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RISD and the Ministry of Tourism of Morocco, Maison de l’Artisan and Holmarcom Announce Pilot Collaboration and Partnership
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Above: Pattern design on Moroccan plasterwork with traditional Chinese elements. In collaboration with Master Abderrazak Bahij, Si Mohammed and Prof Khalid Lazrak. Winter session 2018. Courtesy Kendra Xu.
Above: Pattern design on Moroccan plasterwork with traditional Chinese elements. In collaboration with Master Abderrazak Bahij, Si Mohammed and Prof Khalid Lazrak. Winter session 2018. Courtesy Kendra Xu.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism, Air Transport, Handicrafts and Social Economy, Maison de l’Artisan, and Holmarcom have announced a multifaceted collaboration and partnership between RISD faculty and students and Moroccan craftspeople, designers and academics. The 16-month interdisciplinary program aims to create an educational platform for a rich experiential cultural exchange and discourse-driven studies that reinforce a shared commitment to preserving heritages and artisan practices in Morocco and beyond, while exploring the intersections of arts and crafts with technology, innovation and the built environment.

The program extends over the 2017–18 and 2018–19 RISD academic years, officially launching this winter and spring with Crafting the City a RISD Wintersession travel course in Morocco co-led by Eduardo Benamor Duarte (INTAR and faculty lead for project), Leora Maltz-Leca (HAVC) and David Katz (Ceramics). And, Clay-in-Context, a Spring on-campus studio co-led by RISD faculty Laura Briggs (ARCH), Katy Schimert (Ceramics) and Lawrence Bush (Ceramics), with a one week visit to Morocco to visit artisan centers, heritage sites in various cities. In addition to these courses, students are studying the applications of ceramics and other craft-based disciplines in the built environment in Morocco through a series of on-site courses and studies, on-campus cross-disciplinary investigations and contextual history and theory of art and design courses. A core component of the partnership and program is reciprocity and learning among RISD students, faculty and artisans and peers in Morocco.

“This collaboration brings together RISD’s and the Ministry’s shared missions and visions regarding crafts in the 21st century, joining each partner’s collective strengths,” remarks Daniel Cavicchi, Associate Provost for Research/Global/Practice. “It provides a wonderful example of RISD’s unique model of learning, uniting studio-based practice, liberal arts studies and real-world experiences for the richest and most meaningful outcomes that benefit all involved.”

Alongside the spring semester Clay-in-Context course, RISD will host a residency for Moroccan artisans and a public talk exploring the themes of economies, world heritage and innovation by Moroccan artisans. Through in-class engagements and a panel discussion, the artists, designers and artisans will address traditions and techniques of ceramic crafts in Morocco, the context of women’s cooperatives and collaborations among the fields of craft and design. The public event will take place on April 25, 2018 at 7 pm at the RISD ISB Gallery. Ticket information will be made available at gpp.risd.edu

Students and faculty in RISD’s Clay in Contextclass will spend a week visiting artisan training centers, institutes and world heritage sites across Morocco this spring. RISD faculty will also begin to plan a Wintersession 2019 studio course with embedded zelige (mosaic tilework) workshops co-led by RISD faculty and ceramic artisans.

In addition, a symposium and exhibition will take place in October 2018 on the RISD campus. The conference will focus on collaborations among art and design educators, artisans and humanities educators towards deeper cross-cultural learning and sharing of heritages and innovative approaches to respective fields. During the conference period, an exhibition at RISD will highlight the investigations launched through this pilot program and collaboration.

“This partnership and cultural exchange creates a sustained dialogue among RISD students and faculty and their counterparts in Morocco at a time when such exchanges are vital to our futures,” notes Gwen Farrelly, Director RISD Global. “A reflection on the global value of craft and commitment to the transmission and experiential acquisition of knowledge, from a Moroccan context, is an invaluable learning experience for all parties. We are honored to be partnering with such expert craftspeople across Morocco and such esteemed organizations as the Ministry, La Maison de l’Artisan and Holmarcom.”

This pilot program and partnership is made possible through the generous support of Holmarcom and facilitated by Maison de l'Artisan.

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April 4, 2018