Shasekh Augustin Portrait

c/o Shasekh Augustin

This is an installment of the Artgus Artist Spotlight, an ongoing series presented by the Arts & Culture section intended to highlight the artistic talents of the wider Wesleyan community. In this installment, Arts and Culture Editor Kat Struhar ’25 spoke with Shasekh Augustin ’23. Augustin is a sculpture artist and fashion designer whose upcoming fashion show, Finite, which will take place on Saturday, April 15 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.. Struhar and Augustin met to discuss the process of putting Finite together and Augustin’s creative journey at the University.

The Argus: Can you introduce yourself?

Shasekh Augustin: I’m Shasekh Augustin, and I’m a senior at Wesleyan. I have done a few projects at Wes, starting with Drip to Drown, which is a thrift event. I started that my junior year, and I would throw one every month or so. It was basically an opportunity for Wesleyan students with art or clothes that they wanted to exchange or sell. They’ve been very successful. 

Now, I am producing and directing a fashion show called the Finite Fashion Show, which is [on Saturday,] April 15. I’m so excited. It features a good amount of Wesleyan models and an external designer [whom] I met when I was modelling for New York Fashion Week. I have invited her to design for the show, which is really exciting. I’m also modelling for her, which is super cool. I’ll be playing a lot of roles, for sure.

A: You’re a studio art major with a concentration in sculpture. Can you tell me about your thesis exhibition?

SA: It’s actually up right now. And, interestingly, sculpture isn’t really where I see myself going, career-wise. But I think it has been an avenue for me to explore the art industry in an institutional sense, which I definitely think will be helpful in my career. I’m definitely more interested in fashion. 

The thesis, I’ve been working on it for the entire year. And I’m so happy it’s done. It was really rewarding to install, which surprised me a little bit because I just thought it was gonna be an arduous, dreadful process, but I actually really enjoyed it. I was doing it with my friends, and it taught me a lot. 

A: What is the focus of your thesis?

SA: Essentially, in the thesis I draw a parallel between extraterrestrials and marginalized and oppressed human groups that exist in the world, particularly in Black American history, which is included in the larger scope of Indigenous histories. I use historical documents…and I manipulate these documents or recreate them to fit within that parallel that I’m drawing. But the main piece in the thesis is a figural sculpture of an extraterrestrial, and it’s beautiful. 

A: Can you talk a little bit about your connection to and background with fashion and modeling?

SA: The Finite Fashion Show is meant to support creatives of color as a whole, and specifically creatives of color that are interested in the fashion industry and don’t necessarily have connections. In most creative industries, connections are everything, and they are really the path to achieving success in the creative world. So, I wanted to provide an opportunity where people who didn’t have access previously to all of these networks could start building those connections through the show. Prior to like, one year ago, I had no connections to the fashion industry at all. I didn’t really have any knowledge about it either. 

I was originally a computer science major, but I switched over to art studio really late—my junior spring. As I was doing that, I started experimenting with new forms of media that I hadn’t worked with before, specifically photography. I was really interested in being the model, or the subject, in photographs. So I started modeling for people and also asking people to take pictures of me, and I really started to be intrigued by and fall in love with modeling. I always was interested in fashion, clothing, and design. But then, once I started modeling, I was like, “Yeah, this is for me.” 

From there, I started researching modeling. I started following everyone that was either a high fashion model or high fashion designer, and really studying models—especially runway models, but also editorial models, their posing, their expression, their form. I really studied it because I wanted to improve my own skills. From there, I started researching modeling opportunities and trying to build my portfolio. 

I actually got the opportunity to model at New York Fashion Week through Instagram, which is crazy. It was through The Model Experience. I submitted an application through their website, and they accepted me. I was just so in shock and happy and proud and, honestly, in a lot of disbelief. But from there, I really started studying. I was like, “Okay, I’ve actually secured an opportunity. And New York Fashion Week is huge.” I just wanted to make sure I was as perfect as I could be. 

The only experience I had prior to that was modeling for the SOC fashion show, which happened in [my] junior [year], spring [semester]. I loved it. That also was part of the inspiration for me to go into modeling. I was like, “I want to do this again, ASAP.” That first walk was rough, looking back on the video. That video compared to my New York Fashion Week walk is just so different. I had improved so much just through practice and research and really trying to get it right. And that made me really happy and proud. 

A: Can you tell me about your jewelry business? What was the process of getting that project on its feet like?

SA: Atomic Jest was born in the summer of 2021. Around that time, I was starting to accept my interest in the creative field and the act of creating, considering I was a computer science major before. Because I had always been interested in fashion and clothing, I kind of had my eyes set on entering the design world. I was seeing a lot of my peers starting their own businesses, and it was really inspirational. Especially because, even though they’re my age, they’ve never done this before, [they still] achieved so much success. It was just such a beautiful thing to see and really inspired me. And so I was like, “Okay, I need to also start my own business.” 

As a low-income student with like, zero resources, I was trying to think, “Realistically, what is the quickest entry point into the design world that I would have the capacity to produce?” I knew if I went into clothing, I would want to really design from scratch full-on garments. And I knew I just didn’t have the resources or capacity or knowledge to do that. So I had the idea to start with jewelry. 

I knew it was going to be so much responsibility. Being a business owner is a lot. So I tried to prepare myself in every way that I could. I was researching what new small business owners should know and marketing strategies. I started constructing jewelry pieces and designing my own website. I started getting access to so many more mediums through that process. I had never worked with digital design or graphic design, but I had to do that for the website. And also photography. I had never worked with a camera, so I started learning that process and taking photographs of people and having other people model for me, which was a cool experience. It made me realize that I really enjoyed digital design. It was definitely a learning curve. And…so much work and energy went into it. But I think the success of it has definitely been rewarding. 

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to prioritize it as much recently. One, because of the Finite show, but also [being busy with my] thesis and also [lack of access to] resources. I just, unfortunately, don’t have the money to support it anymore. It’s really hard being a creative and not having wealth, because it makes everything kind of impossible. All of the things that I tried to do at Wesleyan are to try and support people like me who don’t have access to the resources but still have a passion for design and creativity and want to enter those industries. 

A: What has your journey as an artist on campus been like?

SA: With Wesleyan being a predominantly white institution, I’m sure other departments are similar, but, specifically, the Art Department is so elitist, racist, and inaccessible. Being here and doing all of these things for the first time, and being low-income and being Black and being a woman has made a lot of things so difficult. Producing the Finite Fashion Show has been nearly impossible. 

There have been so many times when I wanted to give up on the project because it was so taxing on my mental, physical, and emotional health. But I’m not the type of person to just give up on something so big like that, especially because I care about it so much. So I pushed through, and I’m so happy to see it happen, because I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into it. 

But it’s been difficult. The art studio major gives zero funding for theses. Zero, but you need so many materials. And it’s required for you to graduate. So essentially you can really only major [in art studio] if you have money. There’s a grant, [but] it’s $500, which is nothing [compared to the cost of supplies], and they only give it to two people, and it’s not need-based at all. 

In terms of Finite, I have encountered so many administrative roadblocks. Money was the biggest issue for the whole thing. And it’s not like Wesleyan does not have the resources. I started the process of reaching out to everyone, reaching out for funding [and] a location for the show as soon as my senior year started in September. Even though I started literally seven months [ago], everything has been rushed in the month of April because of all of these obstacles that I encountered. 

But I just powered through and it’s happening. I made it. I don’t know how, but it happened. I got through. I’m still having some financial issues, and it’s definitely been stressing me out, but I’m just powering through. I’ve had to spend out of pocket for it as well, which has been difficult because I don’t have money to spend on it. And so I hope by doing this interview and having the show featured in The Argus that as many people as possible come [and] support for the event, whether that’s through attendance, financial support, or administrative support.

A: Can you tell me more about Finite, and what you hope to get out of the show?

SA: I think the impact that I will find most rewarding from this event is the experiences that people have and the love that they feel, either towards the event or towards the work that they put in, because so many people are involved. We have photographers, videographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, designers, [and] obviously models.  I hope that this event can boost people’s careers who are interested in pursuing design outside of college, through our invited designer because she’s very established. I saw that as an opportunity for her to not only expand the audience for her brand, but also for Wesleyan students who are interested to make those connections with her if they need to. 

But also, I think the main impact for me is the experience. I just want this event to be something that everyone involved and everyone that attends in the audience remembers. 

A: What are your plans after Wesleyan?

SA: [I’m] definitely trying to secure an opportunity ASAP. But in terms of the opportunities I’m looking for and where I see myself headed, honestly, there’s two sides. If [access to] resources wasn’t an issue, I definitely would take a gap year and model. That’s really what I want to do, but realistically, I most likely will [pursue] an opportunity either in creative direction, digital design, fashion design, content creation, [or] social media—things like that. I’ve dabbled in so much that I’m open to a lot, and I’m not necessarily set on one thing. 

I still am very interested in design, but I kind of see that as being something I pursue later on in life once I’ve had more experience in the fashion industry and I have a more established network and way more resources. I definitely want to model on the side too. What I want most, [is] to get signed by an agency. That will really be ideal. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Kat Struhar can be reached at

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