Parsons School of Design Launches Innovative Virtual Art, Design, and Fashion Festival that Celebrates Student Resilience, Creativity, and Inspiration

Parsons Art, Media, and Technology alumni designed the virtual platform, bringing the five schools together in a vibrant, interactive, and party atmosphere

Solange Knowles and her Creative Agency Saint Heron are partnering with Parsons Fashion to highlight student thesis work in an immersive online experience, coming in July

The online exhibition encourages repeated viewing and compelling ways to engage and interact with student work


New York, May 27, 2020 -- The New School's Parsons School of Design presents Parsons Festival 2020, a virtual celebration of the leading art and design school's graduating students, intellectual, innovative, and cutting-edge artistic achievements.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented students with many challenges but despite the adversity, they demonstrated a heightened level of resilience, flexibility, and creativity that is represented by their exceptional work. The site recently launched with student work that is currently available for viewing from departments including Architecture, Data Visualization, Design and Technology, Fine Arts, Photography, Interior Design, and Strategic Design and Management. In the coming weeks, the work of Communication Design (To be announced), Integrated Design (To be announced), and Transdisciplinary Design (To be announced) students will be added to the website, culminating with the School of Fashion in early July. Award-winning musician Solange Knowles and her creative agency Saint Heron, are partnering with the School of Fashion to launch Here and Now, a virtual festival that will highlight the work of students across the fashion programs. 

This year’s group of artists, designers, filmmakers, illustrators, architects and photographers, have produced a body of work that encourages repeated viewings and the opportunity for extended immersion in that work. 

Upcoming special events include, the School of Art and Design History and Theory’s Spring 2020 Festival showcase on May 30th, and on June 5th, the Urban Graduate programs at Parsons will host From the Epicenter: Infrastructures of Inclusion, a project that addresses the inequities and injustices of the last four decades of global development and economic growth policies.

“Parsons students pivoted quickly and responded to the moment with creativity, resilience, and perseverance,” says Rachel Schreiber, Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design. “The added bonus of the extraordinary work that they’ve created for this virtual festival is that it can be shared with an even larger audience in the art and design community than ever before, and for a longer period of time. Despite the adversity presented by COVID-19, this festival embodies our students' best qualities as designers, artists, strategists, and scholars who are committed to creative problem solving, critical thinking, and social justice.” 

“When approached to design and develop the Parsons Festival online portal, we knew we wanted to create a platform that captured the excitement of graduation, while also highlighting the resilient spirit of the Parsons class,” says Alums Nika Fisher and Dylan Fisher of the design firm Labud. “Through a series of lighthearted real-time interactions, we gave students the opportunity to celebrate together, but at a distance. The site keeps tally of these interactions and prominently displays how many users are currently viewing the site to reinforce this idea of a communal party and encourage users to come back for another visit.” 

The following is a list of each department’s student work that is currently available for viewing. 

School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) 

BFA and MFA Design and Technology

HINDSIGHT is an interactive thesis show celebrating the designers, creators, and innovators of Design and Technology’s Class of 2020. The work contains six themes: 
1 Memoirs, which calls for a re-examination of the self. 
2. An analysis and examination of our Consumptive Habits. 
3. Discoveries of new avenues for Self-Care.  
4 New Solutions for seemingly intractable problems. 
5. Innovative thinking about how we Articulate ourselves in an ever-changing world.  
6. Generate Fresh Questions raises questions that have been posed by the progress we have made and rearticulates old questions yet to be answered. 

MS Data Visualization 

The department presents 18 projects that demonstrate the rigorous and painstaking research and analysis of the graduates and is divided into four themes: Data and Policy, Health and Livelihood, Media and Society, and Food and Culture. Projects include a visualization of American voters' unconscious response to political advertising and media using brain data, and an exploration of the relationship between the climate crisis and sleep health. 

BFA and MFA Fine Arts 

This virtual show features the artwork of graduating students in painting, sculpture, video, installation, performance, and other media.  It showcases the depth and breadth of student approaches to art making. 

AAS Graphic Design 

The work of the AAS Graphic design community goes beyond traditional analog processes that foster sustainable thinking and social justice. The website is a landscape that links graduates’ projects to reflect cross-pollination, encounters of the familiar with the unexpected, and new meanings in the margins.

BFA Illustration 

The wide range of authorial voices and creative applications includes books, comics, zines, paintings, drawings, prints, animation, motion, film, sculpture, objects, and installation. The unique and versatile visions of the senior class exemplifies their  resourcefulness and resilience. 

BFA Photography

This year’s extensive online exhibition is the culmination of work produced by a diverse group of student voices examining themes ranging from grief and mental illness, to black identity, and the representation of marginalized individuals. 

School of Art and Design History and Theory (ADHT) 

MA Fashion Studies and MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies 

Students built a virtual video exhibition, using widely available digital collections such as those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Library of Congress. The resulting work covers a wide range of fashion studies topics, and serves as a laboratory for exploration and teaching through online collections.  

School of Constructed Environments (SCE) 

Masters Architecture 

Mobility is an overarching theme that has provided the framework for a range of individual architectural pursuits throughout the year. Students thought deeply about the design of subway stations, bicycle infrastructures, multi-modal transportation centers, and post-automobile mobility in relation to the block structure of the city and equity surrounding changing infrastructures. 

BFA Architectural Design 

Student projects are related to “the body” referring to both the human body and the human social body (or bodies), as constructed and framed through the material conditions of architecture, urban fabric, and interior space. 

MFA Industrial Design 

Projects work to expand the notion of product design to include a greater understanding of global supply and value chains, and intentionality towards balancing economic and social inequities.  Students have created innovative and provocative designs that move forward or challenge the field of product and industrial design.

AAS, BFA, and MFA Interior Design 

AAS students explored design concepts for residential, retail, workplace, and hospitality interiors, analyzing the relationship between interiors and decorative arts. 

BFA students selected a New York City “subculture” or scene (IE Punks, Kiki Ball, Hipsters) and explored how interiors allow these groups to initiate, grow, thrive, and sometimes die. Students selected a subcultural group for which to design a space and began to develop their program with analyses of the social and spatial infrastructure that supports the group. 

The imposed seclusion presented by the pandemic became a challenge for the MFA Interior Design students to deep dive into invention, introspection, and the unimaginable. The imposed isolation forces a re-definition of interiority as our homes suddenly magnify as a shielded place of refuge, while technology allows the individual to feel even more boundless and permeable. 

MFA Lighting Design 

Student work addresses broader questions on the role of light in relation to other disciplines within the constructed environment and the potential of light and lighting design to respond to the most challenging questions facing our society and culture. 

BFA Product Design 

These projects consider objects and systems that address contemporary and speculative future realities including sustainability, manufacturing/labor, social justice, and technological change while exploring materials, fabrication, aesthetics, and social engagement in both local and global contexts.

School of Design Strategies (SDS) 

Parsons Scholars

In the 2020 Capstone project, scholars created artworks focused on the idea of family, highlighting the different ways art and culture can be seen, understood, and experienced. Parsons Scholars Program is a three-year college access art and design program for NYC public high school students. Students from a wide range of high schools spend their Saturdays and summers developing art and design skills and exploring related college and career paths. 

BBA and MS Strategic Design and Management 

Students designed solutions for partners including UNICEF, E. & J. Gallo, and L’Oreal, developing strategies offering long-range actionable insights that help to clarify questions that a company, organization or individual is examining. In their research, students embrace truly progressive and inclusive practices.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

Parsons School of Design at The New School is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of art and design disciplines, as well as online courses, degree and certificate programs. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.



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Media Contacts:

The New School
David Koeppel


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