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.
Lilly E. Manycolors
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.
Rachel Wynelle Cobler’s disciplines emerge from a fascination for cultures, studying ancient art history at the University of Iowa. A five year break between schools provided space to engage in the local arts community and revitalize her artistic practice. Recently, Rachel held positions at a contemporary ceramics gallery and the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, where she edited the Art and Life in Africa website, rendered artwork for exhibition modeling, and researched African, Asian, and Native American Art. At RISD, she plans to analyze how art historical, museum, and academic practices engage and restrict craft theory. With both ancient and modern disciplines under her belt, Rachel envisions numerous opportunities ahead to change the discourse of cultural production.
Born in Boston, Selassie Davies grew up in the Midwest before returning to Massachusetts for college. She graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in Film and New Media Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies. Following graduation, Selassie completed a fellowship with the Media Art for Public Service (MAPS), media literacy program. There she facilitated discussions with students as they navigated the complex topics of identity and difference, to create digital art for social change. Her latest work has been managing operations for MASSCreative, a Boston based organization, doing advocacy work for legislation that supports a well resourced and equitable arts sector. Selassie is eager to join the GAC program and continue to do work at the intersection of art practice, history, theory, and policy.
Harsha Devaraj grew up in Bangalore, India, before moving to Ann Arbor to study Art and Political Science at the University of Michigan. His undergraduate work focused on creative strategies for personal documentation, and developing projects that convey stories between groups. In GAC, he hopes to investigate how art institutions and artists can responsibly respond to and communicate about inequity, AI, and the climate crisis. What is the role of critical theory, and how can its concepts be made accessible to students, activists, STEM practitioners, and others? Harsha hopes to explore these questions, while hopefully finding time to play D&D, draw jellyfish, and bring up Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s 1969 Manifesto on Maintenance Art in conversations with friends, acquaintances, and total strangers on any topic.
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.
Rachel Glago is an interdisciplinary artist, photographer, arts administrator, and community organizer. Her projects often use social practice principles to address systemic and institutionalized -isms — including sexism, racism, classism — while considering arts equity, accessibility, and representation. Originally from Sonoma, California, she’s a Bloomington, Indiana transplant. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with degrees in theater and communication, and also earned her MBA and MS in Marketing from the IU Kelley School of Business. Her research focuses on the relationship between nonprofit and for-profit creative sector business models. Her work explores how artists and independent record labels can address systemic social issues through distribution that uses socioeconomic processes and community-based practices while maintaining profitability to support artists.
Sabo Kpade is a writer and journalist. He has written for Contemporary &, Media Diversified, Okay Africa and Guardian Newspapers Nigeria where he ran the London beat in a role that includes in-depth reporting on art, music, literature, film and television. His short story, adapted from a monologue from his play Chibok, was shortlisted for the 2015 London Short Story Prize. His play The Good General was a finalist for the 2015 Beeta Playwriting Competition and another play, Have Mercy on Liverpool Street, was long listed for the 2014 Alfred Fagon Award. In the near future, Kpade aims to realisz new projects, chief of which is to explore different research methodologies which have writing as its base, with art and music curation, and sound installation as new areas
Lilly E. Manycolors
Lilly E. Manycolors is a mixed Choctaw mother, interdisciplinary artist and scholar whose works focus on decolonization. Manycolors received her BA in Individualized Studies focusing on Decolonization from Goddard College. Manycolors is known for her emotionally-excavating artworks and performances that invite her audiences to traverse vast emotional terrains through a decolonial process. Manycolors’ works take on autoethnographic and ethnographic approaches to exploration around purging colonial condition, cultural restoration and self actualization. Manycolors braids together psychological, sociological, anthropological, and biological studies with her Indigneous traditions to seek solutions for the colonial damage within the human being. Manycolors artistic and scholarly work and research are founded in building systems that support Indigenous reparation, restoration and liberation.
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.
Prateek Shankar is a designer, writer, photographer, and community organizer. He studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture before graduating as a Young India Fellow from Ashoka University. Tamil by descent, he moved throughout his childhood, ultimately settling in Hyderabad with his family and their adequately self-absorbed cat, Wasabi. Prateek's practice is an autoethnographic investigation of identity and representation and an outward exploration of history, language, and community. His latest work (with the Urdu Project and Futura Trōpica Netroots) was a socially-engaged art installation called Ganga-Jamuna Market that explored notions of cultural plurality and language hegemony in the context of South Asia’s difficult colonial past. At RISD, Prateek aims to further his work at the intersection of community, identity, design, and culture.
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.