Philosophy and Form

Philosophy and Form

Ipek Karaoglu BArch 16 arrived on campus with the intention of majoring in Architecture and quickly developed a keen and growing interest in theory and criticism. Before long she opted to organize that interest through a concentration in the History of Art + Visual Culture (HAVC). “My goal,” says the Turkish student, “is to finish the five-year architecture program and then go to grad school for museum studies and art history. Eventually I hope to go into designing museum spaces —especially in cultural centers like Istanbul, where the arts community is growing every day.”

Karaoglu spent the summer working at an architecture firm in Turkey, where she learned first-hand just how collaborative the design process is in the world of architecture, something she’s happy to be experiencing in RISD studios, too. “You’re never an architect by yourself,” she says. “It’s wonderful to work with other people in studio, especially here where the grad students are so willing to help.”

She also values RISD’s “huge international community,” noting that with “professors and students from Latin America, Europe, Asia and all over you get a broad variety of cultural ideas and opportunities.”

Beyond the inspiration she draws from fellow students working in the Bayard Ewing Building, Karaoglu says some of the most unexpected learning opportunities have taken place in liberal arts classes. Take Danielle Carrabino’s course Methodologies of Art and Visual Culture, for instance, and Inside the Museum, co-taught by Assistant Professor Daniel Harkett and Deborah Wilde, associate educator of academic programs at the RISD Museum.

“We talk about how museum spaces affect the way we move, communicate and think about art—how the setting changes our mood or the way we perceive the art,” Karaoglu says. These concepts go hand in hand with the theories she’s studying in her architecture classes, providing a different way of looking at the same ideas. “When I apply these principals in my architecture projects, I have a kind of ‘aha’ moment,” she says.

Karaoglu is looking forward to an HAVC Museum Fellowship next spring with Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art Dominic Molon. “It’s a huge opportunity,” she says. “I’ll be reaching out to artists and helping the museum to build up its collection of contemporary art pieces.”

Part of what motivates Karaoglu to make the most of every opportunity at RISD is the support and availability of her professors. “RISD teachers—people like [Lecturer] Ian Baldwin and [Assistant Professor] Nathan King—take you to galleries and welcome you into their lives,” she says. “In Turkey there is always a formal boundary you can’t cross with teachers, and that affects learning. The RISD environment allows every type of student to blossom.”

Simone Solondz

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