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Artist Fellowship

The RISD Museum invites local artists and designers working in any medium to apply for the 2018 artist fellowship. One selected artist will receive a stipend of $10,000, professional-development support, and the opportunity to work closely with the Museum’s collections and staff members to realize a proposed project. 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.

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 related to their proposed areas of interest, 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 Museum recognizes and values diversity as central to excellence. 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 training
  • 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) Artist statement (750 words maximum) including the following:

  • What key questions do you hope to pursue during the fellowship?
  • Given the character of your current creative practice, how will your research at the RISD Museum inform and inspire your work?
  • This fellowship is intended for artists at or approaching a critical shift, transition, or change in their career. Describe the current juncture in your work and career. How would the fellowship affect this transition?

2) Project statement (500 words maximum) describing the project you hope to complete during this yearlong fellowship, including a description of the areas of the collection will you engage with

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: July 20, 2017
“Office hours” at the Museum, during which applicants may ask questions of Museum staff before submitting their application: Friday, August 4, 12:30-2 pm and Thursday, August 17, 4-6 pm
Application deadline: September 8, 2017 at midnight
In-person interviews for finalists: early October 2017
Notifications: late October 2017
Start date: January 1, 2018
End date: December 31, 2018


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?
We are open to imaginative interpretations of an artist project. A project does not include an exhibit of your art or of works in the collection. Logistics may limit the scope, expense, and details of the project.

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 October.

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

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?
Our goal is to 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.

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 RISD WORKS and 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 to 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, or digital project.

Are there other opportunities for artists?
Yes, there are a number of opportunities. 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; benefits include admission to the Museum for one year, discounts for RISD Store purchases and CE classes, and more.

For further questions or inquiries please call 401 454 6542.

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.