“It all began at Graham Hill Elementary School in southeast Seattle, when my third-grade teacher, Ms. Horita, told my parents at a parent-teacher conference that I was good at two things: math and art. My father, a Japanese immigrant, owned and operated a tofu store for 27 years in the Chinatown International District. The day after the meeting, he proudly announced to one of his tofu customers: ‘John is good at math.’

At the time, it signaled something to me that he left out the art part; I just didn’t know what. In hindsight, it was my first experience of the prejudices that cling to accomplishments in the arts, and a catalyst for me to push for the power of interdisciplinary thinking.”

-Rhode Island School of Design president John Maeda, writing in his recent Seattle Times op-ed on the RISD-led “STEM to STEAM” initiative to add Art and Design to the national agenda of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and research in America. Maeda and the initiative will be honored next Friday in NYC with a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award.