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The Art of Choosing a Major

Bright and airy, Beardsley Hall provides creative space for art students, including Kelsey Rico ’16, the department’s second studio artist to graduate with a special major in architectural design. 

Her small studio is filled with lamps made from pieces of finely cut wood, a walnut-slab tabletop, and a rubber mold she made to create plaster wall art. Breathtaking pictures of buildings cling to the walls. 

Her art is inspiring, but the path she’s crafted to get here may be more so.

At Swarthmore, undecided on a study track, Rico took linguistics, math, engineering, and biology classes before her life-changing encounter with art and professors like Logan Grider and Randall Exon.

“From early in her career here, Kelsey expressed a particular interest in, and basic understanding of, the ways in which a study in the fine arts can be good preparation for a career in the applied arts,” Exon says.

“Kelsey excelled,” says Grider. “She frequently explored beyond the boundaries of her knowledge and pushed further than the requirements of the assignments.”

A semester in Denmark, including trips to Sweden and Finland, introduced her to architecture and determined her path, in which she plans to pursue a graduate degree in design.

“I’m interested in architectural details,” she says, “like a building’s unique elements that are so small not everyone would notice.”

She’s found that her appreciation for these intricacies is possible because of Swarthmore’s wide-ranging approach.

“I love the liberal arts, and looking at architecture from an art perspective has been enriching,” she says. “Each class and experience pointed me in the new direction I finally chose.”