Pitch for Final Project: Studio 2

Because the fashion industry pollutes the earth and violates human rights more than almost any other industry, it is important to come up with business models that embody an ethical approach.

In seminar I will be examining how fashion and business should incorporate activism to create a better world. My imaginary business, Radical Empathy, enhances and works WITH local economies rather than exploiting or ignoring them.

For my final project in Studio I will be releasing a line of corsets and possibly other garments. This concept is inspired by two projects I did last semester. One was launching an imaginary company called Radical Empathy, a brand dedicated to helping the refugee crisis. This line will be a part of this company.

The other project that inspired this was a corset that doubles a political commentary on the Syrian proxy war.

For this project, I’ll make at least two corsets using metals and plastics that we’re dumping into the ocean. I will collect plastic bags from beaches and streets, fuse them together to make fabric, and make corsets out of the material.

I will also collect soda cans, cut them into scales, and sew them onto one of the corsets to imitate the look of fish scales to show the poignant reality of what we have done to nature. The other corset will be more simple, focusing on the logos on the plastic bags, what they tell us about our society, and the concept of using plastic bags as a fabric.

Here is the criteria for each garment I make:

•sparks conversation/raises awareness about an important issue

•aesthetically pleasing


•sustainable manufacturing/small footprint

•has a way to contribute money to the cause it speaks about in a truly useful way

The idea for this comes from my time living in Senegal, where I saw artisans making toys out of cut-up metal from the street. It is also a technique similar to that of El-Anatsui, a Ghanaian artist who makes beautiful tapestries out of bottle caps and other metal waste wired together. These methods are a way of taking something unwanted and unsustainable, and reversing that.

I envision customers wearing my garments to parties and events—places for conversations. I want people to see my work and ask what is is and what it means, sparking discussions about the cause and thus raising awareness and building empathy.

Ultimately, empathy is about traveling to another person. We live in separate worlds, and I’ve been lucky enough to travel between them. Radical Empathy gives others the opportunity to do the same. Profits from each piece go to the topic they’re each about.


Integrated Studio 2: Bridge 2

In Integrated Studio 2 we had to choose a location from https://www.atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/new-york and build a project around it, incorporating into it an element of personal, public, historical, and fictional. I chose Albertine, a francophone-anglophone bookstore right near the MET, across the street from Central Park.

First we conducted preliminary research, and came up with 25 interview questions about our chosen site so we could narrow them down to just a few. Then we each visited the location itself, taking notes on sites, smells, and any type of observation that came to mind. I interviewed three people—two employees and one customer.

I was most intrigued by what one of the employees said about the debates that they held, how they provided structure and logic to sites of discourse, following the philosophy of Michel Foucault. When I asked him about political associations with Albertine, he froze up a little and told me that they are supposed to remain neutral because they are an extension of the French Embassy.

As I looked around the bookstore, I was enthralled by all of the ideas that have travelled here through books and the people reading them. I remembered the heated discussions the employee was talking about Albertine hosting, and I began to wonder: if books could talk to each other, what would they say?

I formed a short story around this idea, writing from the point of view of an imaginary newly-hired employee at Albertine, and placing it in the context of our current political climate. In the story I reference Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, and I brought to life the books of several famous philosophers and writers whose titles I found in the bookstore. I illustrated my story using Adobe Illustrator and lay it out in InDesign.

I drew inspiration from the stunning constellations painted on the ceiling of Albertine, and the golden glowing lamps that hung throughout the rooms. I decided that my color scheme would be night sky blue, golden yellow, and light blue. I drew all of the dead people in the story in black and white, and all of the alive people in color. I wanted to create a dreamy fantastical aesthetic full of intricacies and attention to detail, to mirror the ideas brought up in my short story.

During the critique I dropped the pages and watched them flutter onto platform. “This is a deconstructed book,” I said, “but I will lay it out for all you to read.” I arranged the pages in order on the platform and we all stood over it as different classmates took turns reading aloud. This allowed for everyone to see the design and layout of the whole thing and notice the color scheme and how the pages interacted together. The symbolic reason that I chose to have it deconstructed was because I felt that it matched the theme of the story and the concept of books flying out of their shelves and people materializing from them. If I were to do this again I might think of another way to display it that is more clearly a deconstructed book. For example, I could have made it into a book first and then torn the pages out.


Podcast Inspiration

The fashion industry pollutes and detriments human rights more than almost any other industry. This is why Céline Semaan Vernon, the launcher and creative director of Slow Factory, a slow fashion-activism company, and fashion-writer Nadine Farag, launched the podcast WEAReSLOW.

WEAReSLOW sparks an open dialogue about activism and sustainability in the fashion world. Their goal is toto include, not exclude, people from this dialogue, taking into consideration global intersectional feminism, racial justice, maternity issues, refugee rights, and the socio-economic differences of people all around the world.

Nadine and Celine use facts from articles, journals and studies to support their arguments, as well as their own experiences and the experiences of the vast communities around them. I do the same, and my opinions line up with the opinions expressed in the podcast. I also identify with them personally; not only are they politically active creative-types and activists, but they have connections to other countries and feel one with the refugee crisis. I can relate to this as an artist/activist who has lived all around the world and spent a lot of time working at a refugee camp, forging close friendships and relationships with the residents. I chose this podcast because Slow Factory holds a place in my heart, and WEAReSLOW is an audible extension of that. It aligns perfectly with my research question, “How Should Activism Intersect with Wearable Art?”.

Their link is attached below:



Seven Objects, Seven Days

I collected one object from my day for one week. I thought I was choosing things randomly from my days, or things I liked, but the objects together and alone said a lot more about me than I thought they would.

I struggled with InDesign, as it was my first time using it and I experience a lot of glitches. But I learned a lot about the program, and I was able to learn about graphic design and illustration as well. For this project I used Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.

Parabolic Curve Project Reflection

At first I struggled with this project: to design and build a structure forming a parabolic curve out of wooden strips, without using any glue. I was not highly experienced in the woodshop and hadn’t done math in a long time. But when I saw examples of parabolic designs during class I saw that there were many interesting directions to go in.

I wanted to plot my design on diamond-shaped axes and two normal axes forming a 90° angle to give the design a tail-shape. But once I got into manufacturing it, i decided it would be better to cut off the tail and just have the diamond axes to work off of. It formed a stretched spiral shape, and to make it more interesting I decided to sequentially raise the wood, hoisting them up with dowels. I used 1/4”-thick balsa wood and 3/16th-width dowels which I bought at Blick. I cut the balsa wood into 1/4 * 8” inch strips and began to lay them over my drawing to measure and mark exactly where I would need to drill holes through the strips in the woodshop. Then I cut the dowels based on the how much empty space there was in each drilled area of the construction. Once I put everything together, I decided that I wanted it to look more slick and rounded to evoke the movement of a curve, so I drew on the strips where I wanted to cut them diagonally at each tip with the bansaw. I spent about 2 days working in the woodshop and unmeasured time at home and in class to complete this project, and I bought around 3$ of material.

Looking at the project back, it looks like a modern monument, an artistic staircase, or even a coiled snake or dragon. I can see flaws in my execution of this project, such as faint traces of pencil stain, and two slightly unstable dowels, but overall I’m proud of the things I learned and the skills I developed through this. Most importantly, of branching out of my comfort zone.

Int Sem 2: Project Deconstruction

In my Seminar and Studio 1 classes we had to launch a perfume company. This meant designing the scent, the logo, making the label, choosing the name of the product and the company, making a magazine ad, and an actual perfume box, bottle, and set display. I had never done any of this before, but by the end of the project, I grew tremendous skill and confidence, and discovered something that I actually might pursue.

I drew inspiration from my experiences working at a refugee camp in Athens, and decided to have the profits of my perfume go towards the refugee crisis. Each note of the scent that I designed was from a particular story of my time there, which I hoped would humanize the refugee crisis to consumers of my perfume. I named my company Radical Empathy, and the perfume “Radical Empathy—extrait du monde”, which means ‘extract of the world’ in French. This goes along with the core concept of my company’s mission, which you can read about in my manifesto and olfactive brief attached below.

I conducted a lot of internet research about the art, science and history of perfumery, charity organizations, fashion activism, perfume advertising and advertising campaigns in general, writing copy, ad layout, logo design, woodworking, set displays, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and much more. I also looked at Pinterest for inspiration.

Overall I was very proud of what I created. Although the quality of my display could have been a lot better, it was my first time ever working with wood, let alone 3D. I feel very connected to this mission because it is so connected to my personal life and my passions. I can see myself launching something with this mission in the future.

Here are some steps I took along the way, as well as the final products:

Int Stu 2: Project Deconstruction

My Seminar 1 teacher assigned us the task of making paper dresses that expressed a political statement. I struggled with the assignment at first, having never done anything with fashion, let alone with 3D paper constructions. But when I began to think about it conceptually, ideas began to flow. What are clothes for? To cover, to constrict, to support. What are the components to a dress? I went to its skeleton; the corset. Because I wanted to make a political statement about current politics and the Syrian War, I chose to use the latest NY Times as my paper. I explored the Syrian revolution as a proxy war between Russia and America through internet research, information from the newspaper I was using, and information I already knew. The stomach of the corset, or, the core, shows the core issue; the wreckage as a result of war. The cups, which are meant to support breasts, show Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, who support the Syrian war. The words “Player 1” and “Player 2” imply that our politicians are treating war like a game to gain power over one another, and also hints that Putin, as player 1, is in control. I chose the color red as trim to simultaneously evoke the blood and rage of war, and the love and compassion needed to put and end to all of the violence, danger, and heartlessness.

Parts of the piece are a bit sloppy, but I think that adds to the concept of the piece. Layers upon layers of stories make up the messy nuanced reality of war and politics, and thus, my newspaper corset.

Since the project, I decided to make it more easily wearable. I cut down the back, punched holes on each side, and purchased a dark blue ribbon to lace through the holes. I chose blue for the ribbon so the overall color scheme would be red white and blue, the national colors of both the United States and Russia. Now the piece is fully wearable, and I am planning a proper photoshoot soon.

Although I had a lot of anxiety over this project, I ended up really enjoying it, and I am proud of the final product. It has inspired me to continue exploring the fashion, to make more wearable political statements like this one, and to potentially explore the intersection between fashion and activism.

Drawing/Imaging: Final Project

The excerpt of 2 A.M. at the Cats Pajamas that we read was packed full of delusional fabulousness and signs of decay. I wanted to make a wallpaper and portrait that showed Madeleine’s unique character—a sassy jazz singer in the body of a little girl who is left in the wreckage of her mother’s death.

The pink flamingos mentioned in the story immediately jumped out at me because they spoke to Madeleine’s playfulness and flamboyance. When I read that the jazz club the story is centered around was a Cuban jazz club, I began researching Cuban interior design. I saw a lot of ornate wallpaper and old chipped plaster walls that created a beautiful texture. I decided to use this for my design because the old plaster represents decay, a tinge of sadness to reflect the story’s circumstances. The old-fashioned style also mirrors Madeleine’s character, as she acts like an older woman of a different era. To get the texture of the plaster in Illustrator, I appropriated actual plaster by importing a photo of it, lowering the opacity, and placing it over my blue background. I chose blue and white because they are the colors of snow and winter, where the story takes place, and snow “flurries” are frequently mentioned in the excerpt we read. The yellow background on the wallpaper pattern is modeled after the color of a cigarette, which Madeleine huffs on in the excerpt.

For the portrait, I decided to go with a film noir style. I wanted to portray Madeleine not as a little girl but as what she aspires to be: a jazz singer. After looking through a lot of old jazz portraits, I was struck by the way harsh light and shadows make smoke look white and delicate, and distort and enhance certain features of the face. I decided to make the smoke turn into musical notes to reinforce the jazz theme. Like with my wallpaper design, I drew this on Adobe Illustrator.

Source images and inspiration:

Drawing/Imaging: Appropriation

For my Photoshop appropriation assignment, I decided to juxtapose an image of Kendall Jenner with a photo of wreckage from the Syrian War.

This is an example of artistic appropriation, as I took these images from other sources, but it also references a much more negative sense of the word: cultural appropriation. Kendall Jenner is notorious for exploiting other cultures with less socio-economic power than her, and offending groups of people through both personal fashion and professional ad campaigns. Recently she starred in a Pepsi commercial that kind of fetishized protest culture, stereotyped race, and made light of the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, and other minority rights. It ended with her handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer, and the conflict subsiding because of ‘the magic of Pepsi’ or whatever.

If Pepsi hadn’t faced so much backlash for this commercial, what would they have done next to try to appeal to a politically active target audience? Hence, my grim and disturbingly absurd juxtaposition.

I drew these images from news articles, so I decided to take the NY Times font and collage a sentence that could work either as a news headline or an ad slogan for Pepsi. The words reference Marie Antoinette’s famous quote, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, which essentially means “Let them eat cake”. Antoinette, like most of the French royalty and nobility at the time, was famous for her frivolousness, lavish spendings, and ignorance about the poverty and atrocities going on outside of her bubble. I aimed to compare her to Kendall Jenner and generally critique celebrity culture and unethical advertising in the media.

I used juxtaposition, layering, fragmenting, and decontextualization for this assignment.

The original sources I used are attached below: