RISD Welcomes New Hires Focused on Race and Decolonization

PROVIDENCE, RI (September 15, 2021) – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) – As part of RISD’s continuing social equity and inclusion efforts, a cohort of new full-time faculty members focused on race, colonization, decolonization, post-coloniality, cultural representation and material practices of resistance will begin teaching this fall as a result of RISD’s “Race in Art & Design” cluster-hire initiative.

“RISD is committed to being proactively anti-racist in principle and practice and to making consequential changes throughout the institution,” notes Interim President Dave Proulx. “RISD launched this search in October 2020 in response to student activism and calls from BIPOC faculty members to diversify RISD’s faculty and curricula and has hired an outstanding first cohort, thanks to generous donors RISD Trustee Kim Gassett-Schiller P 14 and Philip W. Schiller P 14.”

The faculty joining RISD this fall include:

Shiraz Gallab 
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design 

Gallab comes to RISD from Chicago, where she recently worked as a book designer for the University of Chicago Press. She is author of headgear.pw, an autobiographical piece that confronts the limitations of text-based expression, and founding curator and coauthor of Samples and Parallels, a collaborative publication that responds to appropriated text.

Jameka Hartley
Assistant Professor of History, Philosophy, Social Science
Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design 

Hartley is an interdisciplinary Black feminist poet and scholar whose work centers on issues of Black motherhood, popular cultural representations of Black women, child to adult outcomes and stigma. A former social worker, she is passionate about telling stories that address common misrepresentations about Black women and girls within the US. Her previous clinical experience influences how she views the world, impacts her scholarly work and undergirds her commitment to social justice. Her work has been published in the International Review of Qualitative Research and can be seen in the forthcoming (2022) anthology Maternal Connections (Demeter Press).

Jess Myers
Assistant Professor of Architecture 
Myers, previously hired on an interim basis, will now serve as a full-time assistant professor. She is a podcaster, writer and editor focused on urban planning and architecture, who is currently editing a series of social justice books called Taking Freedom. Her podcast Here There Be Dragons offers an in-depth look into the intersection of identity politics and security policy in public space through the eyes of New Yorkers, Parisians and Stockholmers. Her work can be found in The Architect’s NewspaperThe Funambulist MagazineFailed Architecture, Dwell and l’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui.

Naimah Pétigny 
Assistant Professor of  Literary Arts and Studies
Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design

Pétigny is a Black feminist scholar, dancer and educator who explores the connections between coloniality, performance, erotics and Black liberation. Her work has been published in Commoning Ethnography, The Walker Art Center Magazine, Agitate!Unsettling Knowledges Journal and the Routledge International Handbook of Gender and Feminist Geographies.

Christopher Roberts
Assistant Professor of Theory and History of Art and Design and Experimental Foundation Studies
Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design  

Roberts has been teaching at RISD since 2019, when he was hired as an SEI Research Fellow within the Center for Social Equity & Inclusion. His recent scholarship examines cultural memory in relation to the history of Black peoples, with an emphasis on port cities in the US that anchored the transatlantic and domestic slave trades.

Jacqueline Shaw 
Assistant Professor of Architecture
Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design  

Shaw, who also previously worked at RISD on an interim basis, is an architectural designer whose research focuses on the efficacy and rigors of specificity and smallness as it relates to architectural detail. Her work has been published in DimensionsSurface and The Wall Street Journal.

Derrick Woods-Morrow
Assistant Professor of Sculpture
Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design

A multimedia artist working in painting, sculpture and textiles, Woods-Morrow meditates on deviation, disruption, language and representation. His work explores Black sexual freedoms, the complicated histories concerning access to land and the navigation of the American terrain by Black and queer peoples.

Mariela Yeregui
Associate Professor of Digital + Media/Computation, Technology, & Culture
Schiller Family Associate Professorship in Race in Art and Design

Yeregui is a Latin American media artist, educator and scholar whose installations, interventions in public spaces, video-sculptures, e-textiles and robotics have been exhibited in museums and art festivals across Latin America, North America and Europe. Articulating decolonial practice from a Global South perspective, she has earned numerous awards from such organizations as BEEP_Art, Barcelona; the Telefónica Foundation; and the Argentine Academy of Fine Arts.

“Our goal was to recruit faculty to RISD who would expand our curricula, conduct research and creative work in historically under-supported domains, bring new practices to our classrooms and studios, and build momentum towards changing our disciplines,” says Provost Kent Kleinman. “The contributions of these new faculty promises to be nothing short of transformative.”

These outstanding faculty members were successfully recruited for RISD’s “Race in Art & Design” cluster hire initiative thanks to the hard work and expertise of search committee members Alero Akporiaye, Hansy Better, Jessica Brown, Stefano Corbo, Namita Dharia, Avishek Ganguly, Paula Gateano-Adi, Adela Goldbard, Suzanne Mathew, Anais Missakian, Lisa Morgan, Ijlal Muzaffar, Heather Rowe, Duane Slick, Tracy Steepy, Ramon Tejada and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa.

“Each of these new faculty members is steeped in the nuanced ways that issues of race and decoloniality impact their fields,” says Vice President and Associate Provost for Social Equity & Inclusion Matthew Shenoda. “Their joining the RISD community as a cohort is a truly pivotal moment for the college, expanding RISD’s pedagogy to address the systemic structures and power relations that continue to shape our society. This initiative pushes our curriculum more centrally into the future and ensures that RISD will be able to continue to give our students a meaningful and relevant education in art and design.”

In summer 2020, the institution announced a new set of commitments to address systemic racism that built on its 2017 Social Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. As a result, in addition to this “Race in Art & Design” cluster-hire initiative, during the 2020/21 academic year, RISD increased financial aid to its highest level ever and increased racially diverse hiring by 13 percent overall. For the 2021/22 academic year, RISD will continue to build on these efforts with a significant number of ongoing faculty and staff searches and continued work on SEI plans specifically addressing each area of the college and museum.

SEI accountability updates can be found at risd.edu.

About Rhode Island School of Design
RISD’s mission, through its college and museum, is to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation. The college’s strategic plan NEXT: RISD 2020–2027 sets an ambitious vision for educating students for the future and bringing creative practices to bear on the creation of just societies, a sustainable planet and new ways of making and knowing. RISD’s immersive model of art and design education, which emphasizes critical making through studio-based learning and robust study in the liberal arts, prepares students to intervene in the critical challenges of our time. Working with exceptional faculty and in extraordinary specialized facilities, 2,225 students from 60 countries engage in 44 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. RISD’s 30,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of this model of education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society. 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. Find more information at risd.edu.