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RHS Graduate, Karina Garbarini, Achieves Childhood Dream of Attending the #1 Art School in America


The Rhode Island School of Design, most commonly known as RISD, is one of the world’s most prestigious institutions for Art education. The college is ranked by Niche as the #1 Art School in America and nearly all of the college’s programs and specialties have been ranked in the top 5 by U.S. News and World Report. Class of 2020 alumna Karina Garbarini has been in love with art since she was a child. She vividly remembers doodling in sketchbooks and making hand drawn cards for friends as early as Kindergarten. As she grew up, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in art and Karina decided at a young age that RISD was the best choice for her post graduate plans. Through hard work, dedication, and perseverance Karina made her dream possible. She was accepted to the world-renowned college where she will study this fall.


“RISD has been a dream school of mine since I was 14 years old when I first heard about it. I’m in love with the campus and the location. They are known for pushing their students to create amazing work and their employment/career counseling and resources are phenomenal,” Karina said. “I appreciated that the RISD student body was full of students who valued art and the humanities just as much as I do, who deeply think about what they create, and who are using their art to build a better world."


She plans on becoming an animator because, in her words, it will allow her "to create art for things that are making a positive impact on the world and communities that she is a part of.” Karina had the opportunity to take an animation course at Parson’s School of Design last summer which help further ignite her passion for the medium. In this course, she created a series of sequential loops set to a very important song in her life, “Thank You” by Florist. In total, the video has over 160 individual pencil and ink drawings. “It was something that pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn so much about the animation process, movement, editing, and allowed me to explore a different kind of personal style that was unique to me,” Karina said.


Karina describes her art as “vibrant, personal, and symbolic.” She creates work with an established purpose and hopes to instill deeper meaning through her pieces. Her favorite medium to use when she is creating her next work is colored pencil. The tools allow her to focus on finer details such as layering different colors to achieve different undertones or textures. She is constantly challenging herself as an artist by pushing herself to create work that excites or makes her feel uncomfortable. “If I’m working on a piece that doesn’t evoke any sort of joy or discomfort, I know that it most likely will not turn out the way that I want it to,” Karina said. “I also challenge myself by trying to constantly be receptive to constructive criticism. Although difficult sometimes, it’s the only way to truly grow and develop as an artist and a person.”


She draws her artistic inspiration from her own emotions and experiences happening in her life. From conversations she has had to music she has listened to, she strives to portray her feelings through her artwork. Her art imitates life, and she is gravitated towards pieces that depict people in interesting and intimate ways. Karina believes strongly that art can be found everywhere and she also has confidence that anyone can be an artist. “There are so many different types of art and so many different ways that people understand it. To me it is a universal language, something incredibly personal and yet deeply universal at the same time,” Karina said. “It allows me to express myself and to depict feelings that I find difficult to put into words. Through creating, I allow myself not only to express my feelings but to also process them and truly understand them as well. It’s very therapeutic to me.”


At the end of the school year, Karina shared one of her pieces “Isn’t it So Amazing” with Randolph Middle School students and wished them well in their artistic journeys. The piece was developed as part of her college application process to create a response to a phenomenon in nature. She struggled at first to find inspiration for her piece, but finally conceived an idea. “One day in September after a particularly stressful day at school and work, I decided to lay in the grass in my backyard and just stare at the sky for a while. I instantly felt better and was surrounded by a sort of gratitude for everything that I was experiencing and everything that I had,” Karina said. “Inspired by that moment, this piece is meant to be an affirmation to myself that I am exactly where I am meant to be; that I am lucky to be alive and experience life. This was also a way to fit it into my AP 2D Art and Design portfolio, which focused on my complex relationship with suburbia and Randolph specifically. It’s a reminder that home can exist anywhere, and that despite any sort of negativity around me, I am surrounded by love and goodness.”


Karina was a member of the Marching Rams and played the flute all 4 years of high school. She was also a member of the Bridges Club, Speech and Debate, National Social Studies Honors Society, National French Honors Society, and National Art Honors Society where she was President her senior year. During her time at RHS, she felt free to be herself in her music and visual arts programs. It was within these programs that she found lifelong friends and had some of the most important moments of her high school career. She credits her teachers Mr. Lonie and Mrs. Ingenito for being so supportive. “They were always there for me and had a major impact on my personal development and growth. My time at RHS would have been incredibly different without them,” Karina said. “My favorite class at RHS was probably AP 2D Art and Design with Mrs. Ingenito. I learned so much about my art practice and the type of art that I want to create within that class, and some of my closest friends were creating amazing work right next to me every day.”


Although Karina will now embark on a new chapter, she has learned a lot from her experiences at Randolph. “I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that kindness and friendship will always be better than competition and putting people down,” Karina said. “It’s been important for me to remember that everyone wants to be happy and that everyone might be going through something that no one knows about. Rather than putting yourself or others down in the name of competition, collaboration and mutual respect will always be more impactful.” Karina went on to give advice to future generations of students. “Always focus on yourself and the people who you know are your friends first. Even though it’s important to study, work hard, and have ambitious goals, your happiness and mental health should always be a top priority. Don’t worry about what other people think of you and strive to be the most authentic version of yourself every day. Take advantage of this time that you have to try new things, make mistakes, and appreciate change and growth instead of being scared of it! Everything will work out the way it’s meant to in the end.”


Congratulations Karina and best wishes to you as you begin your next chapter at RISD.