Oral History Interview with Merlin Szasz, June 4, 2009 & August 31, 2011

Oral History Interview with Merlin Szasz, June 4, 2009 & August 31, 2011


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Interview of Merlin Szasz, conducted by Andrew Martinez at the studio of Thomas Sgouros, Thomas Street, Providence, RI, and Szasz’s studio in Central Falls, MA on June 4, 2009 and August 31, 2011 for the RISD Oral History Project. Szasz speaks of his experience as a student at Cranbrook and his experiences teaching at RISD for many years in the Sculpture and Industrial Design departments. Szasz also recalls working under Presidents Lee Hall and Roger Mandle and the different relationships between RISD faculty and administration along with colleagues, such as Tage Frid, Ken Hunnibell, John (Jack) Prip and John Bozarth. Additional questions by Peter O'Neill and Thomas Sgouros.

Biographical/Historical Note

Merlin Szasz (1936-2013) was a sculptor and metalist who taught and served as Associate Dean of the College and Provost at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1960-1976, when he was promoted to Professor of Foundation Studies. He created commemorative medals for the university and some of his sculptures can be found at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in West Warwick, RI and the Providence Performing Arts Center. Szasz served on numerous RISD boards while volunteering as Acting Fire Chief in Foster, RI. He received a Baccalaureate in Education from Bowling Green State University in 1958 and an MFA in Sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1960.

Szasz is interviewed by Andrew Martinez, Archivist at the Rhode Island School of Design, on June 6, 2009 and August 31, 2011.

Oral History Interview with Merlin Szasz, June 4, 2009 & August 31, 2011



Date of Interview



Andrew Martinez


Merlin Szasz


Experimental and Foundation Studies

Run Time

164 min.

Original Format(s)



Foundation Studies, Sculpture, Samuel Hershey, Cranbrook, John Frazier, Gilbert Franklin, Figure Modeling, Industrial Design, Tage Frid, Jack Prip, Ken Hunnibell, Gourmet Club, Edna Lawrence, RISD Museum, Bauhaus, Sophomore Design, Lee Hall, Bayard Ewing, Don Lay, Roger Mandle, strategic plan, Beaux Arts, John Maeda, John Bozarth, Harry Callahan, Mystic Seaport, Danny Danforth, Danny Robbins, Dieter Roth, Chain of Office, Athena Award, Rehoboth


Art and Design