Monson Arts partners with Rhode Island School of Design to offer design residencies

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MONSON — Monson Arts announced that it will partner with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to support two month-long design residencies for RISD graduates this summer at its facility in Monson. This initiative will bring two to four industrial or furniture designers to the Piscataquis County community once widely known for furniture manufacturing.

An artists’ residency and arts center in Monson, supported by the Libra Foundation, Monson Arts was established in 2018. Its programs include residencies for artists and writers, intensive shorter workshops, and educational partnerships with area secondary schools. It began its programming last July with month-long residencies for artists and writers who are provided with housing, meals and a studio, along with a stipend of $1,000.

“We’re excited to be developing this programming with RISD, one of the leading art schools in the country,” said Stuart Kestenbaum, Monson Art’s artistic director. “The college has consistently produced innovative artists and designers, and through this program we hope to foster a long-term relationship that can attract furniture designers and industrial designers to live and work in the area.”

Monson and Piscataquis County have a long tradition of manufacturing and woodworking. Furniture maker Moosehead Manufacturing, which had facilities in Monson and Dover-Foxcroft, was one of the region’s major employers before it closed in 2007. One goal of this initiative is to build on that tradition, giving designers from RISD time and resources to develop prototypes for designs. The design residents will be able to make use of Monson Art’s wood and metals shops. Monson Arts is also partnering with the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC) at the University of Maine, and residents will be able to use the center’s digital fabrication equipment as needed.

Rhode Island School of Design founded in Providence in 1877, was one of the first art and design schools in the United States. Rosanne Somerson, RISD’s president, said, “We’re delighted to be a part of this program and to provide a new opportunity for our graduates. Uninterrupted time to work in a great space is an invaluable gift for an emerging designer.Monson Arts, only in its first year, has already demonstrated that it fosters and encourages creative exploration in a unique environment.”

The residents will be selected later this spring and the month-long residencies will take place in July and August.

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