Seeing that graduation was just a few weeks ago, I wanted to highlight a recent FIT graduate. Going to a school with so many talented people can make it difficult to choose someone to write about. But, for me this was an easy decision. I wanted to showcase someone who illuminates, not just through their work, but through their words and interaction with others. I met Leesa in my social psychology class, and ended up working on a group project titled “Gender Norms: To Conform or To Stray,” which was about just that, who challenges gender norms and when. We went to the village together one night to conduct our “field study,” which basically means we got to go be creeps at the several bars on a Saturday evening to see if people abide by their designated gender behavior. We wanted to see if queer identified people took on some of the heteronormative behaviors of the straight counterparts, so we went two gays and two straight bars and observed. Leesa was totally chill in this totally crowded gay bar with gays taking off items of clothing to get free drinks, and that’s when I knew Leesa was a special girl.
Besides being accepting and welcoming of all types of type, she’s a creator of stunning work that is reflective of her culture, experiences and most importantly, her soul. Below is a photo of just part of her senior thesis project that was displayed in the Art & Design Graduating Student Exhibition. Unfortunately, it’s not the entire piece, which was composed of two giant rugs and a huge center colorful and impressive ornamentation that suggested a relation to a flower that tied the entire piece together. She explains that the rugs are significant because they padded her reality. With her father having a rug store and with rugs that often spilled into her home, she grew up in a rug world! Besides rugs just existing, they provided a spiritual safe haven for her aunt and grandmother who prayed on these expressive rugs. Because of these rugs she became interested in Islamic art and architecture. From her studies she learned about the Garden of Eden that was often referenced in these rug motifs. Religion, stars, flowers, and rugs are important factors in Leesa’s audacious work.
Because of Leesa I may never look at a rug the same again. On a personal note, thank you for being so kind to me this semester!
All things Color, Love, & Fashion,