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. There is an intangible space that needs to be designed in the artist and designer community for more introverted types. How can the quiet people be afforded the same opportunities as the more vocal ones? Also, how can structures of education, careers, and practice change to create more equity? This thesis explores the history and scope of introverted and extroverted personality types; how introverted artists and designers have been affected by the expectations of society; and how we can begin to design a space that is considerate no matter where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.

Keri Dennison-Leidecker (she/her/hers) is a radical introvert and a fearless observer. She is also a photographer (AFA, BFA) and graphic designer (MFA) whose aesthetic balances a love of nature, a passion for skateboarding culture, admiration for the mighty pencil, and a keen eye for subtle beauty. 

In her MFA thesis at Vermont College of Fine Arts, she focused on designing space for introverts in working and learning environments and expanding our understanding of introverts beyond simple stereotypes. Living that example, she has devoted much of her time to working within her community, serving on the board of Riverzedge Arts in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and with various community organizations in Providence, including City Arts, RIOT, and RHDRI. 

She teaches art and design at the Community College of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University and has done freelance design work for Youth Pride Inc, BCBSRI’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, and other organizations. Her photography and design work have been featured in Hunger Mountain Review and Providence Monthly, on WJAR, and in gallery shows in Bristol, Providence and Warwick, Rhode Island; Dartmouth and New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Montpelier, Vermont. In a previous life, she worked for Anthropologie and traveled widely, opening new stores and creating visual design.

A lifelong resident of New England, she spends as much time as possible hiking and running around in the woods, but she always returns home to her ever-growing pack of senior rescue dogs. 

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What Might Be
by Keri Dennison-Leidecker

Fuck you inner critic (IC). You follow me around day and night. You work your way into my dreams, my nightmares. Just stop it. You are dragging me down, making me question my abilities, my self-worth as an artist and designer. You join forces with other people in my life and make me hear a very jaded version of what I think others think of me. You paralyze me to no end. What’s your deal, IC? Why do you get off on this? I’m a really hard worker, and I want to succeed, but you don’t want me to. Why? You have this ability to twist the truth, the reality. You convince me to hear and see things that are not there. You’re fucking with my senses, my awareness of myself. Don’t you have someone that can take over for you for a while? Maybe someone more supportive like self-confidence (SC)? SC sounds like a much nicer confidante. You obviously chose me as a host for your master plan to take over. I know you ruin other people’s lives, too. They have written books about you. You are a literal roadblock in my mind. Every time my heart elevates because I’m excited about something new I’ve created, you slam down that roadblock and say, “Sorry, closed for construction. Find another route that is way out of the way.” WTF IC. Why don’t you like my work? Why don’t you approve of my hopes and dreams? Are you jealous because you are so horrible, IC? No one is ever successful when putting people down, but you thrive on it for some reason. IC, I see you. I know you are there, and I will take you down to the best of my ability. You live in my brain, and last I heard, that meant I’m in control as you are a part of me. So, back off. Even though you are hidden, you are not. I see you IC and   w h a t   m i g h t   b e .


(AI song reference: “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode)



My thesis book, 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.

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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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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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