Melisa Erşan

Product + Visual Designer • Researcher
Melisa Erşan is a product and visual designer with a background in psychology, research, and visual design. Drawing from a multidisciplinary perspective, Melisa's design approach revolves around understanding human needs and behaviors to create experiences that not only visually captivate users but also encourage them to delve deeper, actively engage, and collectively weave new narratives. Melisa's passion for learning drives her to explore the dynamic design field, welcoming new technologies and developing ways to integrate the material and digital worlds.
Thesis Faculty
Harpreet SareenLoretta WolozinEver BusseyAndrew Zornoza

Kilim: A Narrative Woven Through the Threads of a Reconstructed Language

Kilim: Threads of a Reconstructed Language

* On exhibit: an original, reenvisioned, handwoven Turkish kilim.

Kilim: A Narrative Woven Through the Threads of a Reconstructed Language is a profound statement — a movement towards reclaiming an age-old art form and reshaping it to reflect the contemporary voices of Turkish women. The kilim, traditionally a symbol of heritage, craftsmanship, and cultural identity, becomes the canvas upon which modern narratives are painted. With respect and extrapolation from traditional practice, this piece evolves the kilim, breathing new life into it by infusing it with the experiences, struggles, and triumphs of today’s Turkish women.

As visitors step onto the kilim installed on the floor at this exhibition, they become active participants, entering into a dialogue — a conversation between the past and the present. The woven motifs, each corresponding to a unique sound, create an immersive experience, blurring the boundaries between sight and sound, between the visual and the auditory. This sensory engagement challenges the audience to question, to explore, to delve deeper into the layers of meaning embedded within the kilim. The absence of sung words enhances the power of the narrative; inviting interpretation, encouraging the audience to decipher the stories woven into the fabric. It’s a celebration of the unsung heroines, the Turkish women whose hands have crafted these masterpieces over generations, whose stories are now finding a voice through this reinterpretation of their art.

Unweave Patriarchy” is also a call to action, a challenge to the patriarchal norms that have historically shaped and limited the representation of women in Turkish society. By reconstructing the language of kilim, by expanding its scope and diversity, this piece aims to dismantle these entrenched norms, to create space for new narratives, new perspectives, and new possibilities. In doing so, it honors the legacy of the past while paving the way for a more inclusive, equitable future. It’s a testament to the resilience, creativity, and spirit of Turkish women, a celebration of their journey towards empowerment, and a reminder that art and artisanship have the power to inspire, to provoke, and to transform.

In the process of crafting my thesis project, I reconstructed the symbolic language of kilim making, engaged in interviews with Anatolian weavers as primary resource, built a custom loom, handwoven my own kilim, and developed a catalog to articulate my journey through writing. To access the catalog and read more about my process, please view the link here.