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 and Director, Project Open Door

on sabbatical academic year 2021/22

Dr. 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. 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, 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.  In June, 2021, Sproll was presented RISD's John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching, an award that recognizes faculty who have had an enduring influence on student learning.


Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson

MA, University of Arizona, Tucson

BA, Bard College

Shana Cinquemani

Department Head

Dr. Shana Cinquemani's 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.


Cinquemani 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, Cinquemani 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.

Ph.D., University of British Columbia

MA, Arizona State University

BFA, University of Georgia

Blake Smith photo for website.jpg

Blake E. Smith

Assistant Professor in Residence

Dr. Blake E. Smith is a practicing photographer and mixed media artist who is passionate about creativity in all forms.  Smith is committed to helping students achieve their greatest potential and discover their own creative path in and through art education.  Her background includes extensive art teaching experience from elementary to post-secondary, curating the Lobby Gallery at the Liu Institute for Global Issues and serving as a Faculty Advisor and Practicum Supervisor at the University of British Columbia.


Smith’s interests are interdisciplinary, centering around photo-based inquiry and photo education as well as visual life writing, visual journals, a/r/tography, teacher education, ethics, collaboration, the graduate student experience, mental health, creative writing, and the poetics of learning. Her experience as a high school and university photography teacher significantly informs her work and teaching, as she seeks to connect theory to practice in a meaningful way.


She has published in the Journal of Visual Inquiry and the Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education as well as two book chapters. Smith’s PhD dissertation, Being Against Disappearance: A Photographic Inquiry Through an A/r/tographic Lens, was awarded the Ted T. Aoki Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in Curriculum Studies from UBC and the 2020 Graduate Research Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation from the Arts Researchers and Teachers Society of Canada.

2021 RISD TLAD Faculty Nancy Friese.JPG

MFA, Yale University

BS, University of North Dakota


Nancy Friese



Nancy Friese is a painter-printmaker who works in open-air.  Friese’s paintings and prints have been exhibited in 30 solo shows and 170 group shows, nationally and internationally. She was elected as a National Academician in the National Academy Museum and School in New York City and received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and the Japan-US Friendship Commission Creative Artist Fellowship.

Friese was granted a Yale University Summer School of Music and Art at Norfolk Fellowship, Anne Bremer Award, and Wilder Traveling Fellowship during her artistic studies. She received a six-month Lila Acheson Wallace Giverny Fellowship, a Blanche E. Colman Award, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award and a George Sugarman Foundation Grant for painting. Artist’s Resource Trust (ART) funded her exhibition and residency at Trustman Gallery in Boston.  Her works are in corporate and museum collections including the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum - UCLA, the Spencer Museum of Art, the New York Public Library and the Portland Art Museum.  Her work is represented by Cade Tompkins Projects.  Friese had a Lower Manhattan Cultural Center Residency in Tower One 91st Floor of the World Trade Center until 9/11. She has been an artist in residence in 15 national and international residency programs.


In addition to earning BS and MFA degrees, Friese studied in the graduate painting program at the University of California, Berkeley, and studied painting and printmaking at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. She came to RISD with a joint appointment as head of Printmaking (1990–98) and as a member of the Painting department faculty and served as graduate program director. She was a Mellon Faculty Fellow in the RISD Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs from 2014-16.  Friese initiated a teaching collaborative between RISD’s Graduate Studies division and Brown University during her tenure as dean of Graduate Studies (1998–2004). That collaborative has contributed to the advancement of collegiate-level teaching in the fields of art, design and architecture, has awarded teaching certificates to hundreds of RISD graduate students and faculty and was the precursor to TLAD’s Graduate Certificate in Collegiate Teaching in Art + Design.

Ed.D., 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 innovation, effective program development, and team building for meaningful change in learning environments. DeFrances has extensive experience in both the public and private sector as a school principal, special education director, and CEO/President. 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, DeFrances continues her work as an educator and researcher, with a focus in the areas of child development, holistic education, trauma-informed practice, arts and healing, 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 and held the position of State Director of RI Department of Children, Youth and Families. Currently, DeFrances is an instructional coach for Southside Elementary Charter School and grant writer for St. Mary’s Home for Children.


MLA, Harvard University

BA, Brown University

Nadine Gerdts

Senior Critic

Nadine Gerdts explores the cultural and environmental dynamics of urban landscapes through her research, design and academic practices. A senior critic and lecturer at RISD since 1995, she addresses contemporary issues in landscape and urbanism through interdisciplinary studios and seminars that link social, cultural and environmental issues to design. She has worked extensively with youth in urban public schools and with neighborhood organizations on projects that strengthen the livability of cities.

Gerdts has directed such interdisciplinary projects as the Public Health + Public Space Initiative focused on the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence and InsideOut Studio developing site-specific design projects with teens and youth in Boston and Providence public schools. Her current research projects include Lines of Equity – Post-Industrial Urban Corridors, a study of bicycle use and neighborhood transformation, and Beyond Borders: Urban Futures, a collaboration at the intersection of design, planning, climate science and technology with partners at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Alnarp, supported with a Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education, STINT Initiation Grant. Locally, she is a member of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects K-12 Outreach Committee working to connect kids and landscape and serves annually as a reviewer for the Boston Arts Academy Visual Arts Department senior portfolio reviews. 

Gerdts’ early work was instrumental in securing permanent open space legislation protecting urban gardens in Boston’s South End and Roxbury neighborhoods, where she was director of community design with Boston Urban Gardeners. As a Fulbright researcher in the Nordic countries, she developed a deep interest in public landscapes and neighborhood fabric. She advocates for citizen-based projects promoting innovation in the civic realm and as the appointed chair of her town’s citizen tree board has helped with the oversight of the community’s urban forest of more than 50,000 trees.


MFA, Yale University

CAGS, Lesley University

BFA, The University of the Arts 


Kristina Lamour Sansone


Kristina Lamour Sansone's own learning challenges led her to find refuge in graphic design, a communication process that connects pictures and words in one simultaneous language.  For over three decades, Sansone has built bridges between graphic design, teaching and learning, creating applications to support access, engagement and comprehension across the lifespan in schools of early to adult learning.  More about Sansone's work can be found on her website link, which is shown in the caption below her photo.