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Riding High

Sophomore Nina Ripich 18 PT finds solace and creative freedom by connecting with horses in RISD’s equestrian club.

Riding High

Sophomore Nina Ripich 18 PT loves horses and the outdoors and is currently working on a project inspired by the Old West.

As a young girl growing up in Cleveland, OH, Nina Ripich 18 PT started dreaming of coming to RISD when she first learned about it from her artist grandmother. But despite feeling surrounded by supportive and like-minded artists, she hit a few bumps in the fall of 2014 – her first semester here.

Struggling to feel grounded, Ripich had the good sense to reach out to RISD’s counselors, whom she found to be “a great resource,” she says. “When I was feeling lost, they were there to help get me back to my true self.”

Nina Ripich, An Evening Under the Western Sky - Park City, Utah

By the beginning of spring semester, Ripich had the confidence to choose Painting as her major – a medium in which she had no previous experience. “I’ve always had a sense of adventure,” she says, “and pretty much everyone in my section was new to painting, so we were all in it together.”

Ripich appreciates the disciplinary fluidity in the Painting department, where she’s not limited to working exclusively with traditional paint, but is encouraged to experiment with photography, textiles, furniture design and more. “I’m currently working on a project inspired by the Old West,” she says. “When I recently joined RISD’s new equestrian club, I started thinking about artists of the past heading out on horseback and discovering scenery they’d never seen before. So I’m trying to put myself in their shoes.”

"I started thinking about artists of the past heading out on horseback and discovering scenery they'd never seen before. I'm trying to put myself in their shoes."
Nina Ripich 18 PT

Getting off campus to ride has been a great way to combat stress, Ripich adds. “When you connect with these animals,” she says, “you really forget about everything else and feel free.”

Another early source of inspiration was The Woven Rug, a Textiles studio Ripich took last year during Wintersession. “It was all about color,” she explains. “The studio walls are covered in spools of color-coded thread, and you just react to the different materials and create a color scheme for your rug.” After falling in love with the process, she even bought her own loom, she says.

This year Ripich went home over Wintersession to work as an intern at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she had taken her first art classes as a kid. “There’s a lot of freedom to set up an internship or an independent study,” she notes. “The Painting department is really open to that.” This summer she’s hoping to stay on campus and work as a teaching assistant in a RISD course. She’s also already looking ahead, hoping to spend a semester in Rome with the European Honors Program during her senior year. “There are so many options,” she says, “so many doors that RISD opens.”

"There are so many options, so many doors that RISD opens."

Ripich looks forward to walking through as many doors as she can before graduation. And looking back on Foundation year, she has no regrets. “Yes, Foundation year is intense, but it’s intense for a reason,” she maintains. “Being in this environment and seeing what other students are working on and how they really go all out helps you develop your own work in amazing ways. Everybody is driven by different passions, but what connects us is this inner need to make things.”

Simone Solondz / photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH

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