The Rhode Island State Senate recently confirmed four new appointments by Governor Gina M. Raimondo to the board of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). These individuals join the thirteen-member governing body of the State Arts Council, the state agency responsible for support of the arts in communities throughout the state.
Confirmed by the Senate were Kate Blacklock of Providence; Carmen Diaz-Jusino of Providence; Michelle Kwan of Providence; and Lorén Spears of Charlestown. They replace outgoing Council members Jean Rondeau of North Smithfield; Deming Sherman of Providence; Jim Riley of Providence; and Francis Parra of Cranston.
Kate Blacklock is a Providence-based artist who received her undergraduate degree from University of California at Santa Cruz and her MFA from The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rhode Island College and for nine years co-chaired the Ceramics Department at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she was Associate Professor. She has been teaching in the Industrial Design Department at RISD since 2002. Blacklock's studio work has moved from sculptural and functional ceramics to photography and painting. She has had solo exhibitions around the country including in New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Providence and Ann Arbor. Her photographic imagery has been used in many large-scale commercial projects including hotels in Florida, New York City, San Diego and recently in the country of Bahrain. In 1996 she was an artist-in-residence at the Manufacture National de Sèvres, outside of Paris. Her works are in many private and public collections.
Carmen Diaz-Jusino has been with the Center for Women & Enterprise, Providence office for the past five years. She has a diverse array of professional experience that includes work as an Educator, Community Resources Representative, Job Developer, Counselor for Teenagers, Spanish Interpreter and Manager. Carmen is also an entrepreneur having started a learning center in her home country, the Dominican Republic. Today she is the Program Director for the Center for Women & Enterprise in Providence, Rhode Island. Carmen was awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration the "Women Business Champion" award in 2010 as well as the "Extraordinary Women" award in 2011 in the area of Business Development. Her dedication, hard-working attitude, and innovative approach make her a known leader in the fields of business, women's leadership and community development in Rhode Island.
Michelle Kwan is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history. Currently, she serves as a Senior Advisor for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. In 2006, Michelle was appointed to the first Public Diplomacy Envoy. In this capacity, Michelle travelled the world to meet with young people to speak about leadership and to engage them in dialogue on social and educational issues. In June 2010, President Obama appointed Michelle to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Michelle holds a bachelor's degree in International Studies from the University of Denver and a Master's Degree in International Relations from Tufts University.
Lorén M. Spears, Narragansett tribe and Executive Director of Tomaquag Museum, has been an educator for over 25 years. Mrs. Spears holds a Bachelor's in Elementary Education from the University of Rhode Island and a Master's in Education from the University of New England. She shares her cultural knowledge and traditional arts learned through her family with the public through museum tours, classes, lectures, workshops, educator conferences and other programs. She works tirelessly to empower Native youth and to educate the public on Native history, culture, the environment and arts. She develops strong partnerships with community organizations to fulfill the educational mission of Tomaquag Museum. She resides in Charlestown, with her husband Robin and 3 children, all of whom are traditional artists.
The RHODE ISLAND STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.