Donor Recognition

Joan Netherwood ’77 (Photography BFA)

SPOTLIGHT ON PHILANTHROPY: The Netherwood/Riser Memorial Scholarship for Photography

Joan Netherwood’s  ties and love for MICA were deep and long-lasting. From the early 1960s to 1976, she worked as a fundraiser for the College. When she “left” her job the following year, it was to pursue her passion for photography as a full-time student—at MICA. Along the way, she met her future husband, Paul, in a jewelry-making class on campus. The two of them attended many showings together, made numerous friends, and remained active at MICA throughout their 53-year-marriage.

Joan and Paul Netherwood

In the late 1970s, Joan—along with fellow MICA alumni and women photographers Linda Rich and Elinor Cahn—completed an extensive, multi-year photography project that poignantly captured the intimate, daily lives of East Baltimore families. As Joan explained to curator John P. Jacob:

“I think that because we were women, it was easier to get into the homes. One lady asked me in and I told her she should be very careful about who she allowed to come into her home. She assured me that she was a good judge of character and she knew I was okay. We started by going to the churches, introducing ourselves and letting everyone know what we were doing. Once we had images we gave work prints to everyone we photographed. We built a display stand and put up small exhibits in churches and Senior Citizen Halls.”

The powerful images captured by Joan and her partners were exhibited throughout Baltimore soon after they were taken, later collected in the “Neighborhood: A State of Mind” book, and displayed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in the fall of 2021. Sadly, Joan, the last survivor of the pioneering trio, passed away in February of the same year.

Long before her passing, Joan had informally become the “adopted daughter” of Col. George Riser and his wife, Nikki. Col. Riser was a 38-year military veteran who served throughout the world and received the Purple Heart in World War II. When George passed away in 1990, he bequeathed his waterfront home to Joan. Knowing that George regretted not doing more philanthropy during his lifetime, Joan always felt that the house should be donated to MICA upon her death. The Netherwood/Riser Scholarship for Photography was generously funded and endowed by the sale of this home, and is a tribute to their legacies, their friendship, and Joan’s commitment to the College.

Paul Netherwood and Joan’s entire family wish the best to all the photography students who will benefit from the scholarship.

To make a contribution in honor of Joan, click here.

Interested in establishing your own named scholarship? Contact Giselle Piqué in MICA’s Advancement office at 410.225.2414 /