Senior Spotlight: Gabriella Feuillet brings creativity to campus
Gabriella Feuillet, a Sid Richardson College senior, was drawn to Rice Architecture due to her passion for art and design. In her time at Rice, Feuillet has tried to make space on campus for creativity of all shapes and sizes. (Channing Wang/Thresher)
Content warning: This story includes a brief description of physical harm.
Gabriella Feuillet’s most memorable Rice experience involved two days without sleep, a gash on her finger and a 4 a.m. trip to the emergency room. Feuillet, who is an architecture major, said that this traumatic memory galvanized her towards self-care.
“One time I was in studio and I hadn’t slept in two days and I was so close to being done,” Feuillet, a Sid Richardson College senior, said. “I had to make a model and literally only had a couple cuts left, and then I cut my finger so deeply I [saw] the fat inside. That was a huge turning point for me — after that, I really tried not to stay up so much and be a little more disciplined with my time.”
Yet this was not the first time that Feuillet said she found her health suffering due to overwork.
“In high school, I tried to push myself in so many different ways and that just wasn't sustainable,” Feuillet said. “I felt I needed to take a gap year because I was so burned out.”
Feuillet deferred her senior year acceptance into Rice Architecture to spend a year with a host family in Paris. Despite five years of French classes, Feuillet’s struggle with fully expressing herself in a foreign country taught her a crucial lesson about communication.
“I try to be understanding anytime I'm talking to someone because everyone has their own way of communicating,” Feuillet said. “Everyone has their own language; maybe some people aren't as great at English but they might be a really good writer in … a different language. Especially at Rice Architecture, it’s such an international school that it’s so important to keep that in mind all the time.”
Feuillet said she was drawn to Rice Architecture in part because of the cultural diversity of the program and of Houston in general, but primarily because of her passion for art and design.
“In high school, I was super interested in art and design programs, not necessarily architecture-specific, but design overall,” Feuillet said. “I was really into mixed media, like digital and physical collages … and I still have aspirations of being a maker and just making things. I love making things with my hands.”
Since studying architecture at Rice, Feuillet said she has learned about many different design careers and how broad architecture truly is.
“My definition or ideal of architecture has changed so much since starting,” Feuillet said. “Most people think that you have to be really good at math or physics or a really talented artist, but it’s way more about problem-solving and being in touch with what people need and having some cultural changes you would like to see in mind, how you would like society to operate in space.”
During her freshman year, Feuillet co-founded ASTR*, a Rice art and design magazine, with her friends. She said their goal was to create an outlet for artistic expression that was casual, less structured and without rules, both for themselves and for the greater Rice community.
“We really wanted to show creativity across all majors, because I think that there are so many really creative people at Rice,” Feuillet said. “I think it was a big goal for me to lower the standard for good art and change people’s perception. It is not just a painting or a drawing — even decorating your room is a form of creativity. I just wanted to expand that.”
Feuillet, who is currently ASTR*’s editor-in-chief, said she takes pride in the growth of the magazine from a group of her freshman year friends to a well-run student organization with 10 editors.
“[The growth of ASTR*] has made a profound impact,” Feuillet said. “It means a lot to me that other people see the vision and care about it enough to join and to give their time.”
Since her freshman year, Feuillet said she has made many incredible lifelong friends and advises her fellow Rice students to cherish the time they spend with their own friends.
“It's very special to be in the same city as your close friends, because after that you don't know if it will become difficult to see them again,” Feuillet said. “Be intentional about keeping your friends close and maintaining those relationships.”
In addition to her friends, Feuillet said she is grateful for the amazing relationships she has developed with her professors.
“I really feel so supported by my professors, and even have been open to them about having anxiety or anxiety attacks,” Feuillet said. “I feel like that has only been met by so much support and I value that so much.”
Feuillet said that she has grown so much since her senior year of high school. She said she has become more aware of the physical and mental toll of overworking, the limits of perfectionism, the importance of a healthy body image and the finger-saving benefits of a good night’s rest.
“In college, where I have pushed myself to different limits, I have learned so much,” Feuillet said. “Physical and mental health [are] so important … and I really feel best when I've slept well and eaten. I’m now more aware about healthy habits that can allow me to continue my career and are just more sustainable.”
Looking ahead, Feuillet plans on continuing her study in architecture through Rice’s Bachelor of Architecture program, a program that entails a year-long internship and a further year of schooling. Afterward, she plans to carry on her passion for art and design through the medium of architecture.
“Architecture is all about creative problem solving and design-thinking,” Feuillet said. “It is at once overwhelming and freeing to know there is not a single correct way to do something. Similarly, there is not a specific path I see for my career … all I know is that I never want to stop working with physical materials.”
Editor’s Note: This is an installment of Senior Spotlight, a series intended to explore the stories of graduating seniors, who are chosen at random to participate.
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