Smile Politely

WorkSpace: Preetika Rajgariah

Welcome back to WorkSpace, a series featuring an inside look at the places where local artists and creatives roll up their sleeves and take care of business. Today, we are going to see the work of Preetika Rajgariah she is a second year MFA candidate at UIUC. Her work explores themes of migration, diaspora, and cultural identity specifically referencing her upbringing as an Indian born American who grew up in Houston. TX. Recently, the work has taken form in textile and fabric works that raise the larger questions of the complicated relationships of colonialism and nationalism.

Smile Politely: When and how did you decide to become an artist?

Preetika Rajgariah: Growing up, art was always a hobby of mine – my aunt painted recreationally and I remember always viewing her as a role model. At the end of my sophomore year in college as a pre-med student, I finally got to take my first art class in college. It was then that I realized that marking art could be more than just a hobby for me. I changed my major at the end of that semester and signed up to study art abroad in Italy that summer. Never looked back!

SP: What or who are your influences?

Rajgariah: I am influenced a lot by my culture growing up – patterns, textiles, colors are all things I was heavily surrounded by as a kid. As far as contemporary artists go, I really enjoy looking at the works of Ebony Patterson, Do Ho Suh, Rajni Perera, El Anatsui, and Nick Cave (to name a few!).


SP: Who would you like to collaborate with and why?

Rajgariah: I am in the process of collaborating with artist Lovie Olivia back at home in Houston. We address a lot of the same issues in our work but take a very different approach at the same time- it is proving to be a very thought provoking and beneficial experience!

SP: Tell us about your workspace.

Rajgariah: I love my studio here at UIUC’s south studios.

SP: Choose a piece of your artwork and explain it in detail.

Rajgariah: My piece Nationalist, depicts a glittered American Eagle logo on top of a flag-sized silk. The logo is representative of a brand that profits from the use of fabric and cheap labor in India. A problematic feature of capitalism is the abstraction of labor from the process required to make a product into the manufactured good. This aspect of capitalism and the unavoidable nature of participating in it is what interests me.

SP: What movie would you recommend to watch and why? 

Rajgariah: Amelie – just because it’s a charming film with a really creative story line and a neat cinematic style

SP: What is your favorite spot in C-U?

Rajgariah: Meadowbrook Park to walk my pup! 

SP: What do you think about the art scene in C-U?

Rajgariah: Super friendly and welcoming, which was really great since I have moved across the country!

SP: Where, when and how can we see your work?

Rajgariah: Billboard on Neil St. headed towards Savoy is a start!


Instagram @prajgariah

About the author: Jimena Oliver

Jimena is a photographer at Smile Politely. Find more of her work and photographs online:


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