Artist Fellowship

We invite local artists and designers working in any medium to apply for the 2020 artist fellowship. One selected artist will receive a stipend of $10,000, professional-development support, and the opportunity to work closely with our collections and staff members to realize a proposed project rooted in object-based research. The RISD Museum was founded with a core mission of inspiring artists and designers. By supporting the local creative community, the Museum and its audiences are fueled by the imagination and innovation of the artists and designers it serves.

We aspire to create an​​ accessible and inclusive environment that builds meaningful relationships across all communities. We recognize that museums are not neutral spaces and that our collections reflect power structures of exclusion, and our current work aims to offer an expanded view of artists, art-making and history. This year’s fellowship aligns with the 50th anniversary of the exhibition Raid the Icebox I with Andy Warhol, a landmark example of using the museum as a site for critical, creative production. We encourage this year’s applicants to develop an artist research project that questions dominant narratives and traditional practices.

The artist fellow will have the opportunity to explore new ideas and ways of working that challenge conventional methodologies. The fellow will investigate Museum collections, with support and mentorship from curatorial staff, conservators, and educators, and engage in research that benefits their personal practice and delves deeply into ideas, materials, and processes. The artist fellow will be invited to participate in staff meetings, projects, and activities that help build a diverse and inclusive community.

To expand their knowledge and art-making skills, the fellow will have access to a range of resources at RISD, including support from Museum staff and access to RISD faculty, technicians, and libraries. The fellow may audit select RISD Graduate Studies courses. In collaboration with Museum staff, the fellow will share their work with the public through talks, demonstrations, performances, publications, or other formats. The proposed project shapes and defines the fellow’s time at the Museum and research requirements. A budget of $2,000 or less is offered toward project expenses.


Fellowship Goals

  • Enable the artist fellow to carry out object-based research, to learn new skills, and to create new work.
  • Foster public interest in dynamic creative practices through artists’ perspectives.
  • Create links between the RISD Museum’s collection and current practices in art and design.


In addition to a $10,000 stipend, each Artist Fellow will receive:

  • Access to research resources, including the RISD Museum collections and RISD Fleet Library
  • Opportunities for mentorship from RISD Museum and College faculty and staff
  • Ability to audit select RISD Graduate Studies courses
  • Artist-related professional development
  • Opportunities to share their creative process with RISD Museum audiences
  • Opportunity to help shape the Museum’s approach to supporting artists in the future


Applicant Criteria

  • Applicants must be local, meaning Providence is their closest big city. They must have resided in this area for at least one year prior to the application deadline.
  • Artists and designers working in any medium are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants should be at or approaching a critical shift, transition, or change in their career. This could mean an emerging artist establishing their practice or an established artist at a significant moment of creative or professional development.
  • Applicants should be interested in infusing their creative practice with research, and in exploring objects from varied times and cultures. The proposed project will be realized in collaboration with Museum staff.
  • Applicants may not be enrolled in a degree-seeking program, either part-time or full-time, at an institution of higher learning at the time of the application deadline or during the fellowship year. Because RISD faculty and staff already have access to many of the resources provided by this fellowship, they are not eligible for this program.



1) Statement (500 words maximum) addressing how the fellowship would impact the current juncture in your work and career.
2) Project statement (500 words maximum) describing your key questions and the research-based project you hope to complete during this yearlong fellowship, including a description of the areas of the collection you will engage.
3) Project timeline and budget outline
4) Resume (two pages maximum)
5) Portfolio of 10 representative images or samples of your artwork from the past 5 years, with a numbered list including title, date, materials, and dimensions. If the work was a collaboration, please list the names of all collaborators.



A panel of Museum staff and arts professionals will review applications and conduct on-site interviews with a selection of candidates.



Application period opens: August 19, 2019
Office hours at the Museum, during which applicants may ask questions of Museum staff before submitting their application: Wednesday, September 4, 12:30-2 pm and Saturday, September 21, 9:30-11 am
Application deadline: October 7, 2019, 11:59 pm
In-person interviews for finalists: early November 2019
Notifications: late November 2019
Start date: January 1, 2020
End date: December 31, 2020



Application process

What do you mean by artistic research? Do I have to write papers?
Artistic research can take many forms, and no, we don’t expect research papers. We envision artists engaging in research that benefits their personal practice; delves deeply into ideas, materials, and processes; and can be shared with the public through the RISD Museum. Your research could be made evident through its impact on your work, the ways you formulate ideas, and other approaches we haven’t imagined.

What do you mean by project? What projects have past fellows completed?
We are open to imaginative interpretations of an artist project. A project does not include an exhibition of your work or of works in the collection. Logistics may limit the scope, expense, and details of the project. Read more about past fellows and examples of artistic research here.

How can I tell what objects are in your collection and what under-researched areas I might want to investigate?
You can browse our entire collection at You can explore works not on view, past exhibitions, objects without images, and more. If you have questions that are not answered through online research, please consider attending one of the two scheduled office hours listed above, or feel free to contact

Can I still do object-based research in your collection, even if I don’t apply or don’t receive the fellowship?
Yes! See the question above to learn more about how to browse our collection online, and take advantage of free membership for Rhode Island-based artists to visit the galleries any time, at no charge. Interested in public programming? Submit a proposal here.

What is your review process?
Following an internal review, selected candidates will be invited for an in-person interview. Applicants will be notified in late November.

What will the panel be looking for?
Please carefully review the criteria listed in the position description.

Can academics apply?
This fellowship is intended for individuals who consider themselves artists or designers first and foremost. RISD faculty are not eligible for this opportunity.

Will you give preference to RISD alumni?
We consider all applicants equally, regardless of whether they attended RISD.

I work collaboratively. Can two or more people apply together, as a group?
You may apply as a group if collaboration or collective work is central to your creative practice and you and your fellow group members have a history of successfully working together. If you plan to apply collaboratively, please be sure to describe/demonstrate how your collective has a sustained practice together, to include resumes from all members, and to address how this opportunity would benefit all parties of your group.


During the Fellowship

Do I have to spend the money I receive in a specific way?
There are no specific parameters for how you spend the stipend. We are interested in how this funding will support you and your work, but ask only for you to outline your plans for the $2000 project budget in your application.

Will I have a solo show? Will I have my work acquired by the RISD Museum?
The parameters of the fellowship do not include the Museum’s exhibition or acquisition of works by its artist fellows. This program is focused on supporting the development of artistic processes.

Will I get a studio or an office?
The Museum is able to offer a shared workspace that can be scheduled for computer-based research. No studio space is provided.

Will I get a parking spot?
There is no reserved parking, however there are several nearby parking options available at a discount to those visiting the RISD Museum. Public transportation to the RISD Museum is also available.

Will I get an ID?
Yes, you will be provided with a RISD Museum ID, giving you access to the RISD Museum and RISD Library and a 10% discount at the RISD Store. This ID will also get you reciprocal free admission to museums nationally.

What hours will I have access to the RISD Museum, and how frequently am I expected to visit?
You are welcome at the Museum during all public hours. Meetings with staff and use of resources will be by appointment during working hours. Fellows are expected in the Museum at least weekly.

I’m shy. What kind of public engagement are you expecting from me?
Artist presentations should be true to the artist, their practice, and what they hope to share with the public. Formats for presentations could include a short demonstration, a low-key sharing of works in process, a talk, performance, interactive program, or digital project.

Are there other opportunities for artists?
Yes, the RISD Museum offers many programs focused on critical and creative thinking and making. Check the calendar for professional development programs for artists as well as public programs for all audiences. The Museum also offers artist memberships, which are free for Rhode Island artists; benefits include admission to the Museum for one year, discounts for RISD Store purchases and Continuing Education classes, and more.

For further questions or inquiries, please contact


Apply now


RISD Museum is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with the generous partnership of the Rhode Island School of Design, its Board of Trustees, and Museum Governors.