University of St. Thomas senior Ellie Patronas is a 2024 Fulbright U.S. Student Program semifinalist. She hopes to use the Fulbright opportunity to fulfill her dream of studying urban art in Greece.
Fulbright is an international, cultural and educational exchange program that gives students the opportunity to achieve their academic goals, while also allowing them to learn about other cultures through its work to increase mutual understanding between the American people and those of other countries.
Patronas, studying business law and compliance with minors in American culture, difference and art history, acquired a fascination with cultural and political street art after joining Urban art mapping during his second year. The St. Thomas research project aims to document, archive and map graffiti on a global scale, specifically Street art which explores issues of political and social justice. Through her involvement in Urban Art Mapping, Patronas has learned valuable skills for research, such as ethnography, interviewing and scientific writing, in addition to gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of research and study of street art.
“Ellie is brimming with curiosity about the world, and that goes a long way to strengthening our work together as a research team,” said Dr. Heather Shirey, one of Urban Art Mapping’s faculty leads. “She has a unique ability to bring people together and create trust and openness with the artists and community members who collaborate with us. Ellie is the ideal candidate for a Fulbright research project.
Patronas’ experience studying global street art in Urban Art Mapping, as well as her independent research analyzing social justice street art across the United States, were motivating factors in her decision to apply for the Fulbright scholarship.
“Inspired by the resilience and cultural impact of Greek refugees, I want to understand the role urban art plays in helping refugees and immigrants develop a sense of belonging and cultural identity in a foreign country,” Patronas explained. “My proposed project, “Transcultural Expressions: Exploring Migration through Urban Art,” seeks to explore the possibilities of making urban landscapes more inclusive for refugee and immigrant populations through visual arts by analyzing the Street art, graffiti and murals on the streets of Athens, Greece. .”
If selected, Patronas will conduct her research in Athens examining the socio-political landscape of the refugee, learning about the history of graffiti culture, collaborating with various art and volunteer initiatives, documenting street art and murals related to refugees and creating a final research. article to present its conclusions.
Patronas believes his research findings can be useful in informing city planners, government officials and citizens about how street art can provide a sense of inclusion and community. She would work with the Refugee Week Greece initiative, academics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens of the Department of Global Health and Disaster Medicine to learn from a diverse group of perspectives, while immersing herself in the community from Athens.
“During my time in Greece, I aim to acclimate to the deepest roots of my identity as a Greek American while using my extensive academic training and unwavering curiosity to explore street art as a method of display stories of refugees on the walls of Athens. , Greece. Becoming a Fulbright Scholar is imperative because it will broaden my view of academia, work with a community that I would not otherwise have the chance to do, and help further establish myself as a scholar in the field.
The Fulbright US Student Program is sponsored by the U.S. government and takes place outside the United States after graduation for students with a bachelor’s degree or while enrolled in a graduate degree. Since Fulbright’s inception in 1946, St. Thomas has selected 22 students for the program. The University of St. Thomas encourages students and alumni interested in applying for Fulbright to learn more about the scholarship by visiting OneStThomas.