Parsons Festival runs in multiple locations, April 25 through May 25. Photo by Martin Seck.

Across the (Parsons) Universe: Parsons Festival 2014

Once a year, graduating Parsons students get a chance to show the world what they can do. It’s their opportunity to claim their place in a rising generation of art, design, and tech leaders and provide a glimpse into the future of creativity and innovation. Already in full swing and running through May 25, the Parsons Festival offers exhibitions, panel discussions, lectures, and open critiques showcasing the breadth of work coming out of Parsons.

“This annual event enables us to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process and the cross-disciplinary, collaborative work that comes out of our studios,” said Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers. “It’s a chance for the public to see what’s next from Parsons and to hear from some of the design luminaries we find inspiring.”

PicnicKit, by Malini Khargie, is part of a display of work by Parsons students for Areaware on display at Wanted Design, May 16 - 19.

PicnicKit, by Malini Khargie, is part of a display of work by Parsons students for Areaware on display at Wanted Design, May 16 – 19.

This year the festival offers a few significant firsts. Being the inaugural year of the University Center, 2014 marks the first time the BFA Fashion Show will take place in the new Tishman Auditorium (and on Livestream) (May 21). In addition, the exhibition Making/Meaning (April 28–May 23, Kellen Gallery), is Parsons’ first-ever major exhibition of student work curated by students. The exhibition explores the unique experience of a Parsons education, presenting work by more than 100 students across Parsons’ undergraduate and associate degree programs.

“Nearly a hundred years ago, the goal of art and design education programs like the Bauhaus was to improve the experience of being human through the design of everything in life.  Nicholas Fox Weber described it well when he stated that “each object one touches, the clothing one wears, the buildings one enters, and above all, the vision and enchantment of great art, alter our existence, sometimes subtly, at other moments indelibly.”

“This annual event enables us to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process and the cross-disciplinary, collaborative work that comes out of our studios,” said Parsons Executive Dean Joel Towers. “It’s a chance for the public to see what’s next from Parsons and to hear from some of the design luminaries we find inspiring.”

“Courses like the new Integrative Studio and Seminar classes offer a platform for our first year students to learn in a practical hands-on approach how to collaborate on art and design opportunities and engage with the world outside of the studio,” said Andrew Robinson, Assistant Professor of Art + Design. “These skills among others cascade outwards into the larger curriculum in each of our programs.  You can see evidence of this in the current Parsons Festival Making/Meaning exhibition where student projects range from large scale site-specific works to interdisciplinary collaborations from fashion and theatre to music and politics there are myriad examples of how our students respond to this call to improve the human experience through art and design.”

Student work will also be displayed at some of the city’s most prestigious venues, reflecting Parsons’ position in New York’s design community. Milk Studios (450 West 15th Street) will host the BFA Photography exhibition May 20–30, and Gucci (685 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor) will display looks from the MFA Fashion Design and Society program May 14–23.

On campus at Tishman Auditorium, luminaries from the world of design will share their experience and insights with students and visitors. The festival will offer intimate discussions with IDEO founder and design mastermind David Kelley (May 15) and legendary fashion designers Diane von Furstenberg (May 12) and Donna Karan (May 15).

All Parsons Festival events are open to the public.  For more information, including a full schedule of events, visit www.newschool.edu/parsonsfestival.