That's what she embroidered

The Daily Pennsylvanian
February 25th, 2009

"Eating greasy food without bread is what gives people herpes." "A woman will get a female cold by sitting on anything cold." "Men are so horny they would try to fuck a fly while it's buzzing around."

These are only a few of the lessons that shaped the way Andrea Dezso, an assistant professor at Parsons the New School for Design, ate certain foods, acted around men and behaved every day of her life in Transylvania, Hungary.

Dezso, an Hungarian artist, stitched the myths and beliefs that shaped her childhood and teenage years into embroideries that were displayed last night in an exhibition at Kelly Writers House called "That's What She Said." Ten out of the 40 embroideries in the original series - entitled "Lessons from My Mother" - appeared at last night's event.

The words and pictures stitched into the fabric represent lessons taught to Dezso by her mother while living in Transylvania.

"In Transylvania, everyone believes in the same idea. There is no questioning," said Dezso.

It was only when she moved to the United States at the age of 29 that Dezso finally began to question the beliefs that had been a major part of her life for so long, she said.

"When I came to America, I saw a girl walking in the street with wet hair. In my hometown, I was taught that if you do that, you die," she said.

Discovering the truth about her beliefs turned out to be a cultural shock, she added.

"I realized how much my thoughts on life were constrained by these lessons," she said. "Now, I don't believe in anything anymore. I am always skeptical."

According to Rivka Fogel, a College sophomore, rebelling against your mother's beliefs ultimately produces a new set of beliefs that is entirely your own.

This is exactly what Dezso began to do after arriving in America.

Today, Dezso's work has been displayed at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City. It was there that College junior Kaegan Sparks, the curator of the Kelly Writers House exhibition, was inspired by Dezso's art and invited her to present her work at Penn.

"There is ... a veil of mystery that fascinates me about this art," said Germanic Studies research assistant Ilinca Iurascu, who introduced Dezso's embroideries last night. "So much that I don't want to draw the curtain but preserve the drapes."