Category Archives: Student Bios

Bios of our students from both Fall 2014 and Spring 2015

Lisa Mari

I am a first year student in the Design Studies program. I was born and grew up in Oslo, Norway, where I have been working as a graphic designer in digital media for the last couple of years. My academic background is in Visual Communication, and Art and Design with a focus on textiles.

During my undergraduate studies I assisted a fashion designer, Peter Løchstøer, who at the time co-directed a project with a strong vision. He was working with the Sally Ann Project, a fair-trade project established in Bangladesh by a Norwegian couple in 1997. Together with well-known designers in Norway, they design and produce interior and textile products in Bangladesh, Moldova and Kenya. Working with design in this perspective awoke my interest not only in Fair Trade, but also in sustainable design. Sally Ann had a vision about a world with a sustainable development and justice, giving everyone a chance to reach their full potential. I believe a design process should not only encompass aesthetics and technical specifications, but it should also embrace environmental and social sustainability and responsibility.

The participatory approach and the cross-disciplinary forms to be found in Guatemala Después is just a few of the components making up this project, but it is essentially what drew me to the class, as well as my long-term interest for art, social justice and social responsibility. I look forward to learning more about curating, exhibition design, and working with artists and curators in Guatemala.



Ali Cherasia

My name is Ali Cherasia and I am pursuing my Masters in Media Studies. This semester my goal is to tack down what I will tackle as my thesis project so I can begin this process next semester. I have a background in (French) cultural studies and political science. Last semester, I took a participatory research methods class with Nitin in which we were asked to design our own qualitative research projects and employ participatory methods. I chose to research Street Harassment, Sexuality & Public Space. By looking at this daily phenomenon I examined how institutionalized social hierarchies and power relationships are upheld in public space and the effect that this has on how different groups negotiate those public spaces. This research project grew into a personal project that I continued on my own where I became really interested in looking at where art, personal narrative and public space intersect.

I was drawn to this course because of its participatory and collaborative nature. I am also completing a programming production internship at a cultural organization (FIAF) this semester and I think that doing this side by side with this class will allow me to learn about public programming in a fuller scope. I look forward to learning about curating and exhibition design while being able to contribute my skills to this project. I am really interested in continuing to look at where art, personal narrative and public space intersect in a context that I am personally unfamiliar with, Guatemala Despues.


Walis J

I am an experimental filmmaker, educator and researcher whose work documents experiences of the urban landscape through oral history, film essay, sound, performance (walking practices) and short narrative. I am particularly interested in the intersection of documentary film and performance. Early on, when 16 mm film was the primary material of documentary practice, I trained as a documentary film editor. I have a Master’s degree in international/intercultural relations and am working toward a final thesis project in Integrative Media Arts and Advanced Documentary film and Video from Hunter College. I’ve researched conflict resolution in the early years of post-apartheid South Africa and, later, in New York, became involved in educational philanthropy working toward creating equity in under -resourced neighborhoods in New York and across the country.

My thesis project is a participatory performance video focused on the practice of redlining by banks and other government institutions in  New York, particularly African-American neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant, Weeksville and Fort Greene. The performance and filmed documentation will expose critical links between housing segregation, urban gentrification, economic displacement and cultural/historical erasure. I am a member of the recently formed Diverse Filmmaker Alliance, a collection of documentarians, narrative and experimental who workshop, formulate and support new artistic strategies for our work.


By Ivana

Hi everyone! I’m Ivana, I’m from Argentina, and I’m a first year student from the Design Studies master program. My formal background is in business, I went to business school and worked in consulting firms such as Deloitte & Touche and small firms for the past six years, but my passion has always been art and design. I have a profound interest in the social world, which is why I’ve been involved with several Non-profit organizations ever since my high school years, and developed social business responsibility projects for the companies I was involved in.

My most significant work experience on a personal level was owning a multi-purpose space called “The Endless House” which mixed a little bit of gastronomy, art, design and music. There you could find pieces by some of the most promising Argentine contemporary artists, unique clothes and objects for sale at the store, and listen to performances by independent musicians. While working at The Endless house, I had the opportunity to meet designers, artists and musicians who taught me a different perspective of the world and it helped me realize in what field I wanted to work which is design. I fell in love with artists and designers and their process thinking, which is why I decided to come to Parsons to study design.

I love learning about other cultures and I have had the opportunity to visit several countries over the years. I went backpacking for a year through Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa and met people from all over the world. Visiting countries so different to my own was a life changing experience that taught me about the universality of communication.

I wanted to join this class because it combines my interests in Art, my passion for politics in Latin-America and social responsibility, and I am looking forward to learning more about this group of artists and how they expressed their grieve through Art.


Laura Sanchez Bio

Hi everyone, I’m a first years masters student in the Design studies Program. Originally from Oakland, California I’ve spent most of the last six years working in urban development, philanthropy, and digital media. As an undergraduate I studied History and World Arts and Cultural Studies at UCLA. Always fascinated by why people behave the way they do, or why societies function as they do– I constantly find myself interpreting the present through the lens of the past.

This appreciation for the past is a large part of what drew me to this course. An often invisible yet inescapable force, I’m curious about the ways that history and memory become embodied in designed objects, spaces and social practices. In these resulting forms, how does design simultaneously reflect and project a specific set of values, beliefs and behaviors? What are the ethical implications for designers with respect to fully engaging with both personal and shared histories when designing? How can design and designers make the past more present in order to open up new spaces for critical reflection, contemplation, and even cooperation? I look forward to exploring these questions and many more throughout the semester.

Mae W

It’s pretty late and I’ve put this on the back shelf of my closet for far too long. Like most folks, I disdain writing about myself, so I’ve decided to use this profile as an opportunity to write a “flash fiction” piece. The only difference between this one and the others I regularly write is that this one happens to be non-fiction. I have thirteen minutes left. My name is Mae Wiskin and I am the product of a tiny but ferociously strong Thai woman and an overly garrulous Russian Jew from Brooklyn. I was born in Bangkok; however, I’ve moved so many times that countries often blur into one another. I have a non-rolly suitcase and sometimes write letters on my Underwood Typewriter because I adore the sound of clicks against ink and paper. I’m a creative writer, but received an honors degree in human rights law from The University of Washington in Seattle. During college I spent a year in Cairo and traveled throughout the Middle East, collecting stories, images and colorful experience. After college, I moved to Mexico to focus on my art whilst also working for a micro-finance organization in Oaxaca. I wish I could write that I’m fluent in Spanish but I’m not. I can speak a lot of languages to a shallow degree including Bemba, which is the tribal language I learned during my time serving as a global health Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia, a puzzle-shaped country in southern Africa.

I am moved by all things social justice and art, and I am profoundly excited to be pursuing a Masters of Design Studies at Parsons because I believe you should never stop learning and following that which makes you truly come alive. As it stands now, I would like to unravel the notion of home, identity and community. I am somewhat obsessed with “cognitive maps,” migration, relocation, contested spaces and urban planning. Although I am not sure how this passion will manifest itself, I enjoy musing about unexpected homes made of unconventional materials in atypical locations, both nationally and internationally. I believe that every individual is trying to find “their place in the world,” and I would like to use “Design” in order to reimage urban spaces and help people foster community. It is my dream to work for an organization that fuses social justice with art that people use. Time’s up.2e8b6ab

Novel ‘Idea’ Sholars – BIO


novel bio pic

In 2004 Novel Idea started her own media production company, 1Nmediasalon, which focuses on producing /curating new media and art projects as well as the sustainability of those creating it. Her independent arts curation site,, houses interviews from some of Brooklyn New York’s most provocative independent artists.

Novel’s recent work includes a transmedia project called Naked Layers, which explores themes related to black women and the body, Mediaunpopular, an experimental documentary project in collaboration with The New School, which deals with popular culture through found digital media, and Black Banana which challenges existing views of cultural inclusion and the Afro-Latino artist.

Novel Idea is currently pursuing her Masters in Media at The New School For Public Engagement.



Hello everyone, my name is Katerine Vasquez but most people call me “Kat”

I’m a journalist, currently working on obtaining my MA in media studies. I have a BA in Broadcast Journalism.

I’m all about being in front of the camera; traveling and writing about my experience in those places I go to visit. I’m also a Christian so I tend to look at things from a Christian angle, but also from a practical and humanitarian point of view. As part of my hubby and vacation time, I love doing missionary work in different parts of the world. By far I’ve been to Canada, France, Colombia, Peru, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Uganda. I enjoy going to third world countries where I’m able to develop a personal relationship with the people that I meet. I enjoy putting together documentaries and films that can educate those who are not aware of the poverty in other countries.

I took this class because I know many people from Guatemala, I was eager to know more about their country after hearing their experience with governmental issues, poverty and violence. Guatemala is also a place I would like to visit, research about Guatemalan’s life style and document about just like the other countries I’ve been to.

Valentina’s Bio

I am a visual anthropologist and research scholar at Parsons from Ca’ Foscari University in venice. My involvement with Guatemala dates back to the year 1999/2000, when I was living in Guatemala in order to carry on the fieldwork for my Philosophy Degree thesis. I got there after meeting in Venice, my home town, a Q’ueqchi’ indigenous woman who had been fighting in the guerrilla. For one year I lived in Nebaj and in the CPR (Communities of People in Resistance), in the so-called Ixil area. During this period I interviewed about 60 Ixil women who had enrolled in the EGP (Ejercito Guerrillero de los Pobres). I was accompanied by a young and smart Ixil woman, Helena, who had been a guerrilla fighter herself and was at the time 16 years old. The ex-fighters explained to us the reasons why they decided to enroll in the guerrilla and recalled their experience as “guerrilleras”. While the main corpus of interviews was handed in to an indigenous NGO formed by ex indigenous guerrilla leaders (FUNDAMAYA) what has gradually caught my interest and became my main research topic has been the relationship between non-indigenous and indigenous guerrilla fighters inside the EGP, and also between men and women. 

This experience has surely marked my life. Since then, despite I never went back to Guatemala, my focus of interest has been the space of relationship and encounter between indigenous and non-indigenous people, especially in Paraguay. As part of my PhD in visual anthropology, I made a documentary about the history of an indigenous community in Paraguay (Casado’s Legacy), that has toured around a variety of film festivals. My actual project is still focused in the same area, and it is related to the history of a tannin factory where indigenous and non-indigenous people have worked together for about 100 years.

I am still in contact with Helena and the ex-guerrilla leaders who work in FUNDAMAYA, and who are currently organizing an indigenous university in the Ixil area.

Maira Nolasco


I started off at New School in the documentary studies program. I produced, edited, filmed, cried and sweat over a short documentary about a soccer team in Brooklyn. The soccer team is made up of latin american men with a shared history of immigration. After their long days of work they make their way to a local middle school gym, where they play about 5x/ week-for some of them it is their income.

Before New School I was studying anthropology, human rights and art studio at Hunter College. I hope to merge all of these interests into a visual anthropology fusion.

i’m currently working on two projects. One is called “black banana,” with Novel Scholars, exploring the lack of afro representation in central american art. The second is “border/culture,” a web series for the boundaries that exist between cultural identity, both real and imagined. (