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School of Art and Design senior wins Provost’s award for undergraduate research

May 5, 2017

As a graduating senior, learning she had won an award from IU’s Office of the Provost for her undergraduate research was the perfect way for fashion design student Marley Isaacson to end her collegiate career.

On May 6, she will be awarded her undergraduate degree from the School of Art and Design knowing that she made the most of her four years at Indiana University.

Marley Isaacson working with a dress in a design studio
Marley Isaacson works on her designs in a studio inside Kirkwood Hall.Photo by Chaz Mottinger, IU Communications

“No matter what you’re passionate about, you can definitely find opportunities here on campus to take it all the way and learn as much as you can,” said Isaacson, who is from Northbrook, Illinois.

And for her, that passion is fashion design.

She spent a lot of time as a young girl sketching in her notebooks, but it wasn’t until she took a design course in high school that Isaacson realized her calling. She considered several fashion design schools, but IU won her over for its hands-on and well-known fashion design program with the bonus of a Big Ten campus atmosphere.

Isaacson enrolled in IU’s introductory merchandising and design course during her first semester on campus. Deb Christiansen, a senior lecturer in the School of Art and Design, spent eight weeks of the course covering careers in fashion design. Isaacson recognized her passion for fashion design right away, and Christiansen would become one of her biggest mentors throughout the next four years.

In fact, Christiansen is the one who encouraged Isaacson to apply and nominated her for the Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, which Isaacson won in the Performing and Creative Arts category. Her application detailed her process competing in the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund’s Geoffrey Beene Case Study Competition, for which she researched sustainable initiatives in the fashion industry. She was tasked with designing a sustainable product for a mass-market retailer, keeping in mind the company’s objectives and target market. Isaacson was a top-four finalist, winning $30,000 in scholarship money.

“Being selected for this award is so surreal for me,” Isaacson said. “When I applied, I really never thought that it would get to that point. It’s really cool as a senior to be able to show the provost and the school what I’ve been doing and to have that be recognized.”

In her time at IU, Isaacson has experienced the merger of the former apparel merchandising and design program into the newly formed School of Art and Design. She was chosen to speak at the April rededication of the school’s new space in Kirkwood Hall.

“The new school is going to be so amazing for students interested in merchandising, design and art,” she said. “I find the cross-disciplinary classes especially interesting, such as woodshop and 3-D printing. These are things I’ve never done before, and it’s cool to take those types of principles and apply them in my design work.”

Isaacson said it was helpful to her merchandising and design background to be in class with interior design or studio art students to learn to think about things differently.

After graduation, Isaacson will begin a full-time job designing for Macy’s in New York City.

Meet the other four IU Bloomington students who were also named recipients:

The Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity originated in 2010 to recognize undergraduates who collaborate on or spearhead excellent or original academic work. Students are nominated by professors and are then selected by a committee of administrators and faculty. IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel presented the awards at a reception March 31 at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

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