I Heart My School: Parsons School of Design

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Image of the Parsons School of Design via Flickr, by CC 2.0

While reading through this year’s submissions for our I Heart My School scholarship, there were a few essays that really stood out to us. Joy Crutchfield of Northern Arizona University, won our scholarship with a detailed tour of Flagstaff, and Tamia Ejekpokpo, on her way to the University of Southern California earned a runner-up spot with her essay about Asa Philip Randolph defying her expectations.

This week, we’d like to share our second and final runner-up: Anneli Goeller’s essay about the tight-knit artistic community at the Parsons School of Design in New York.

If you’re feeling inspired, apply for our spring scholarship.

In my first years at Parsons The New School for Design, my background and practice were more closely aligned with traditional, studio-based fine arts. As I progressed as a student and as an artist, I gradually started to experiment with digital technology. As my focus on technology deepened, I had to rapidly learn digital software to support this process. Since earning my BFA, my work has fully transformed into the digital realm. I wish to pursue a master’s degree in a program that will support experimental media, direct my research toward digital media and the internet, and be a part of a community of practitioners well-versed in technology and digital theory.

Even though I am looking at multiple universities for my graduate degree, my time at Parsons The New School for Design was the most rewarding four years of my life. I grew and flourished during my time at Parsons. It was my experience as an undergrad that led me to continue my education in graduate school.

The New School is known for its New York City location. However, few people realize that it simultaneously has the feel of a college campus. The courtyard within the Eugene Lang liberal arts building felt like the center of the university. If I was looking for a classmate, I would go right to the courtyard and undoubtedly find a whole group of my friends there. When encouraged to go out into the larger university for a group project, the courtyard is the first place we would go. There have been protests there, performance art pieces, and students playing music. It was great to know that as overwhelming as it is being a young college student in a huge metropolis like New York, there was always a place to see familiar faces and feel like a part of the university community.

Another great aspect of Parsons is its diverse student body. My artwork manifests in visual form through dystopian phenomena and a post-apocalyptic aesthetic. These works, which exist purely digitally, are representations of virtual landscapes not fully grounded to any one preexisting object in the natural world and are based in imagery that is representative of queer digital identity. As a young queer student, it was important to me to be surrounded by other LGBT students. I was able to take classes related to gender studies. One class in particular that helped shape the direction I wanted my work to go in was Queer Art History. I was able to learn about artists who are making work centered on their own queer identity. Although this is not something that was a key component to my work at the time I was at Parsons, it is a central theme in my work currently and as I pursue my graduate degree. Parsons provided me with the background and confidence to create work about my queer identity.

Additionally, international students make up 25% percent of the undergraduate population. I never had a class without an international student. This broadened my perspective and worldview. Every class was dynamic and every discussion had many perspectives. During art history classes there was always a student who had seen the work we were discussing in person, since we were all from different parts of the world.

An exceptional aspect of the fine arts program at Parsons is its size. There were just over 30 students in my year. In a city of over 8 million and a school of over 10,000 students, this allowed for the community to blossom. All the professors and students knew each other and each other’s work very well. We grew as students and artists together. Close relationships with each other’s work fostered a productive and safe environment of constructive critique.

This community of artists blossomed further because of our surroundings. In our final thesis year, each student was given their own studio in order to develop a cohesive thesis exhibition and studio practice. All of our studios were on the same floor, which fostered a hub of creativity and collaboration. Since leaving Parsons, I have not found a community of artists who work side by side in critique and collaboration.

— Anneli Goeller, Parsons School of Design


Header image by m01229, under CC 2.0