Sienna Gersick

Compass to Kaaba

Class of: 2027

Major: Integrated Design BFA

Medium: Mixed Media

Faculty: Langdon Graves

Prompt: For this assignment, we were paired with another student in the class and instructed to interview them on their personal beliefs. We were then expected to use the information from the interview to design a product for them that somehow supported or enhanced their beliefs.

My partner shared with me that she is muslim. While her beliefs were strong and she was both confident and enthusiastic about sharing them, I knew that learning enough about the muslim religion in a matter of days to design an object was going to be difficult. I have not grown up with religion and because the beliefs she was sharing with me are tied to so much history, so many communities, and even some politics, I was scared of accidentally designing an object that was in some way insensitive. Eventually, I decided to make a compass that magically points to the house of Allah known as Kaaba. She had shared during the interview that she prays five times a day in this direction. I knew that I also wanted to include subha, islamic prayer beads. She also told me about how beyond the prayers that take place five times a day, she also recites smaller prayers using prayer beads in specific situations. I asked her for a verse from the Qur’an that she feels most strongly embodies her personal beliefs within the religion as well as the smaller prayers she uses most often. We then looked at some islamic designs together and she told me which she liked best. I used a wood burner to engrave the quote around the top of the box in english and in the original text. I then burned designs inspired by those we had looked at around the sides. I used black ink and green paint to create a compass rose that points to an illustration of Kaaba and to accentuate the designs around the lid. I attached a string with 33 of the green beads to the back and filled the box with cards that I had written her favorite prayers on.