Global Arts and Cultures
Coming to RISD from around the world, students in Global Arts and Cultures have diverse interests that cut across faculty specializations. They develop strong interdisciplinary methodologies through in-depth historical and theoretical research that deepens their expertise across a range of academic and professional fields. Working with faculty in GAC and throughout RISD, degree candidates shape individual programs of study and discover new areas for future inquiry.
Sergio Perdiguer Torralba
Born and raised in Southern California, Gabriela Cantú moved to Providence where she earned a B.A. in Science, Technology, and Society from Brown University. She followed the Race, Science, and Ethnicity track to explore the intersections of racial and ethnic identity, gender and sexuality, and environmentalism. Since graduating, she has worked as Assistant Curator for Digital Outreach in a special collections library and as Associate Producer at a Spanish language theater in New England. Within the GAC program, Gabriela hopes to research ethical representation of diverse arts practices and cultures, museums use of digital platforms, and increasing public access to diverse and inclusive histories.
Born in India, Shanaya Girdharlal received her B.Arch. and B.A. from Syracuse University. Her undergraduate research focused on the link between vernacular and contemporary architecture and the tension between universalism and cultural specificity. While at Syracuse, her urban design project Metsys was displayed at the Shenzhen Biennial. Before joining the GAC program, she worked as an architect in New York and volunteered as a tutor with Teach for India. She is currently interviewing Indian artists for a project on the contemporary art movement in India. At RISD, she wants to explore the implications of imperialism on the densely packed spatial narrative of South Asian cities and how it fostered a paradigm shift in understanding class systems leading to the division of the artisan and artist class.
Chhavi Jain is an independent writer, curator, and a performing artist trained in the Indian classical dance form, Kathak. She graduated with a degree in Literature (University of Delhi, 2017) and has worked with Teamwork Arts Pvt. Ltd., Yatra Books, and more recently at Anant Art Gallery as an assistant curator. She enjoys reading, taking long walks to explore and singing. Drawn to experimental and immersive formats of storytelling- an impetus to emotional, psychological, and physical movement, she believes in pushing her boundaries to curate and execute interdisciplinary combinations in public, communal, institutional and other spaces. Her research at RISD will focus on enabling creative interventions and eventually developing educational and philanthropic resources to make art accessible.
At Sichuan University, Ziyun Ma majored in Tourism Management. Then she took a gap year as a curator assistant, coordinator, and co-curator. She organized and participated in interdisciplinary investigations and workshops with scholars, artists, officials, social workers, and residents to improve governments’ decision-making and boost community revitalization. The cross-field collaborations took her to investigate socially engaged art, especially Social Sculpture. Around site-specific art practices in southwest China, her experiences in curation, interviewing and writing, film shooting, graphic and web design inspired her to reflect on the one-dimensional atomized society. As an ethnic minority female who’s taller than most of her acquaintances, Ziyun’s always fascinated by people’s bodily experiences, sensory perceptions, and diversified cultures. In GAC, she hopes to further her research in identity, somaesthetics and more.
Born in Central Illinois, Abby grew up in Charlotte, NC before attending Colorado State University where she received a BA in Art History and a minor in French. At Colorado State, Abby focused her studies on the interplay between identity and art, specifically how modern artists in Romania have used artistic expression to form an emerging identity. She also worked at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art in collections and research and interned as a photographer while running the CSU men’s basketball social media accounts. While continuing her education in the RISD GAC program, Abby will research art and identity through studying how societal heritage such as folklore or power dynamics between countries continue to influence modern and contemporary artists throughout Northern and Eastern Europe
Ruchika Nambiar is an artist, designer and writer from India. Her work ranges from books and graphic memoirs to miniature dioramas and interactive social-media narratives. With a major in Visual Communication, she runs a consulting practice for brand strategy & publication design. Her research hinges on the formation of conceptual frameworks and how this process is mediated or even impeded by the media and narratives we consume. Her ongoing book, ‘Content, Structure & the Self’, investigates the progressive fragmentation between our experiential and cognitive bodies of knowledge, hoping to develop a new visual vocabulary for deconstructing ‘experiential’ entities. Interested in art & design pedagogy, she also runs a mentorship programme and wishes to develop new pedagogic tools that enable creative research without compromising on the rigor of academia.
Valerie is both an artist and scientist. At Yale University, she earned a BA in both Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology and Art with a concentration in painting. She is interested in healthcare, Mexican history, and accessible healing models from inherited and developed trauma caused by Western exploitation. She studied Japanese and Spanish in her undergraduate years, and loves to sing, read, cook, and drink coffee.
Valerie graduated from Yale University in the spring of 2021, and earned a BA in both Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology and Art with a concentration in painting. She is interested in reimagining both subjects with a decolonized framework, finding art useful to convey the personal and ancestral histories that have intertwined a leading scientific narrative. With a focus on Mexican history, she utilizes her practice to paint, animate, and weave stories counter to the style and tradition of Western art. Most recently, she focused her scientific research on environmental stress mechanisms on epidermal stem cells and epigenetic alterations.
Protyasha is a mixed-media designer, urbanist and archivist—a hybrid practitioner seeking to bridge art direction and curatorial practices. Driven by the dual and complementary desires to investigate the roles of designer as narrator of culture, and curator as an active participant in artistic production, she values trans-discipline narratives in the crafting of spaces of collective memory. Trained as an architect, her undergraduate research at the School of Planning and Architecture examined the affects of national economic policies on Indian architecture. An art deco enthusiast, she hopes to establish a material archive of Deco architecture in the Indian subcontinent to supplement visual and textual archives.
Huang Pei is the culture creator of Nanjing city government. In this role, she manages an interdisciplinary team to scale visionary projects that reinvent Nanjing toward a peaceful outlook away from past war trauma. As the honorary zoo director of Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo, she initiates Hongshan Peace Ecocreations with worldwide participants to invigorate the service system of Hongshan Forest Zoo, which came close to bankruptcy during the pandemic. Through her efforts working with government, NGOs, universities, and private sectors, she facilitates collaboration and conversation to respond to the emerging complex governance issues of the city. In GAC, her research will focus on how art and design practices can be integrated as a system for social co-governance action, creating a future narrative space for structuring empathetic solutions for peacebuilding and reconciliation.
Shey 'Rí Acu' Rivera Ríos (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist, community organizer, and arts administrator. Rivera uses storytelling across mediums to create immersive worlds of magic and liberation. Rivera has 12 years of experience in the nonprofit arts sector intersecting creative practice with urban planning and racial equity. Past leadership roles include: Co-Director/Artistic Director of AS220, a renowned arts organization in Providence, RI, and Director of Inclusive Regional Development at MIT CoLab. Today, Rivera is an independent artist, consultant for the arts sector, and founder of Studio Loba, a storytelling lab that designs cultural projects for social change. Rivera was born and raised in Borikén/Puerto Rico and is based in Providence, RI -land of Narragansett and Wampanoag peoples.
Prateek is a designer, writer, and social theorist investigating the politics of language in the afterlife of colonialism. He studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture before graduating as a Young India Fellow from Ashoka University. His practice is a critical interrogation of language, power, and community in the context of South Asia’s difficult colonial past. His latest project (with the Urdu Project and Futura Trōpica Netroots) was a socially-engaged art installation called Ganga-Jamuna Market that looked into the Partition of the Indian subcontinent through the dichotomy of Hindi and Urdu, twin languages that share heritage, literature, and an immense vocabulary only to be torn apart across religious and geographic lines. Currently, at RISD, Prateek’s thesis explore the colonial legacy of the English language, the politics of World Englishes, and their role in modern curriculums in postcolonial South Asia.
Sergio Perdiguer Torralba
Sergio Perdiguer is an architect and artist. He earned a BA and a Master in Architecture from the University of Zaragoza, with academic exchange programs in Karlsruhe (Germany) and Rhode Island. His international profile has pushed him to do research and work on city+art in Tehran, Shanghai, Ahmedabad and Mexico City. His research ‘Kunst und Stadt’ ("City and Art’’) speaks of his interest about in cities and spaces dedicated to art, and how the extensions of museums can become hybrid spaces with great potential to transform the urban fabric where they are inserted.The result of his research is normally a series of intentional maps made with different techniques (Subjective Cartographies) that capture and make visible his ideas about the city.