The Art of Fulbright Exchanges
The Art of Fulbright Exchanges
Now that they have won Fulbrights for the 2016–17 academic year, Miri Kim 16 PT and Midge Wattles 12 PH plan to take full advantage of exciting cross-cultural exchanges.
In work like Beatrice After Reni, new Fulbright winner Midge Wattles 12 PH explores how photographic replicas impact viewers' interpretations of art and art history.
Inspired to make work rich with cross-cultural significance, a new RISD graduate and a recent alumna will travel in opposite directions this fall to study artistic traditions and engage creative communities abroad. As 2016-17 Fulbright winners, Miri Kim 16 PT and Midge Wattles 12 PH will explore fine art practices in South Korea and Sicily, respectively.
Kim and Wattles join an impressive group of RISD graduates who have conducted research in art and design outside the US thanks to the federally funded Fulbright US Student Program. In recent years RISD Fulbright recipients have pursued research in Brazil, Colombia, Finland, India, New Zealand, Turkey and the Canadian Arctic, among many other locales. Since 2010 RISD has stood out each year as a “top producer” in an annual list of US colleges and universities with the most Fulbright scholars studying abroad, often topping the list of “specialty institutions” whose students and alumni are most successful at earning Fulbrights.
Designed to promote mutual understanding between people around the world, the Fulbright Program is the country’s leading international educational exchange program, with a highly competitive application process. Those who show the high levels of academic, professional and leadership achievement needed to win fellowships earn funding to conduct expansive research in one of the 160-plus countries where the program operates.
During her Fulbright year, Kim plans “to accurately capture the spirit of South Korean society from a Korean-American perspective” as she studies at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul for the first half of the exchange and with artist Wal Chong Lee for the second. She will explore traditional aesthetics as conveyed through 18th-century genre paintings, which shed light on the daily lives and activities of the country’s common people.
“I have always been fascinated by how lively moments of everyday life [appeared] in those Korean genre paintings,” says Kim, for whom the work of painters Shin Yun-bok and Kim Hong-do is especially important in defining this celebrated period in Korean art history. Having spent a few summers in the past with her grandparents in South Korea, she also hopes to “spread awareness and understanding of” a society and people that are often misunderstood, especially when seen solely through their thriving pop culture.
Wattles, who will travel to Palermo to study the history of Sicilian photography, explains that her interest in Italy and the Fulbright Program began when, as a junior, she participated in RISD’s European Honors Program in Rome. Seeing the originals of revered works of art helped her begin to understand the effect of photography “on our preconception of not only art history, but also of place.” With support and mentorship from Il Museo Civico di Castelbuono and the photographer Letizia Battaglia, she will conduct the first comprehensive study of the history of Sicilian photography.
“Photography is a contemplative process [that] explores concepts of image and memory,” Wattles notes, adding that “our perception of images colors our understanding of places, people and works of art.” In Sicily the NYC-based photographer will refine a personal “artistic vision of this unusual island” by revisiting the locations where specific historic photographs were taken and working with similar subject matter. She also plans to collect and curate a heretofore “unrecognized lineage of photographs” for a book she will make with the Palermo-based design studio Azoto.
Acknowledging the “rare opportunity” the Fulbright offers, Wattles plans to develop relationships with and learn from with the people she encounters over the course of her research. “I would love to see the cultural exchange go beyond my [Fulbright] experience,” she says. After all, as so many RISD Fulbright recipients have shown, the arts are an ideal way of opening doors to friendship and understanding.
Three recent alumni have earned 2015–16 Fulbright grants to collaborate with artists and designers in Brazil, India and Austria.
In our increasingly homogenized global society, artists and designers are exploring historical and ethnographic traditions in order to create meaningful, culturally significant work.
This year, of the 20 RISD students and alumni who applied for Fulbright grants to support research and study abroad, four have been fully funded and a fifth won a Core Scholar Grant via Holy Cross College, where she teaches visual arts.
In a project featured in the Hammer Museum's third biennial exhibition, Daniel Small 07 PH explores how Hollywood imagery influences understandings of world history.
Printmaking alum Kate Aitchison MFA 16 PR has won a 2016-17 water rights-themed residency from the Santa Fe Art Institute.
In a new series of videos, alumni will help articulate why RISD’s immersive, process-driven educational model is ideally suited to preparing for what’s next.
Museum Fellow Edith Young 16 PH helps curator Kate Irvin care for historically significant fashions and fabrics.
Students in a Wintersession studio focused on whaling travel back in time at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
After winning two fellowships at graduation, Whitney Oldenburg MFA 15 PT is happy to continue turning life’s disappointments into compelling works of art.
A solo exhibition at the RISD Museum takes viewers on the road with Photography Critic Jesse Burke MFA 05 PH and his young daughter.
A fabulous exhibition featuring work by alumni of RISD’s popular European Honors Program (EHP) is now at Woods-Gerry Gallery.
Junior Natalya Kornblum-Laudi 18 PH is unafraid to challenge others through her photography—and is determined to keep challenging herself.
Photographer Laura Skinner MFA 09 PH is attracting attention with her series Experimental, which captures marvels of scientific principles.
Starting this fall, RISD’s newest Fulbright recipients will work with international experts to make breakthroughs in a diverse range of fields.
RISD is once again named the top producer of US Fulbright students among special-focus four-year institutions.
A Fulbright project focused on Vienna’s venerable opera tradition turns into a lifetime calling for alumnus Alex McCargar.
Sculptor Joshua Enck MFA 03 FD finds unparalleled creative inspiration as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in India.