A few years before my mom died, my best friend Elizabeth came home from college and taught me how to knit. The utter obsession with textile-based making didn’t kick in right away, but later, after my mother died, I latched onto fabric like burdock to a sheepdog’s fur. Knitting has wound its way into every area of my life, including my graphic design work. 

Both grief and graphic design projects are never really finished. There’s always more one can figure out, change, improve, and contemplate, and it never feels done, but at some point one just has to let go. Eventually it’s time to send the files off to the printer; eventually it’s time to open one’s heart back up to a world that has caused great pain. But in both cases, we may continue exploring, iterating, and dealing with the work for the rest of our lives. Despite this truth, there is a commonly held belief that both design projects and grief processes do need to be finished and perfected at some point. I challenge that belief. 

My thesis, Unfinished: Communicating Grief and Healing Through Handmade Textiles, documents my research into the historical and contemporary work that links grief, healing, textiles, and design, and thereby emphasizes the value of sharing space for quiet creation and community among those who have experienced grief similar to my own, allowing room for the unfinished and imperfect, and expanding the materials and techniques we think of as graphic design. It includes personal writing (journal entries, letters to my mother, and other materials) to lay bare my own experience of coming to terms with grief and the ways that textile making has enriched and enabled that experience. The writing is raw, and it interjects itself throughout the document in the same way that moments of raw grief interject themselves into the flow of the everyday.

Angela Paladino (she/her) is a fiber artist, musician, graphic designer, and editor. Her work has been shown in exhibitions at Studio Place Arts, Vermont College of Fine Arts, the Fletcher Free Library, and elsewhere. Angela and her two dogs live in various locations around the country in their camper van, Vincent Van Go. When in Vermont, Angela is one quarter of the indie rock band Anachronist. No matter where she is, she spends a lot of her time making textile-based art and design (knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing, embroidering…), doing freelance graphic design, riding her bicycle, reading books, and hiking with her dogs.

What Might Be
by Angela Paladino

The things that make us
crazy and
lonely and
the things that flow back and forth,
or just away through
our stretched fingers.
Nerves pulled tight, resources spread thin,
predicted at every turn.
But here’s the twist—
not a one of us knows shit.
I can whisper to you what I’m afraid of,
and you can cry out what makes you cry,
and we can plan our plans. But
no one has a clue, and it could be
better than we even imagine.
No one has the faintest idea
w h a t   m i g h t   b e .


(AI song reference: “Following Through” by Dismemberment Plan)



Material is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere and it’s everything, almost as if the word has become meaningless. The kind of material that I’ve explored in this thesis is the kind with a magical essence, charged with human touch, presence, and mystery—the kind that stirs curiosity, creates questions, and encourages us to keep seeking.

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Artists and designers on the introvert spectrum are often misrepresented and misunderstood. This experience begins during an introvert’s formative academic years, continues through their career journey, and is also reflected in their practice.

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This thesis has been the medicine that has broken down and will continually break down the phlegm that obstructed the life-giving oxygen needed for me to breathe. This work has stretched and pulled me in many directions. I wanted to know my roots. I wanted to know how far I could travel into the archives. I wanted to know if I could do something as simple as locate my ancestors’ names beyond the second generation. Within this wading, I have learned many things about the exploration of lineage and documentation. This synthesis has spoken to the slivers of hope and the gaping holes in the history of America’s true builders. It is a work that speaks about my experience during this discovery and expresses it through the visuals as I attempted to fill the gaps of my familial past.

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Reconsidering the designer as one among many in a creative and collaborative network of active participants full of agency and potential.

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Imagine a world that celebrates our differences, tears down walls, welcomes outsiders, and stimulates collaborative encouragement—this is the revolution—this is Ignite Designers.

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Observations about living and designing in a world of clashing expectations.

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“This ain’t a scene, it’s a goddamn arms race.”

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