 majors. Students value RISD’s accomplished faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities and its hands-on approach to studio-based learning. Required courses in the liberal arts enrich the studio experience, equipping graduates to make meaningful contributions to their communities. Through their creative thinking and problem solving in a broad range of fields, RISD’s 27,000 alumni exemplify the vital role artists and designers play in fueling global innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit risd.edu and our.risd.edu.

About Maison de l’Artisan
Maison de l’Artisan is a Moroccan governmental institution established in 1957 in charge of promoting Moroccan handicraft products all over the world. It supports handicraft companies to develop their products and shape their offers in order to provide their targeted markets with a fine selection of handicraft creations.

About Holmarcom Group
Holmarcom is a private group based in Morocco with a privileged role among the major players of Moroccan economy. It operates in several core businesses: Finance, Agro-Industry, Distribution & Logistics and Real Estate. Driven by an ambitious business model, the group consolidated its leadership by pursuing a policy of innovation and an entrepreneurial growth strategy in the wake of the national economic dynamic. Proud of its roots and its history, Holmarcom Group continues its investment policy in key strategic sectors for the sustainable growth of Morocco and the African continent. Convinced that the company has a social responsibility, Holmarcom Group invested in solidarity actions through its foundation. The group is also committed to supporting the development of Moroccan artisans through design and runs Galerie H, a creative space dedicated to crafts and design. www.holmarcom.ma.