Rishika is very active as an ally in the blind and visually impaired community, collaborating closely with the National Federation of the Blind, Colorado Center for the Blind, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and several other organizations focused on tactile art and museum accessibility, including her own grant-funded initiatives, Touch and Create Studios and Vision of the Artist's Soul. At Brown, along with creating an independent concentration, Disability Design, she is developing an independent study on “Blindness, Arts and Media” and is working with classmates on a research grant, “Constructing Illness: Critical Perspectives on the Medical Model of Disability." She is chief arts coordinator for Brown Arts for Politics, an executive board member of Disability Justice at Brown and a member of the Brown-RISD accessible design team.
I've always been an independent thinker. I learn best when I'm directing my own learning for something that has a tangible impact. I chose Early Decision because Brown was one of the few schools that let me truly take charge of what I wanted to see of my own education.
The process of creating an independent concentration really appeals to me because, to get it approved, you need to explain the rationale for what classes you're taking, what projects you're doing, and that makes you really intentional about the choices that you make.
Professors are really supportive of you breaking the molds and putting your own interest into existing projects. I haven't made a single rectangular piece of art, I think, in my 2D Visual Arts 100 class. The project-based approach in Pathology to Power: Disability, Health and Community exemplifies Brown’s creative learning philosophy. For our final, students create a disability advocacy campaign or event on campus, which has increased accessibility at Brown and within the larger Providence community.
The Curriculum Resource Center is a really great resource for telling you about internships, opportunities, even just how to navigate classes. One thing I learned from the CRC when I was talking about my independent concentration was about the ability to create an independent study or independent class. Throughout my four years, it's my ultimate goal to go from a receiver of knowledge to a producer of one, and to share what I love with other people.
Art design and disability justice is inherently interdisciplinary, and a lot of the gaps that I've noticed come from a lack of understanding between disciplines. Bridging together different disciplines that already exist at Brown will really allow me to synthesize those areas in a way that would benefit what I'm trying to do.