Balancing Act

Balancing Act

Kathryn LaMontagne 18 TX is fully engaged in both her studio work and the campus community.

“What I got out of Foundation year was that attitude of being unashamedly all in all the time,” says sophomore Kathryn LaMontagne 18 TX. “That willingness to throw yourself into the work comes from the teaching here and from the community itself.”

Although both of her parents are painters and her older sister (Mariah LaMontagne 13 IL) graduated from RISD, LaMontagne was totally drawn to writing in high school and expected to go to a liberal arts college. But as she got into silkscreening t-shirts, she started seriously considering art school instead. When she applied and got accepted to RISD, the choice was clear—and during Foundation year, she quickly confirmed that Textiles was the way to go.

“I took a Wintersession class last year in silkscreening,” she recalls, “and we did some dyeing and made these huge, beautiful pieces with really big repeats. It was so gratifying! My friends were freaking out about choosing a major, but I was all set.”

LaMontagne says that she met a lot of her RISD friends before school even started, when she came to campus early to volunteer for the POSE (Pre-Orientation Service Experience) program. “It sounds corny, but I really do like helping people, and I met amazing people in that program—people who continue to be some of my closest friends.”

Last September LaMontagne once again arrived on campus early, this time to train as a Resident Advisor. She also works at the student-run Carr Haus café and is involved in planning popular student events such as the Artists Ball and Take a Break. “We do a lot of fun little events that build community,” she says. “I think it’s important to balance your workload with healthy social relationships. The holy trinity is having a social life, getting enough sleep and doing well in school. And having good friends really helps get you through the tough stuff, like crits. Yes, there’s a lot of competition at RISD, but it’s mostly competition with yourself—pushing yourself to be better.”

LaMontagne says that crits—tough as they can be—provide some of the most important feedback she gets as an artist. “The professors here are really experienced,” she notes, “and they give you a lot of different perspectives on your work. It’s nice to be around people who are so good.”

Although she’s not thrilled about every assignment, LaMontagne says that in the end, she does learn from every assignment. “It comes down to caring about what you’re doing,” she explains. “And being grumpy about [a particular assignment] is not productive at all. The sooner you can get over it, the sooner you can get something out of it.”

LaMontagne still loves literature and writing and is planning to do a concentration in Literary Arts + Studies. She’s also part of a spoken word poetry group at Brown, where she has made a lot of friends. “I went a lot last year,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity to be in a roomful of people sharing work and supporting each other. They are always so welcoming and nice.”

Looking back at the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, LaMontagne laughs as she recalls comparing notes with her sister back home. “We really bonded whining about crits,” she says, “and about sneezing out a mass of black charcoal dust after a long night in the studio. That’s a unifying RISD experience!”

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