Artist of the Week: Selma Wu ’25 on Visual Experiences

“I’m always a very visual person,” expressed Selma Wu ’25. During our interview, I came to realize that Selma is both humble and interdisciplinarily talented, having had no professional training in art but rather a lifelong experience with optical aesthetics. In fact, the focus on aesthetic and perceptible elements of art, which started with drawing, pervades all of Selma’s projects.

“Visuals play the most important role of telling the story,” Selma explained.

Extremely attuned to and inspired by what she witnesses, Selma experienced an influx of ideas when she came to Swarthmore.

“As soon as I arrived on Swarthmore’s campus, I had a thousand ideas about what to do in these four years, or this year.”

She set to work with the intense, detail-oriented process of making her dreams a reality. Her first Swarthmore dream? A fashion show. 

After finishing the recruitment process for the show and finding students interested in production, styling, designing, and modeling, Selma paid close attention to their needs and focused on creating a platform to emphasize every artist’s individual vision and creativity. The designers finished their first sewing workshop last Sunday to get an idea of how they want to work and what their goals are, for example whether sewing is necessary for each designer. They also discussed logistical questions, such as who needs supplies. Selma, who studies art history, theater, film, and economics at the college, is well-equipped to manage the intersection of administrative and creative responsibilities to create outcomes that are, in her words, “something that is really whimsical.” 

She explained that she felt the need to focus on the specific organizational aspects in order to get to the creative components of planning. As the planning developed, she met individually with the student designers and stylists, gauging their interests and determining the common threads and distinctiveness of their styles. 

Based on these insights, Selma determined a theme for the show: “Do Not Touch.” 

Selma emphasizes that this theme encourages multiple interpretations, a potential one being the impact of a hands-on fashion industry and its sustainability. 

“I have a lot of hesitation to state that I’m going into the fashion industry because I know there are so many problems with the system, and I know that sustainability is not just about using good materials, it’s also about how you provide or bring more justice to the system. There can be multiple ways of doing that.”

For example, the show plans to repurpose deserted materials. While the designers do not necessarily plan for it to be high fashion, they hope to represent an intersection of art and fashion. 

“In the longer run,” Selma added, “I hope I can also learn more about sustainability and how that manifests in our club activities on this campus.”

The club, which plans to operate under the name BOUQUET, will undertake other visual and fashion-based projects to satisfy the community’s creative urges. Selma is interested not only in fashion or art but also theater and active, dynamic movement. 

She hopes to work with the aesthetic presentation of style and photography more next semester to “explore that intersection between movement and fashion or art, because I do want to be an active participant in my life, and I want to see how the visuals can still manifest in my movements and in my acts of contact with the world.”

Selma focuses on shared perceptual experiences and motion and also cares about social change and collective art.

“ I really want to…have that community of people who are interested in fashion, or the people who are interested in the art of clothing people, not just fashion.” 

In the future, she hopes to see more opportunities for people to share their works and bring art to the attention of others. Selma plans to take the group’s creative visions to the runway Saturday, April 23. 

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