From Diego Rivera, to Elizabeth Catlett, to Willi Smith, to Jean-Michel Basquiat, people of color have been pioneers in fields of art and design. However, as the curators of an upcoming exhibition at The New School’s Parsons School of Design have observed, they continue to be significantly underrepresented in positions of power and compensation.
To shed light on the rich foundational contributions of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous communities — particularly those made by artists and designers of color who graduated from Parsons — the curators conceived of and launched (under)REPRESENT(ed). The exhibition features work by Parsons School of Design alumni of color whose creative practices explore the lived experience of race and aim to dismantle systems of racism.
“We are moved by an urgency to foreground the power generated by creative practices,” said the curators of the exhibition. “Our own experience as students, practicing artists, designers, educators and cultural organizers tells us that this work isn’t always given its due criticism or celebration in the classroom and other institutional spaces.”
The exhibition, which is on view at the Sheila C. Design Center’s Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue, closes on Sunday, October 29 and features an artist talk on Friday, October 27 at 6 p.m. Additional activities associated with (under)REPRESENT(ed) the can be found on the the exhibition website.
Initiated and organized by a collective of alumni of color, (under)REPRESENT(ed) features artists and designers working in a range of disciplines “who address and resist the systemic exclusion that prevails in educational and professional institutions and practices,” the curators say. The exhibition features a video from a digital and physical archive that affirms the future of people of African descent; a design research project that deals with the impact of hurricane season on an alum’s hometown in the Dominican Republic; a children’s book fable that reveals an allegory of the dangerous journey migrants often face to enter the United States; an online syllabus resource that explores the intersections of fashion and race; photographs that reflect on the historic status symbol and power of hair in Korean culture; and a multimedia project that promotes citizen journalism and challenges the normalization of police violence.
“I’m really excited and humbled to be featured in this exhibition,” says Alston Green, CGRD Illustration ’72, who played a lead role in the development of Hallmark’s popular Mahogany line of greeting cards. “I think a lot of people didn’t know what I did, but they know my work. This exhibition offers an opportunity to create that awareness, to observe the breadth of the contributions of artists of color.”
Parsons alumni featured in the exhibition are Salome Asega, MFA Design and Technology ’14, Rikki Byrd, MA Fashion Studies ’16, Raquel de Anda, MS Design and Urban Ecologies ’15, Nelson de Jesus Ubri, BFA Architectural Design ’15, Patricia Encarnación, BFA Communication Design ’14, Noelle Flores Théard, MFA Photography ’14, Scherezade Garcia, BFA Illustration ’90, Alston Green, CGRD Illustration ’72, Kim Jenkins, MA Fashion Studies ’13, Leslie Jimenez, BFA Fine Arts ’12, Sara Jimenez, MFA Fine Arts ’13, Yuni Kim Lang, BFA Communication Design ’09, Jeana Lindo, BFA Photography ’17, Robert Liu-Trujillo, BFA Illustration ’10, Joy McKinney, MFA Photography ’14, Joiri Minaya, BFA Fine Arts ’13, Ron Morrison, MS Design and Urban Ecologies ’15, Inyegumena Nosegbe, BFA Communication Design ’16, Ayodamola Okunseinde, MFA Design and Technology ’15, Isaac Paris, BFA Communication Design ’78, Kaitlynn Redell, MFA Fine Arts ’13, Jeff Staple, Illustration, Ken Tanabe, MFA Design and Technology ’04, James Terrell, MFA Painting ’02, Noelle Theard, MFA Photography ’14, Duncan Tonatiuh, BFA Integrated Design Curriculum ’08, BA Liberal Arts ’08, and Christopher Udemezue, BFA Integrated Design Curriculum ’08
The exhibition’s driving committee is comprised of Havanna Fisher, BFA Fashion Design and BA The Arts ’14, Scherezade García, BFA Illustration ’90, Joelle Riffle, BFA Communication Design ’13, Yelaine Rodríguez, BFA Fashion Design ’13, Sable Elyse Smith, MFA Design and Technology ’13, and Nadia Williams, BFA Fashion Design ’01. Its equity and social justice advisor is Gail Drakes and research assistants are Barbara Byrd and Claudine Brantley.