At Abadia we draw inspiration from women who dare to do things their way and we are curious about what drives and influences them. Raya Kassisieh is a Jordanian artist who has recently returned to the Middle East after almost 10 years living, working and learning in New York.
“I love whaT a single strand can do to turn into material that then clothes us.“
1. Can you introduce yourself?
Hi I am Raya, I always find this question hard to answer as I do not necessarily know how to box myself into a one liner. I guess I am Raya and I am one of many on planet earth?
2. As an artist, you’ve chosen textile as a medium, can you tell us more about that choice; how it came about and why?
Fibre, fabric wovens knits it’s such a whole world on its own. I love what a single strand can do to turn into material that then clothes us and covers our furniture etc… I fell in love with it from the day I got crochet dolls made by my grandmother and had the pleasure of seeing its possibilities stretched while I studied apparel in university.
3. What themes do you like to explore through your work?
I explore myself mostly. As humans the only experience we have is through our own selves, affected and effected by everything we encounter on a daily basis and in more grand events. I explore meaning of presence in aid of the medium I indulge in. Another aspect of my work involves being more than a sole producer, I work with crafts women who benefit and aid me in my process as well.
Raya is wearing the pleated dress in white cotton
4. You are from the Middle East but you’ve spent many years living and working in New York. How has this influenced you?
Yes, I am a proud Ammani! Living in New York changed my entire build up and outlook on life. It has allowed me to shed social constructs of this has to go there and opened me up to new channels of experimentation in all walks of life! From personal perspectives and philosophies to taking cut and sew and stretching it like a painting or using knitting to create large architectural structures.
5. Can you tell us about a moment in your life that really shifted your perspective on the world?
Oof my perspective on the world literally changes every single day. I am open to learn and see all things in new ways whenever I have the chance to. My most recent shift in perspective came about when I made a huge move to Dubai! In 2 weeks, after being in New York for almost 10 years, I said yes to a full time job in the middle east! Prior to that I had mostly been a free agent haha.
6. When do you feel most like yourself?
When I am home alone creating, reading, cooking! I am an extremely introverted extrovert.
“I am open to learn
and see all things
in new ways whenever
I have the chance to.”
“JUST LIKE COLLECTING ART,
BUILDING YOUR WARDROBE
SHOULD BE AN ITERATION OF
YOUR PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY.“
7. You have an incredible sense of style, who and what inspires you?
Thank you! Everything inspires me. The mundane fuels me and the lavish compliments it. My closet is a realization of my dreams! Ones I am still building. When I get dressed I always feel like a toddler in their mother’s closet. My presentation is always a very literal interpretation of how I am feeling and what kind of day I want to have. Just like collecting art, building your wardrobe should be an iteration of your personal life philosophy.
Many things inspire me from my education in costume history to historic paintings to modern furniture to brutalist architecture and the clothing articles themselve of course! Women who inspire me are Michele Lamy in the sense of popular culture, and Sheikha Moza in the sense of just effervescent elegance, however, anyone committed to aesthetic is someone I am intrigued by!
8. If you had three wishes, how would you use them?
- I wish for hate and othering in the world to be nonexistent.
- I would wish that capitalism be dialed alllllll the way back.
- I would wish for all societal constructs be shed from everyone’s subconscious to allow for humans to reach their fullest potential and flourish without fear of failure or judgement.
- Compassion in everyone’s heart
- All children be correctly loved for and all people who wish to be parents receive children to love and raise.
- All partners be kind to each other
- Alleviate poverty
Photography by Mariah Jelena