Burnt-Out Art Student Tells Off Professor With Message Hiding In Plain Sight

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By: Elyse Wanshel


A college student has turned the act of telling someone off into an art form.


Lama Ali, who attends school in Virginia, had three final assignments due on the same day for her fashion drawing class. Exhausted after working on one painting for seven hours straight, the 20-year-old decided to include a message in American Sign Language to her professor:


"You got me fucked up," a bunch of hands in the painting spell out in ASL, interwoven among the female figures.


"Honestly the idea just came to me while I was finishing up the piece," Ali told The Huffington Post. "I was looking at it and thought, 'This could really use something else.' And then the idea struck me: Why not secretly express how I was feeling while struggling at the library at 4 a.m.?"

Ali, who does not know ASL, told HuffPost she taught herself a little bit just for this particular assignment.


"You know it's bad when you have to learn a whole other language to express how done you are," she said.


Once the fashion design major had finished her masterpiece, she posted it to Twitter on Dec. 7, where it has received over 113,000 likes and 48,000 retweets. And people really love her unbridled level of full-on pettiness.

"As petty as the idea was, I was actually really excited to make this piece," Ali said. "Because I really felt like I was making something that showed my creativity and emotion rather than just completing the assignment."


But, pettiness aside, most people straight up love it:

Ali said that she decided to use sign language because she wanted the message to be there, but not be immediately clear. She also wanted to practice drawing hands, so ASL seemed like a great way of marrying both those ideas.

Lama Ali 

"I remembered seeing a post on Tumblr long ago with a similar phrase in sign, and I thought the letters would look cool with the figures on the painting."


Inspired by the post, she decided to look up the letters in ASL to spell out the message. Someone on Twitter even did the good work of circling them in the painting:


Ali told HuffPost that when she finally presented the piece to her professor in her class, he absolutely loved it.


"Most of my friends in class actually knew about the secret message, so I was really surprised when no one laughed or blew my cover during critique."


She also admits that her professor still doesn't know about the message, despite her post getting so much attention.


​​​​​​​"The last time I checked, he still had no clue," she said.

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