Crystal Williams by Jo Sittenfeld
Nov 2022

New Space(s)

A few weeks ago, during Inauguration Weekend, RISD students, staff, faculty, alums, parents, and friends came together in a profoundly moving way.

In open studios, keynote conversations, amid music and revelry, and a multi-day symposium we explored the concept of space through time and coalesced around what is possible. What is possible in the world. What is possible at RISD. Indeed, through exploring the past and our present and envisioning our future, we collectively celebrated a shared vision of a more socially equitable, sustainable, intelligent, dynamic, and beautiful world.

This act of envisioning was inspiring. And that world requires our collaboration, multiple disciplines, histories, traditions, and our multiple ways of thinking and doing and perspectives. In short, enabling and enacting what is possible requires us all; it is a community effort. From what I’ve seen, RISD students, faculty, staff, parents, alums, and friends are up for it!

It was a profound honor to be installed as RISD’s 18th president amid such vibrancy, artistry, collaboration, good thinking, and goodwill.

In the six months that I have been here, I have been delighted to meet so many members of our community. I have reveled in getting to know people and their work. And I am always especially happy when able to engage with students. They say incredible and motivating things about their goals, like, “…I am trying to inspire delightfulness...”

Our students are marvelous—funny, curious, open-minded, open-hearted, and brilliant. And I am always buoyed by their combined optimism and commitment to each other, their communities, and the wider world.

In this issue, you will find stories about some of our students. The students profiled in these pages are explorers, collaborators, and initiative takers. They are making the spaces they want to inhabit and, in so doing, making a better world and a better planet for us all.

We also share stories of community members intent on providing opportunity, increasing diversity, and embracing multi-disciplinarity. Stories about taking action to honor a lifelong commitment to art and bringing Providence’s young people into closer contact with art through the RISD Museum. This is a snapshot of the generosity of spirit that characterizes our institution.

As RISD strides into the future, I believe we should keep that spirit in mind. We can reimagine, enact and inhabit new space(s). Together, we can discover and create dynamic possibilities for our future. I am delighted to be here—in this place and on this journey—with you.