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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.

wolfgang bio pic.jpeg

Ph.D., The Ohio State University

MA, University of Georgia

BFA, University of Georgia

Courtnie Wolfgang

Associate Professor

Dr. Courtnie Wolfgang's research and practice focus on the intersections of post-structural, feminist and queer theories with critical and radical pedagogies in and through art and design. During her 20-year career as an arts educator, she has taught high school visual art in public schools; conducted community/art education workshops and arts-based workshops with incarcerated juveniles and adults; developed arts education programming for communities in need, transition or crisis; and amassed 11 years of experience in higher education working with future artist educators.  

Wolfgang's artistic practice includes monotype and risograph printing, zine making/

collaborative small publications and garnet making and textiles.  The majority of her life and career has been spent in the Deep South of the United States, which fundamentally shaped her perspectives on equity and justice in arts and education.  She earned her BFA in photography and MA in art education at the University of Georgia, and a PhD in art and visual culture education at The Ohio State University.

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.

2021 RISD TLAD Faculty Nancy Friese.JPG

MFA, Yale University

BS, University of North Dakota

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.


DeFrances 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.


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.


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.

MLA, Harvard University

BA, Brown University

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 Emeritus

Dr. Sproll led RISD’s Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD) for nearly three decades and spearheaded its move to the Division of Liberal Arts. His professional work as a teacher educator centered on developing a progressive paradigm for curricular and pedagogical practice that deepened learners' understanding of the nature of art & design as conveyors of meaning. Throughout his career, a central focus has been articulating inquiry-based teaching practices that promote discovery, creativity, innovation, personal voice, and play.  In June 2021, Dr. Sproll was presented with RISD's John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award recognizes RISD faculty who have had an enduring influence on student learning.

Professor Sproll’s longstanding commitment to engaged practice within K-12 contexts was inextricably linked to his college teaching. Throughout his career, he maintained an enduring interest in matters of social justice and access to education and displayed a passion for work at the intersection of formal and informal education. Dr. Sproll dismayed by the inequities regarding students' access to quality visual arts programming throughout Rhode Island's urban core city public schools led him in 2005 to found RISD Project Open Door - a college access program for creative teens attending the State’s most under-resourced public high schools.   In 2015, the non-profit Providence CityArts for Youth recognized Professor Sproll's community-based practice with its Sister Ann Keefe Award for Creativity and Social Justice. His programming designed for K-12 educators and students attracted significant governmental and philanthropic grant support totaling over $2 million. Further, his expertise in reimagining curriculum, pedagogy, and policies for art and design education within elementary and secondary schools led to numerous consultancy opportunities, including travel to Qatar, where he co-authored a set of guiding principles for the establishment of a high school for the visual arts and design in Doha.  Dr. Sproll retired from RISD as Professor Emeritus and Director of Project Open Door on July 1st, 2022.

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