Changes in Parsons Senior Work Exhibit Leave Students in the Dark
After years of trying different ways to organize end of year presentations, Parsons has designed what administrators believe to be the most unified, exciting and public-friendly exhibition of senior work. Some Parsons seniors, however, are angry about the new plan.
The two-week-long exhibition, called the "Parsons Festival," has been designed to bring the work of all seniors together by simultaneously showing the work of all departments throughout the Parsons buildings. The festival will include lectures and symposia open to the public in the various spaces that students' work will be shown.
Some Parsons seniors, however, are less excited about the change because they have yet to hear any details about when and where they're showing their work.
Joel Towers, dean of Parsons, said the festival has been in the works after years of uncoordinated shows. Due to limitations of space, each department previously showed its senior work independently of one another, which meant some showed in March and others in May. "Nobody was satisfied with that," Towers said. "Ever."
Instead of the usual division among Parsons departments, Towers wants to use the festival to show the amount of varied and prolific work coming out of the school. By showing all the work at once, Towers believes that students will see the connection between the different departments that hasn't been apparent in the previously isolated shows.
According to an e-mail from Mark Hannah, the director of academic communications at Parsons, the dean first informed the faculty about the festival via an e-mail in December. Since the festival has required much planning and organization with university administrators, only recently have final plans been made. Communication to all faculty and students will commence in the upcoming weeks.
"The hope has been that there will be a chain of communication in which program directors communicate to their faculty who, in turn, communicate to their students," Hannah wrote. He said the dean's office also plans on sending a message to all faculty and staff to make sure all communication is uniform and correct.
With no legitimate information so far, some seniors are frustrated and impatient. "They've provided even less than minimal information," Nate Christie, a BA/BFA student in fine arts at Parsons, wrote in an e-mail. "I can't feel anything about the show yet except a frustration about us, the students, who need that info the most, clearly being the least important and most inconvenienced piece of this puzzle."
The deans at Parsons hope the upcoming communication will ease discomfort and confusion, and understand that change can be troubling. "Uncertainty always comes with innovation," said Sven Travis, dean of the school of art, media and technology. "I think this is going to be a really good thing. We genuinely believe that it's where Parsons needs to go."
The festival is planned to start on the weekend of May 6 and continue the following week, replacing normally scheduled classes with festival-related activities and events. A map and calendar with all events and senior work exhibits will be provided.
How students feel about the festival will not be clear until they receive substantial information. Yet, those in the dean's office remain confident that the Parsons community will enjoy showing their work and seeing the work of others in the festival.
"I'm expecting it to be wildly innovative and humorous and enjoyable," Towers said. "I'm looking for it to have that festival character and for students to present their work in a way that makes people's heads turn. It has impact in some way. But that's really up to the students. It's what they do."