February 2, 2012

RISD partners with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of ART in Embassies

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Visiting artist  Jim Drain (RISD BFA 98/Sculpture) is leading Art in Embassies: Morocco, a Winter session course at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), as the first phase of a multiyear partnership between RISD and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of ART in Embassies (AIE), made possible through the generous support of RISD alumna and Board Vice Chair Lisa Pevaroff (RISD BFA 83/Textile Design).


This collaborative project has been designed to promote cross-cultural exchange, and to recognize and nurture the talents of the next generation of professional artists. Ultimately, the collaboration will yield a large-scale outdoor work of art for the U.S. Embassy building currently in the design phase for Rabat, Morocco.


Drain is leading RISD students in the exploration and research of the rich culture in Morocco, examining the meaning and significance behind the surface and visual culture. The class has taken a close look at AIE’s mission; at the design for this particular embassy so that the site-specific piece truly fits within the unique architecture for the structure; and will work with visiting textile artist Soukaina Aziz El Idrissi from Morocco. Dean of Fine Arts Anais Missakian and Associate Provost Patricia Phillips are also involved.


“We are approaching this installation not from specific disciplines, but rather from a materials and cultural approach. The crossover between disciplines is valuable, as each student brings a specific interest and expertise to the process,” notes Drain. “In this course I am working with the class on something with real consequence, and we have an incredible opportunity to have real input into the nuts and bolts of the work itself. It is a challenging way to do a commission, but one that I find very thrilling. Together, we are focusing on how to incorporate materials in unorthodox ways, building models, researching and discussing issues relating to cultural diplomacy.”


The work will continue beyond the studio, culminating in the debut of the artwork at the State Department’s 50th anniversary celebration on November 30 in Washington, D.C., where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will acknowledge the important work that AIE has done to enhance foreign relations through visual art at the Department of State; and ultimately, the permanent installation of the piece at the embassy in Morocco once the building is completed in 2014–15.


“The mission of the ART in Embassies is to advance our nation’s cultural diplomacy through the international exchange of visual arts, culture and ideas,” explained Chief Curator Virginia Shore, ART in Embassies. “While AIE has worked with more than 10,000 artists, museums, collectors, universities, and dealers over the past 50 years, this project with RISD is one of the most involved collaborations to date.  Led by artist Jim Drain, along with ten RISD students, this project is engaging talented artists from both the U.S. and Morocco.  As part of our 50th anniversary, this project is representative of the culmination of our collective efforts, and one worth celebrating.”


AIE Director Beth Dozoretz noted “the generosity of Lisa Pevaroff enabled AIE to further realize one of our goals to work with RISD and the students. This collaboration is not Pevaroff’s first involvement with AIE. An artist in her own right, she has work on exhibition at the US Embassy, Montenegro.”


“As a participating artist in ART in Embassies, I was excited to be able to involve RISD students in the process,” said Pevaroff. “Of course, I’m especially pleased that the studio is being led by a fellow RISD graduate, Jim Drain.”


Jaime Marland | RISD | [email protected] | 401 427 6954


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