Rana Chan, Honors College major, forged a relationship with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Girls Inc. of Santa Fe to create a series of multi-generational workshops as part of her honors thesis. 

Upon meeting with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Chan recognized that the institution sought to connect younger museum patrons to the life and work of Georgia O’Keeffe. She orchestrated a partnership with the Girls Inc. of Santa Fe, an organization geared towards the empowerment of girls, with programming that focuses on making girls “Strong, smart and bold” through healthy living, academic enrichment and life skills.  

In collaboration with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and Girls Inc., Chan devised six-weeks of programming for a group of 11-13-year-old girls to learn about the life of Georgia O’Keeffe. In particular, the workshops utilized O’Keeffe’s fashion choices as a reflection of her individuality, practicality, and aesthetic expression, which served as a springboard for the girls’ creations. 

Over the course of the workshops, the girls were given a tour of O’Keeffe’s clothing vault, selected fabrics, and constructed their own garments. In many ways, this project relied on the generosity of the community that Chan cultivated. Through support from Dean Greg Lanier in the Honors College, Chan was able to provide supplies for the workshops. Further, Make Santa Fe — a Santa Fe-based maker’s space — helped to support the project by donating fabric for the construction of garments.

A cohort of experienced female sewers from Santa Fe served as mentors for the girls in the program. During the progress of designing and learning to sew their garments, the girls forged relationships with their mentors, were empowered by learning something new, developed troubleshooting skills, and fell in love the act of creating something on their own. 

At the final workshop, students presented their garments to their community and project stakeholders. The designs were all-around given high praise. 

Chan’s thesis project expanded beyond a mere obligation and became a tool of transformation advocacy—a means to improve her community and advance the lives of others.