Ph.D., The Ohio State University

MA, The Ohio State University

BA, The Open University (UK)

Cert. Ed., Bath Academy of Art; University of Bristol, Institute of Education (UK)

Paul Sproll

Professor, Head Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design

Professor Paul Sproll's teaching and research centers on an inquiry-based pedagogy for art and design education. He is a longtime advocate for expanding the K-12 visual arts curriculum to include Design and Design Thinking. Dr. Sproll's professional practice has increasingly involved work at the intersection of formal and informal education and particularly in the arena of expanded-day and summer learning. In 2005 and in order to provide underserved urban Rhode Island teens attending public and charter schools with greater access to high-quality arts learning opportunities, he founded Project Open Door - a college access program housed in the Department of  Teaching + Learning in Art + Design. In addition to his work in support of teens, Professor Sproll has a long history of providing art teachers with access to professional development opportunities. He has received grants in support of these arts learning initiatives totaling over $2 million from organizations ranging from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Surdna Foundation, the Angell Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation.


Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson

MA., University of Arizona, Tucson

BA., Bard College

Shana Cinquemani

Assistant Professor

Dr. Shana Cinquemani is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design. Her research interests are grounded in theories of early childhood art education, the conceptualization of children’s art as a meaningful socio-cultural practice, connections between art and play, curriculum inquiry and theory, ethical research practices with children, and relationships between children and adults in the art classroom space. She has worked as a museum educator, a preschool teaching assistant, as well as an elementary and middle school art teacher.


Dr. Shana has published her research in The Journal of Art Education, Bank Street College of Education’s Occasional Papers, The Journal of Visual Inquiry, and has a chapter in the edited text Communities of Practice: Art, Play, and Aesthetics in Early Childhood. She is currently working on a publication related to ethical practice in teaching and research with young children. In addition, she has presented her research at various national and international conferences, including the National Art Education Association,  Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education, The International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry, as well as various state art education conferences. Currently, Dr. Shana is the President of the Early Childhood Art Educators Interest Group for the NAEA and serves on the editorial review board for The Journal of Art Education.

MFA, Yale University

BS, University of North Dakota

Website: www.nancyfriese.com

Nancy Friese


Professor Nancy Friese is a painter-printmaker in the lineage of American landscape artists. Her practice of experiential on-site painting and drawing posits landscape in a philosophical and phenomenal space. She has had more than 25 one-person shows and 150 shows, nationally and internationally, including at the Barbican Center in London, the International Center of Print in New York, and Tokyo’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Friese’s work is in 45 corporate and museum collections. She has been awarded three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and 15 residencies, including one at Monet’s home in Giverny. Friese came to RISD as head of Printmaking (1990-98). During a subsequent tenure as Dean of Graduate Studies (1998-04), she initiated a teaching collaborative between RISD’s Graduate Division and Brown University, which has contributed to the advancement of collegiate-level teaching in the fields of art, design, and architecture, and which has awarded teaching certificates to over 350 RISD graduate students and faculty.

EdD., Boston University

MA, University of Rhode Island

M.Ed., Rhode Island College

BA, Rhode Island College


Janice DeFrances

Senior Lecturer

Dr. Janice DeFrances is an experienced school leader and mental health advocate with a proven history of innovator, effective program development, and team building for meaningful change in learning environments. Dr. DeFrances has extensive experience in both the public and private sector as a school principal, special education director, and CEO. She holds two master's degrees in special education and counseling, a doctorate in administration/special education, and a post-doctorate in neuropsychology. In addition to her administrative duties, Dr. DeFrances continues her work as an educator and researcher, with a focus in the areas of child development, holistic education, and the promotion of positive mental health, applying theory to practice and developing effective programs to serve children, youth and families. She served eight years on the North Kingstown School Committee, serving also on the policy subcommittee, and as is the chairperson.  

MLA, Harvard University

BA, Brown University

Nadine Gerdts

Senior Critic

Nadine Gerdts has worked on non-profit community-based design and planning projects in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for over 20 years.  After working with the pioneering urban agriculture and community open space advocacy non-profit, Boston Urban Gardeners, she was a Fulbright Scholar at the Institutt for Landskapsarkitektur in Aas, Norway, where she conducted research on the public landscapes of social housing in the Scandinavian countries,. She continues to explore the dynamics of urban landscapes through her research and academic work. A lecturer and critic at RISD since 1995, she addresses contemporary practices in landscape and urbanism through interdisciplinary studios and seminars that link social, cultural, and environmental issues to design. In 2004, challenging the boundaries of traditional art and design education, she initiated InsideOut Studio. In this interdisciplinary studio, RISD students work directly with children and teenagers in urban public schools on site-specific design-build projects. She holds a joint part-time appointment with the Department Landscape Architecture and the Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design and was a visiting instructor in Urban Studies at Brown University in 2008 and a visiting lecturer in the architecture program at Massachusetts College of Art + Design in 2010.  Gerdts also directs TiLA Group, her design, planning, and research practice, and the Boston Architectural Center's summer design exploration program for high school students.

MFA, Yale University

CAGS, Lesley University

BFA, The University of the Arts

Kristina Lamour Sansone


Kristina Lamour Sansone is Critic for the  Design Education Studio Workshop I: Image - Text - Sound course in RISD’s Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design. Her own learning challenges led Kristina to find refuge in graphic design, a communication process that connects pictures and words in one simultaneous language. For over two decades, she has built bridges between graphic design and teaching and learning, creating applications to support access, engagement, and comprehension in diverse fields such as documentation as assessment, STEM, English Language Learning, and Universal Design for Learning. Kristina has coached, consulted, and presented in a variety of school contexts including Reggio Emilia-inspired and urban public schools. She is one of the founders of the Boston Green Academy, a Boston public high school, which has design consciousness as part of its charter.