RISD Alumni Win 2010 USA Fellowships
In a ceremony held on December 7, 2010 at New York’s Lincoln Center, the arts advocacy foundation United States Artists awarded unrestricted $50,000 grants toNatalia Almada MFA 01 PH and Matthias Pliessnig 03 FDin support of their ongoing work in film and furniture/sculpture, respectively. The RISD alumni are among 52 individual artists and collaboratives nationwide selected to receive2010 USA Fellowships on the basis of the “impact and caliber” of their work. Pliessnig has also been named a Knight Fellow, an honor that includes an additional $5,000 grant to create a community engagement event in his home city, Philadelphia. In addition,Glenn Ligon, a conceptual artist who attended RISD but didn’t earn a degree, won a 2010 USA Fellowship.
Almada creates documentaries through Altamura Films, her independent production company based in Brooklyn and Mexico City. She is currently in post-production onEl Jardin, which looks at the drug war in Mexico and follows her earlier film, Al otro lado/To the Other Side (2005), about a Mexican composer forced to choose between drug trafficking and emigrating illegally to the US.El General (2009), Almada’s most recent feature – a personal portrait of the controversial Mexican president Plutarco Elias Calles – earned her the 2009 Sundance Documentary Directing Award.
Pliessnig teaches part-time in the Furniture Design Department and works primarily with steamed bent-wood strips to create dramatic, sensuous furniture and sculptural pieces. He exhibits frequently and his work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Art and Design in New York.
The 2010 awards mark the fifth anniversary of the USA Fellowships. The first round of honorees included alumniTanya Aguiñiga MFA 05 FD and Liz Collins 91 TX/MFA 99; in subsequent years Judith Schaechter 83 GL, Nader Tehrani BArch 85, Kara Walker MFA 94 PT/PR and Mary Shaffer 65 IL were also selected for the prestigious award.
During a visit to campus in mid April, poet and indigenous rights activist Allison Adelle Hedge Coke inspired students to address urgent social and environmental issues.
Artist Cai Guo-Qiang, photographer Annie Leibovitz and robotics pioneer David Hanson 96 FAV are being recognized at this year's ceremony.
We Come in Peace, a new installation by Huma Bhabha 85 PR, brings an otherworldly feel to the roof of the Metropolitan Museum in NYC.