January 04, 2012 - When most college students take the opportunity to study abroad, they usually spend most of their time learning about a specific country's historical sites and culture.
Kelsey Rosenhauer, a 2008 OHS grad, will spend four months in India learning about the textile industry.
Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
Kelsey Rosenhauer, a 2008 Oxford High School graduate, is taking a different approach to overseas schooling – she will be spending the next four months in India mastering the textile industry.
A textile is a cloth or woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers often referred as thread or yarn.
Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting or pressing fibres together.
"The dress I'm wearing (in the photo), it was probably done by a machine, but somebody had to design this and sit down and figure out how everything fit together," she said.
Rosenhauer, a junior at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, said the overseas trip to India was a requirement in order for her to graduate.
After carefully researching her options, she decided on an exchange program through the Shristi School of Art, Design and Technology in India.
"I've always been fascinated by the diversity and the culture," Rosenhauer admitted when asked why she chose to study in India. "India has 20 states, and each state has its own entity, so that is kind of interesting to me."
She leaves for India on Thursday, Jan. 5.
According to Rosenhauer, the program she is entering exclusively focuses on textiles. She will be attending Shristi for six days a week, Monday through Saturday for four months.
"I will be able to study textiles in depth the way I wouldn't have here," she said. "They will teach me all kinds of techniques, like natural dying techniques...things that are traditionally and historically sound in their culture that we don't have over here."
She said most textiles are imported from India and China. "We are kind of adapting what we can learn from them, but I don't think a lot of people have been taught by Indians," she explained. "We just kind of observe what they have made and try and figure it out."
Rosenhauer noted she began liking textiles during a course at Michigan called "Tools, Materials and Processes." During the course, each student makes one project from all seven School of Design art studios.
She said she was really good at fibers, so she decided to pursue it further. Earlier this year, she won an $800 grant from the School of Art and Design for a dress she made.
Before attending Michigan's School of Art and Design, Rosenhauer attended University of Michigan Flint. She switched to Michigan's North Campus after realizing she wanted to go into art.
She noted other schools, like Grand Valley Art School or College of Creative Studies, make you choose a specific major in art and design.
She chose Michigan's program because "they are conceptual."
"You don't ever have to choose an actual major in art and design, you are always an art and design major, either a BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts)," she said. "From there, you take your required classes, and then you have the freedom to build your own degree and choose what you want to take."
Rosenhauer said she was working on her BFA.
She noted the big difference between the two degrees was the BFA's independent project throughout her senior year.
"The difference between a Bachelors of Fine Arts and a Bachelors of Arts is a Bachelor of Arts, they take some studio art credits where you are actually making work, but they have more academic requirements," she said. "So (in the) BFA, I don't have as many academic requirements and I have more studio art requirements, and that is a lot of work, but I am making more art."
Upon graduation, Rosenhauer isn't exactly sure what she wants to do.
"I really consider myself (as an) entrepreneur of sorts, so essentially expanding what I do now, which is making artwear and wools, and really...exploring every opportunity given to me," she said.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.