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OU student entrepreneur takes art to new heights with hand-designed T-shirts

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Virginia Sitzes, studio art senior and tea lover, has a goal for her art career: to travel around in a bus and sell T-shirts and tea to people all around.

Sitzes loves the idea of traveling in a bus and selling goods because it allows her art to be accessible and wearable, and they create a community, she said.

“Picture this: a bunch of friends selling tea, T-shirts and other goodies," she said. "It’s hard to think of settling into one place right now, so making art and traveling sounds amazing.”

The idea for Sitzes to transform her art to T-shirts started in an advanced printmaking class. The studio art program is incredible, she said. 

“I asked a professor how to use a machine with plastisol ink, which is oil-based and lasts longer, so I learned that and started making shirts,” Sitzes said.

Sitzes sells her hand-dyed T-shirts for $15 at second Friday art walks in downtown Norman and through direct contact, but Stizes has primarily built her artistic community through her friends support, she said.

Sitzes' first shirts were focused around rock climbing puns like, “nutty” or “peace, love and crack.” Each T-shirt showcased a rock climber, climbing crack. The term “climbing crack” means a rock climber is following cracks in the rock as they climb, Sitzes said.

Jordan Spivey, senior communications major, met Sitzes at the Huston Huffman Fitness Center Climbing Wall, she said.

“I noticed her because of her then-long, white hair," Spivey said. "When she came off the wall I was like ‘hey! You go to Young Life!’ and we became best friends shortly after that."

Sitzes has inspired Spivey to be humble and determined in everything she does, Spivey said.

“I don't think I've ever heard her brag about her art one time," Spivey said.  "Scratch that — I never have heard her brag about anything."

Juanita Torres, a junior human relations major, said she wears Sitzes' art from time to time.

“My friends and I are constantly wearing Virginia’s T-shirts and showcasing her art," Torres said.

One word Torres would use to describe Sitzes is unique, Torres said.  

“Virginia has her own unique style, and she won’t change that. Her work ethic translates into my dreams and passions because she never conforms,” Torres said.

Although Torres isn’t an artist, Sitzes' work teaches her to be true to herself, Torres said.

“Virginia inspires me and my friend group because she is determined and confident in her work,” she said.

What sets apart Sitzes from other artists is her desire to travel, Spivey said.  

“I see Virg traveling the world with her art. I'm trying to convince her to live in Colorado with me and sell her art in my coffee shop once I open it,” said Spivey.

Sitzes' art is recognizable because it’s one of a kind, Spivey said.

“She will be one of those grandmas who dresses super cool and long boards around with her grandkids," she said. "She'll probably be a kick-ass rock climber grandma too.”

For more information about Virginia Sitzes' art visit her website at virginiasitzes.com 

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