Governor nominated, RI Senate confirms 5 members to the State’s Arts Council

Governor McKee announced that the Rhode Island Senate has confirmed the following appointments to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Board: Suzanne Augenstein, Providence, Marisa Brown, Providence, David Kim, Providence, Bethany Lardaro, Hopkinton, and Silvermoon Mars LaRose, Charlestown. Loren Spears, Jason Pamental, Katherine Quinn and Libby Slader, who served as Chair of the Council, have stepped down from their role on the Council after serving multiple terms.

“On behalf of Rhode Island, I thank Loren, Jason, Katherine and Libby for their tenure on the Council and longtime commitment to this important economic sector for Rhode Island. I welcome Suzanne, Marisa, David, Bethany and Slivermoon. I am looking forward to their service to the people of our state,” Governor McKee said. “The commitment of these individuals on our volunteer Arts Council is an important role for the arts and culture sector, which adds not only to the state’s economy but to the health of Rhode Island.”

“On behalf of RISCA, I am pleased to welcome Suzanne, Marisa, David, Bethany and Silvermoon to our board. Their leadership and experience will provide our agency with fresh perspectives on how we approach our work,” said RISCA’s Executive Director, Lynne McCormack. “And will assist us in advancing the R.I. arts and cultural sector, that represents almost 4 percent of the state’s economy. Additionally, these new members have incredible track records in the education, public art, community development and financial sectors.”

Kate Blacklock, RISCA Chair, said: “The Council is grateful to the Governor for these nominations and to the R.I. Senate for confirming them. I want to reiterate my thanks to Loren, Jason, Katherine and Libby for their service to the state’s Arts Council and welcome our new Council members. These individuals bring expertise and resources integral to the Council continuing to work to its mission that arts and culture play a role in the well-being of Rhode Islanders.”

About the new Council members:

Suzanne Augenstein, Providence, has worked in federal and state government, for a Fortune 500 company and previously served on the Council in the early 2000s. She recently retired from the Office of the Governor where she worked as the Director of Executive Operations. She is currently a contractor for the Rhode Island Department of Housing under Secretary Stefan Pryor. Her other previous roles included service with R.I. Secretary of Commerce, R.I. Supreme Court and U.S. Congressman James Langevin. She holds an undergraduate degree in Arts Management and a graduate degree in Public Administration. Augenstein’s community service includes Tockwotton on the Waterfront, R.I. Supreme Court Disciplinary Board, Chief Justice Appointment, Providence Performing Arts Center – Scholarship Committee, Arts and Business Council of R.I. (Formerly Business Volunteers for the Arts, R.I.) and Rhode Island College Alumni Association, Board Member.

Marisa Angell Brown is the Associate Director of the Center for Complexity at Rhode Island School of Design. She is a historian, educator and curator whose work focuses on the intersections between art, design, community and justice, with a special interest in preservation, public memory, public art and spatial practice. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, Places Journal, Perspecta, Manual, Buildings and Landscapes, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and her curatorial projects have been featured in Metropolis, Architectural Record, the Associated Press, the Providence Journal and the Public’s Radio. Brown teaches college-credit courses at the women’s prison in Rhode Island with College Unbound and teaches a graduate seminar at Rhode Island School of Design titled Art and Design as Community Practice. Before joining the Center for Complexity, she was an Assistant Director at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University, where she taught graduate seminars in preservation and the public humanities and directed community partnerships, public programs and research initiatives on placekeeping, public art, museum practice, and public history.

Brown received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from Yale University and has a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s from Princeton University. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and on the board of the Rhode Island State House Restoration Society. She is Korean American and grew up in Dubai and New York City. She lives in Fox Point, Providence with her spouse, two teen-aged children and their beloved family dog, Molly.

David Kim is an artist, scientist and educator with a deep commitment to making the arts more inclusive and accessible to local communities. His creative practice centers on cultivating digital, biological and social systems for catharsis and community empowerment and has been featured in Wired, Smithsonian, The Providence Journal, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Art in America and the 2013 Venice Biennale. Kim currently serves on the boards of Providence-based nonprofit arts organizations Queer.Archive.Work [] and The Steel Yard. Formerly a cancer and genetics research biochemist, Kim returned to school for Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts at University of California, San Diego, and the Digital+Media MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In 2014, he launched RISD’s Co-Works Research Lab where he continues to serve as director and supports experimentation with emerging technologies. Kim is RISD Sculpture faculty and has also taught at institutions including Brown University, Brandeis University and the School of Visual Arts NYC.

Bethany Lardaro lives in Hopkinton and holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Communications from Rhode Island College. She has worked in banking since 2004 and started with her current employer, Washington Trust, in 2009. Participating and giving back to the community has been a lifelong value held by Lardaro. Joining Washington Trust, known for its culture of service; both to customers and to the communities it serve, is a decision that she is proud of. Lardaro started her career as a branch manager and now works as a Private Client Advisor specializing in wealth planning. Through her tenure, she has participated in programs to promote financial literacy such as understanding credit, retirement planning seminars and succession planning for business owners. She has worked with people at all phases of their financial journey. Lardaro was drawn to the RISCA council because she has deep respect and admiration for those who create. She believes that art feeds the soul and enhances our lives in every way. Community service has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Lardaro earned her Gold Award through Girl Scouts, which is the equivalent to the Eagle Scout. She is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and most recently worked on the Camp Hoffman Centennial Committee. She has served as a mentor for an elementary aged child for three years through an organization called South Kingstown CARES and served on its board. She also served on the board of directors for the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce for 13 years. She has been the co-chair of the Rhode Island Calamari Festival since its inception in 2014.

Silvermoon Mars LaRose, a member of the Narragansett Tribe, is the Assistant Director of the Tomaquag Museum. She assists the Executive Director with managing the museum’s collections and archives, cultural education and the Indigenous Empowerment projects. Silvermoon has worked in tribal communities for over 20 years, serving in the areas of health and human services and education. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to travel extensively, learning from Indigenous communities throughout the United States. Silvermoon is also a member of the Rhode Island Foundation’s inaugural cohort of the Equity Leadership Initiative. As a public servant, Silvermoon serves as the Secretary for the Charlestown Conservation Commission. As an artist and educator, she hopes to foster Indigenous empowerment through education, community building, and the sharing of cultural knowledge and traditional arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a minor in Justice Law and Society from the University of Rhode Island, and a partially completed Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Washington University.

Read more about the Council.

Governor nominated, RI Senate confirms 2 members to the state’s Arts Council

Governor Dan McKee announced that Mary-Kim Arnold, a Pawtucket-based poet, writer and artist, and Mohamad Farzan, Newport, a founding principal of NewPort Architecture, have been confirmed by the RI Senate to RI Arts Council’s 13-member board. Artist Gretchen Dow Simpson and Dr. Joseph Dowling will be stepping down from their role on the Council.

“On behalf of Rhode Island, I thank Gretchen and Joe for their tenure on the Council and longtime commitment to this important economic sector for Rhode Island. I welcome Mary-Kim and Mohamad, and I am looking forward to their service to the people of our state,” Governor McKee said. “Our Arts Council will be integral in getting the arts and cultural community back to full capacity. The commitment of these individuals on our volunteer Arts Council is even more important today than ever as Rhode Island comes back from the pandemic stronger and better.”

“We are pleased to welcome Mary-Kim and Mohamad to the RISCA board. Their leadership will help us support and serve an arts and culture community that contributes significantly to life in the Ocean State,” said RISCA’s Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum. “Both Mary-Kim and Mohamad have been valued members of the RI cultural community, and their involvement on the RISCA board will help us work broadly and inclusively with artists, arts educators and arts organizations as we emerge from this difficult period.”

Libby Slader, RISCA Chair, said: “The Council is grateful to the Governor for these nominations and to the RI Senate for confirming them. I want to reiterate my thanks to Joe and Gretchen for their service to the state’s Arts Council,” said Libby Slader, RISCA’s Chairperson. “The new Council members have a wealth of expertise and creativity, which allows us to continue our commitment to supporting and encouraging the expansion of the state’s cultural resources, as well as promoting and protecting freedom of artistic expression.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Arnold-MK-2021-769x1024.jpgMary-Kim Arnold is a poet, writer, and artist. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press, 2020) and Litany for the Long Moment, an experimental memoir about her failed search for her Korean birth mother.  (Essay Press, 2018). She has been honored by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, and her work has been featured in NPR’s Code Switch. Other writings have appeared in Hyperallergic, Conjunctions, The Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Tupelo Quarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.

Ms. Arnold graduated with Honors from Brown University with a B.A. in English and American Literature. She went on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown in fiction. After more than a decade working in nonprofit administration, notably as the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and later, Director of Evaluation and Learning at the Rhode Island Foundation, she attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts and graduated with an MFA in Poetry. She now teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown and in The Newport MFA, a low-residency graduate program at Salve Regina University.

She is the recipient of a 2020 Howard Foundation Fellowship, the 2018 MacColl Johnson Fellowship, and the 2017 Fellowship in Fiction from RISCA. She serves as Senior Editor for Collaborative & Cross-Disciplinary Texts at Tupelo Quarterly.

Adopted from Korea and raised in New York, Ms. Arnold lives in Pawtucket with her husband and children.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is M-Farzan-headshot.jpgMohamad Farzan, one of NewPort Architecture’s founding principals, has been practicing architecture in Rhode Island for over 25 years. Some of his major projects are: The Opera House/ Newport Performing Arts Center (2004- ongoing), The Newport Congregational Church (2010-ongoing), the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport (2013), published in the Spring 2016 book by RISD Adaptive Reuse Studio, The Newport Art Museum (2011), the Newport Historical Society (2015), the Hope Club, Providence (2004), Carnegie Abbey Golf House, Portsmouth (2000), Vanderbilt Hall hotel and spa, Newport (1998 and 2007), and Salve Regina University’s Fairholme carriage house dormitory, Newport (2000), along with many residential projects throughout New England.

Mr. Farzan received his architectural training at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and also holds an MArch from Tehran University. After practicing in London for several years, he moved to the United States, where he worked for Cubelis & Associates, William Starck Architects and Newport Collaborative Architects before helping to found NewPort Architecture. He has been honored with several awards, including the Providence Business News’s Business Excellence Award, Newport Historical Society Preservation Award, and two People’s Choice Awards. In addition, Mr. Farzan has been a visiting critic at the architecture schools at the Rhode Island School of Design and Roger Williams University.

He currently serves on the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. Mr. Farzan contributes much of his time to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), having recently completed a term as Regional Director for New England, and was honored as a Richard Upjohn Fellow in 2013. In 2007, he published the AIA Guide to Newport. When time permits, he enjoys sailing, and can be found racing J-22’s on Narragansett Bay.