Maharam and Rhode Island School of Design Celebrate the Maharam STEAM Fellowships in Applied Art and Design and Announce Program Renewal

May 13, 2016

Entering its fifth year, the partnership reveals the critical role artists and designers play in effecting positive social change; event will showcase program alumni and announce 2016 fellows

Maharam and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) celebrate five years of the Maharam STEAM Fellowship in Applied Art and Design with an event at the Maharam Design Studio today during New York Design Week. Recognizing the value of creativity and the importance of applying art and design thinking to a broad range of fields, Maharam generously funded these fellowship opportunities for five years beginning in 2012. Today, given the significant impact of the fellows over the course of the program, Maharam is pleased to announce it is renewing its support of the fellowship.

The Maharam STEAM Fellowship in Applied Art and Design provides stipends for select internships with a government agency or nonprofit organization in the Unites States and abroad. Proposals are uniquely designed by students to focus on highlighting and strengthening the role of visually acute critical thinkers and problem solvers in helping to improve public policy and tackle large social issues.

At the event, guests will have the opportunity to talk with RISD alumni and current students who have completed Maharam STEAM Fellowships and to explore their work. Past fellows have contributed to a remarkable array of organizations including the Mayo Clinic, the Collaboratory (part of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs), NPR Science, GlobeMed, the National Defense University, World Economic Forum, Plan International, the SaveLIFE Foundation, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the US Geological Survey, Three Mile Island Alert, and the Massachusetts Port Authority, among others.

In addition, Maharam and RISD are pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of the Maharam STEAM Fellowship in Applied Art and Design. In keeping with the spirit of the program, these fellows will enter arenas rarely seen by art and design students, where they will have the opportunity to effect real change in policy and practice in local and global organizations and communities. Their areas of focus include robotics, water rights, incarceration, genetics, immigration services, international relations, the military, children’s mental health issues, and housing in impoverished countries. With the addition of this incoming group, 42 RISD students will have participated in the fellowship, working in 15 states and 9 countries.

“Maharam believes that critical, creative thinking is essential to shaping a desirable cultural and economic future. We recognize the global impact that today’s students will have on tomorrow’s world and hope the Maharam STEAM Fellowship in Applied Arts and Design may accelerate that change,” noted Maharam Senior Vice President, Design, Mary Murphy (RISD MAE ’86). “With nine RISD alumni on staff, we cannot overstate the importance of
a RISD education to Maharam’s success. We are pleased to be able to continue our longstanding practice of supporting art and design in such a meaningful way.”

“Maharam STEAM fellows demonstrate that artists and designers have unique abilities to make positive global impact,” said RISD President Rosanne Somerson. “By welcoming our students into industries and environments where artists and designers are not typically solicited, we not only develop the next generation of creative leaders, but also encourage new categories of employers to recognize the immense value of RISD-educated students and alumni. I couldn’t be more pleased that Maharam is renewing its generous support of this impactful program.”

The RISD/Maharam partnership supports the college’s broader STEM to STEAM initiative, which emphasizes the importance of bringing together art and design – not only as a form of practice but also as a style of thinking – with the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). RISD has launched a series of partnerships and collaborations designed to champion the role of artists and designers in global innovation.

Known as the leading college of art and design in the United States, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) 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 26,000 alumni exemplify the vital role artists and designers play in fueling global innovation. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. For more information, visit and

Founded in 1902, Maharam is North America’s leading creator of textiles for commercial and residential interiors. Maharam textiles are included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Stedelijk Museum, among others. Maharam is the recipient of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Design Patron Award (2007) for its longstanding support of design and cultural initiatives.