Understanding Patterns

Understanding Patterns

Monica Ogrodowski 09 TX is a prime example of why certain RISD students are compelled to complement a studio major with a concentration in History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences (HPSS). Although she chose to come here to pursue her passion for textiles and the arts, her abiding interest in political science never waned.

Majoring in Textiles at RISD, Ogrodowski “discovered a source of inexhaustible inspiration” in her Polish heritage, referencing everything from photos of the destruction of Warsaw during World War II to traditional Polish folk costumes and embroidery. During her junior year, she was drawn to studying more about post-Communist Eastern Europe, which led to an independent study project her senior year and an HPSS concentration focused on History and Politics in a Postcolonial World. Her interest in Eastern Europe also led her to apply for and win a 2009–10 Fulbright to study the art of Polish textiles in Lodz, Poland.

In spring 2010, as Ogrodowski’s exhilarating year in Eastern Europe began to draw to a close she realized that despite her new knowledge about textiles, she still felt the pull of politics. So HPSS faculty member Andrew Savchenko, who has long encouraged her interest in the history, economy and politics of the region, suggested that his former student look into the MIREES program (Master’s in Interdisciplinary Research and Eastern Europe Studies) at the University of Bologna.

Now that she’s pursuing that two-year program in Italy, Ogrodowski says she has thought long and hard about how and why she wants to be both a textile artist and a political scientist. “For me, it comes down to a desire to understand patterns,” she says. “On the surface one is visual, while the other belongs to the realm of the abstract and theoretical. But it’s actually not quite so black-and-white. And it is visual culture that allows us to understand how societies process political, social and economic events, as well as how society itself shapes these events.”

For more on how Monica Ogrodowski views the world, check out her blog, The Art in Political Thought.

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