Crafting Memories

Roya Sullivan transforms Macy's store windows into elaborate holiday displays each winter with the goal of creating a memorable art experience for visitors.

By Abigail Fagan, published November 6, 2018 - last reviewed on January 1, 2019

Roya Sullivan transforms Macy's store windows into elaborate holiday displays each winter.  A painter and photographer by training, Sullivan has worked in visual merchandising for nearly 30 years and took on her current role in 2014. She continuously searches for inspiration, materials, and artwork to create unique installations in the flagship Herald Square store and many others.

Photo by Kent Miller
HOLIDAY CHEER: Roya Sullivan hopes her team’s artwork creates lasting memories for visitors.
Photo by Kent Miller

Q: How can art bring family or friends closer to one another?

When I was 9 years old, my parents took me to see the Mona Lisa. Everybody talked about it being the most coveted painting and the most well-painted portrait of a woman—so I thought it would be enormous and just out of this world. But when I arrived, it was so small and such an intimate experience. I saw the quality of the paint and the care that was given, and it didn't need to shout at you. I was inspired that this small painting could create such beauty, emotion, and movement.

I went back again and again—I've been to the Louvre five times now. I wanted to create a similar memory for my children, so I took them to see it. They were also curious about the fame surrounding the Mona Lisa, but once they got there, they understood. The scale is small, but what it represents, in a very quiet way, is someone's complete understanding of this woman's face.

To me, it felt as if I was giving a gift. Once you have a fond memory, you want to recreate that memory not just for yourself but for others. That's how traditions are born.

I try to do the same here at Macy's. I want visitors to have fun and discover surprising details in the display, such as the decorations on Santa's sleigh or the realistic features of a New York City subway station. I want them to enjoy the craftsmanship and beautiful artistry. But most important, I hope the experience resonates with them and creates a memory that they can then pass on to their children and loved ones.