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2011–12 Fulbright Winners Explore Global Culture

2011–12 Fulbright Winners Explore Global Culture

For the second year in a row, RISD has been named a top performer by the US State Department's Fulbright Program, the country's most competitive and prestigious merit-based awards for study abroad. Four recent graduates won Fulbrights for 2011-12, putting RISD first among the specialized institutions producing the most Fulbright scholars.

With 23 Fulbright winners in the past five years, and more than 58 RISD Fulbright winners since 1994, RISD has established a strong record of producing highly qualified candidates selected for their academic merit and leadership potential, topping a list of schools that includes the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Institute of Music and Juilliard, among others, according to an article in the October 24 online edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This fall recent graduates in Architecture, Furniture Design and Jewelry+Metalsmithing are continuing the tradition by embarking on a year of research to explore the role and impact of various aspects of art and design in today’s world.

Reed Duecy-Gibbs MArch 11 is studying the role of historic architecture and adaptive reuse in the rapidly expanding and highly cosmopolitan city of Istanbul. During his year in Turkey, his research will focus on the decommissioning of two 19th-century train stations that have been mired in conflict for a decade as the government and developers push for preservation versus development. One of the stations, the Sirkeci Terminal, was once the terminus of the Orient Express.

“The issue of preservation and reuse in growing cities will become increasingly important in the 21st century, and will certainly play a role in urban quality of life and civic vitality,” Duecy-Gibbs wrote in a personal statement for his Fulbright grant. “I hope to participate in this discussion.”

Fellow Architecture alumnus Athanasiou Geolas BArch 11is studying in the same region, exploring the architectural manifestations of culture and community that unify Greek cities, and looking at the similarities and differences in how urban and rural communities articulate space. Winning the Fulbright was the second honor for Geolas this year: when he graduated in June, he also earned the American Institute of ArchitectsHenry Adams Medal, which recognizes the potential of top-ranking seniors graduating from architecture programs around the country.

Michael (Misha) Kahn 11 FD, who participated in the Furniture Design department’s exhibition at the 2011International Contemporary Furniture Fair and won first place in the 2010 Design Sponge Student Scholarship competition, is studying in Israel this year. He intends to create and exhibit a small body of work that explores ideas of conceptual duality and synthesis and their relationship to Israeli culture, history and politics. A cross between fine art, utilitarian design and playful commentary, Kahn’s furniture – and hisChoose Your Own Adventure cabinet in particular – attracted a lot of attention in the design world last year.

Kahn also left his mark locally after teaming up with fellow Fulbright recipient Kellie Riggs 11 JM to co-foundRISD Exposé, a student-run pop-up gallery and gift shop in downtown Providence.

Riggsrecently arrived in Rome, one of the most historically significant cities in the evolution of jewelry, where she will explore how traditional jewelry making practices meet contemporary art culture. Rome wasn’t the only European destination for Riggs this fall: she flew to Berlin after winning a fellowship to attendHello Etsy, an international summit on small business and sustainability organized by online marketplace Etsy.

The Fulbright Program, founded in 1946, was established to foster dialogue and mutual understanding between the US and other countries through the exchange of scholars. It provides grants to students, teachers, scientists, artists and other professionals, with US citizens traveling abroad to study and foreign scholars coming to the US. The State Department, which sponsors the Fulbright, has begunretooling the fellowship program to better connect researchers and innovators around the world with an eye to developing creative solutions to global problems.

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