People of color have been pioneers in fields of art and design, although we continue to be significantly underrepresented in positions of power and compensation. Despite our rich contributions on which these industries are built, the foundation of work and history created by Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous communities are often rendered invisible. This pattern of oppressive systems continues to undervalue, exploit, and render historical and cultural work as if they are not built into the groundwork for institutions to thrive. (under)REPRESENT(ed) is an exhibition that resists this systemic exclusion from educational and professional institutions and practices. This collection of work features artists of color, all of whom are alumni of Parsons, who address race and identity as a central theme in their art, design, tech, curricular, research and cultural organizing practices. As in all effective social movements and social justice initiatives, we choose to center the experiences and wisdom of those most deeply impacted by these oppressive frameworks. In an era which challenges our existing tools of resistance, we are moved by an urgency to hold space for examples of the power generated by creative practices that explore the lived experience of race and which work towards dismantling systems of racism.

(under)REPRESENT(ed) is by no means exhaustive. It attempts to graph across the axis of time, rendering palpable an undercurrent of the initial historical spirit of Parsons and The New School. The work made by this intergenerational group of artists seamlessly slips in and out of each other creating a cacophony of positions and voices: from the complexity of racial identification in the Dominican Republic, to the uninterrogated liminal spaces present in the conversation around identitarian politics, to a textual exploration of black masculinity and the interior emotional landscapes present and at risk, to the impact of a racist immigration system on our communities.

Some may call (under)REPRESENT(ed) a charge “up against a space that only by pushing into or rubbing up against it lets you know that it was there at all, and maybe was there all along*”. It is a reminder of what collective action can do and ultimately a reminder that we are here together. (under)REPRESENT(ed) functions as an action and an invitation.

Organized by a collective of Parsons Alumni of Color

Havanna Fisher, BFA Fashion Design ’14, BA The Arts ’14

Havanna Fisher Newby is a budding interdisciplinary artist and designer from Harlem who works across the fields of design, performing arts and film. She has a profound interest in using her skills and gifts to combine the arts with education to bring about political awareness and thus probable change within the American landscape of ideological identity as well as creating a holistic approach to living life together. The basis for this deep enriched passion in community service via the arts stems from my experiences growing up in Harlem. www.havannafisher.com

Yelaine Rodríguez, BFA Fashion Design ’13

Yelaine Rodriguez is an artist, educator, curator, and cultural organizer. She holds a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design. With The Bronx as her backdrop, Rodriguez's combination of costume design and sculptures creates whimsical revealing imagery of the complexities of her experiences as a Dominican American raised in The South Bronx. Through her art, Rodriguez’s explores her dreams and realities, blending the lines between fashion and performance arts as a search of self-discovery.

Rodriguez expressed an early interest in the arts. As a sophomore in high school, she acquired a scholarship with the Parsons Scholars Program to attend Pre College Academy classes. She continued her undergraduate education in fashion design at Parsons School of Design, where she attained a scholarship to study photojournalism in Paris, and Fashion Design at Central St. Martins London and graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design.

Rodriguez’s dedication to her community has been the driving force behind the creation of La Lucha, an artist-based organization that brings Dominican and Haitian artist together. As the founder of La Lucha, Rodriguez curates with the purpose of educating future generation. www.yelainenyc.com

(under)REPRESENT(ed) equity + social justice advisor: Gail Drakes

Scherezade García, BFA Illustration ’90

Scherezade is an interdisciplinary visual artist born in Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic and based in Brooklyn, New York. Garcia’s work frequently evokes memories of faraway home and the hopes and dreams that accompany planting roots in a new land. By tackling the collective memory as well as the ancestral memory in her public intervention and studio-based practice, Garcia presents a quasi-mythical portrait of migration and cultural colonization.

Scherezade’s work is included in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington DC, El Museo del Barrio in NYC, The Housatonic Museum of Art in CT, and El Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo.

Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; “Skin I’m in: Contemporary Dominican Art” from El Museo del Barrio’s permanent collection; “¡Merengue! Visual Rhythms/Ritmos Visuales” at El Museo del Barrio; The Caribbean Abroad: Contemporary Arts and Latino Migration at the Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ.

Recently, Garcia was a recipient of the 2015 Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant.
Also, her large-scale piece “The Liquid Highway”, commissioned by Miller Theatre at Columbia University was on view until June 2016. She is currently represented by Lyle O Reitzel Art Gallery in Santo Domingo and New York, and is faculty at Parsons The New School for Design in NYC. www.scherezade.net

Sable Elyse Smith, MFA Design and Technology ’13

Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist and writer based in New York. Her practice considers memory and trauma while enacting an undoing of language. She works from the archive of her own body creating new syntax for knowing and not knowing, thereby marking the difference between witnessing and watching. To see is unbearable. She has performed at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, Eyebeam, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. Her work has also been screened at Birkbeck Cinema in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries, London, Artist Television Access, San Francisco, and MoMA Ps1, New York. Her writing has been published in Radical Teacher, Selfish, Studio Magazine and with Recess Art’s Critical Writing Fellowship. She is currently working on her first book. Smith has received grants & fellowships from Creative Capital, the Queens Museum, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Franklin Furnace Fund, and Art Matters. She is currently part-time faculty at Parsons The New School for Design and will be a visiting Faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University this Fall in the Sculpture and Extended Media department. sableelysesmith.com

(under)REPRESENT(ed) research assistant: Claudine Brantley

Joelle Riffle, BFA Communication Design ’13

Joelle Riffle is an independent graphic designer and graphic artist, in addition to her full-time role as the Program Administrator at the Parsons Scholars Program. Her design practice and administrative work overlaps in the desire to approach work, both creative and administrative, people-first and to collaborate for action, particularly around underrepresented identities in creative fields. Joelle is currently focusing on developing and growing two projects, which she founded and exercise key elements of her practice - design, organizing, and content strategy. Designers Available seeks to match designers interested in contributing their time and resources to non-profit and grassroots organizations and create shared knowledge with designers on responsible and informed practices for working with community partners. Ladybugs is an exploration of friendships between women and queer people and aims to start conversations about the importance of those bonds in our personal lives, collective unconsciousness, and pop culture. Joelle was also a Center for Urban Pedagogy Design Fellow in 2016 and has been an organizer of the Yeah, That’s What She Said collective for two years. Joelle seeks to deepen her creative practice and research to explore the relationship between graphic design and social movements, and how the ecosystem of the designed world relates to power and privilege.
Joelleriffle.com | designersavailable.com | ladybugs.aslittlefear.co

Nadia Williams, BFA Fashion Design ’01

Nadia Williams is Assistant Professor of Diversity & Inclusion at Parsons School of Design, and Director of the Parsons Scholars Program, which is a college access program that centers historically marginalized identities in art and design fields. She has taught pre-college and college design courses over the course of 14 years at Parsons and in numerous New York City public schools as a teaching artist. As a graduate of the Parsons BFA Fashion Design department, Nadia began her career designing in corporate environments, and later moved to Mexico, where she explored part of her cultural identity and her commitment to social justice through independent and collective design projects. In her current role, Nadia has the joy of working with young people who actively give her hope for the future. She collaborates on various social justice initiatives across The New School and across NYC, and is faculty advisor for the university-wide student organizations Sisters Art Salon (a collective of women artists of color) and The DREAM Team (which creates space for undocumented students within an immigrant justice framework). At the center of all of Nadia’s work is the belief that creative thinkers and makers as well as those who are tasked with devising creative solutions simply to survive are are positioned to make the most meaningful societal impacts. Nadia is a proud mother of a headstrong toddler, and feels fortunate to be surrounded by love and resilience in her family and personal and professional relationships.

(under)REPRESENT(ed) research assistant: Barbara Byrd

Barbara E Byrd is a multidisciplinary artist from Hartford, CT who relocated in New York City. She is a graduate of the Fine Arts BFA program at Parsons School Design and is currently finishing her last semester at Eugene Lang College of Liberal arts to receive her BA in Screen Studies. barbaraebyrd.com