Maharam Fellow Fights for Incarcerated Youth


Bianca Diaz 13 IL was deeply disheartened to learn about the shockingly high rate of sexual assaults that occur in the unwatched corners of Illinois juvenile prisons. The US Justice Department estimates that more than 15 percent of its inmates report abuse by staff members – an alarming statistic that many find simply unacceptable.

This summer the new graduate decided to take action. With support from a Maharam STEAM Fellowship in Applied Art and Design, Diaz teamed up with Project NIA – an advocacy center in Chicago that facilitates the creation of community-focused responses to youth violence and crime. Last month she took the fight to the streets of the Windy City by leading a silent protest advocating for the closure of Illinois’ juvenile prisons. In a show of solidarity, participants wore red and stuck thick packing tape over their mouths. 

Before her internship ends in a couple of weeks, Diaz will finalize an illustrated children’s book to delicately address family issues that arise when a member is incarcerated. She hopes it will become a valuable resource to build supportive relationships between parents and their children.

Interested in learning more about the great work done this summer by RISD’s Maharam Fellows? See updates on their projects on the Maharam STEAM Fellows blog!

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