Press Release


Second Nature

Parsons Fine Arts

2017 MFA Thesis Exhibition

Curated by Chelsea Haines


April 21–29, 2017

Gallery Hours: 12pm – 6pm

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 20, 6–8 PM


Westbeth Gallery
55 Bethune Street

New York, NY 10014


Parsons School of Design is pleased to announce Second Nature, the 2017 Parsons Fine Arts MFA Thesis Show curated by Chelsea Haines.


Katie Chambers, Yeu Ryang Choi, catherine fenton bernath (cfb), Francesca Fiore, James Hsieh, Luma Jasim, Shenyuan Ke, Cali D. Kurlan, Bridget Moreen Leslie, Liu Xin, Daniel Llaría Gaspar, Marija Marković, Haleigh Nickerson, Lydia Nobles, Robert Panichpakdee, Lucas Pérez, Mihika Shah, Gregory Simoncic, Justin Sterling, Yue Sun, Hillary Wagner, Daria Zhestyreva.


Second Nature offers new artistic interventions and observations of a fragile world: a world in which technics and ideology have merged to produce a complex image-landscape in which traditional notions of truth and reality can no longer be taken for granted, and even nature itself has been fundamentally altered by human intervention. In this uncertain and challenging moment, in 2017, this diverse group of artists, informed by their shared experiences and working proximity over the last two years, are developing methods to critique, analyze, and recover vulnerable images, materials, and relations. Together and separately, their working processes have become another kind of second nature—an almost instinctual critical approach to looking at and making images—formed in the intensive learning and working environment of the Parsons MFA Program. Second Nature is both a commentary on our present, and a proposition for other ways of working and exploring how this group of artists has mediated the world around them.


For more information about the thesis exhibition at Westbeth, please


Chelsea Haines is an independent curator and doctoral candidate in art history at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research and curatorial work explores often antagonistic relationships between art, politics, and cultural identity. She has curated and co-curated solo projects with artists including Theaster Gates (Vera List Center for Art and Politics), Dor Guez (The James Gallery), and Jon Rubin (9th Shanghai Biennial), and has curated group exhibitions for organizations including the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Residency Unlimited, and Portland State University.


The MFA in Fine Arts offers an exciting, critically engaged 2-year program that is a combination of studio, theory and professional practices. Being a part of both Parsons and the New School University, the program is uniquely positioned within an educational environment that includes a wide spectrum of activity, ranging from rigorous formal and aesthetic investigations to a number of pressing social and political concerns. Our faculty are celebrated members of the New York art community who exhibit and publish worldwide and our students hail from numerous backgrounds and cultures and working with a variety of media and methods — including painting, drawing, sculpture, video, performance, digital media, installation and photography.  A Transdisciplinary Seminar reaches into the larger New School community with themes such as Art and Afro Futurism, Art and Poetry, Art and Science and Feminist Art Practices. Parsons Fine Arts is situated within the School of Art Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design. Students have the opportunity to take electives across Parsons and the internationally recognized New School for Social Research. Our international faculty has been exhibited at the Whitney Biennale, Museum of Modern Art, documenta and the Sydney Biennale. Students interact with high profile visiting artists and critics. This year’s guests have included Torkwase Dyson, Paul Pfeiffer, Carrie Yamaoka, Will Rawls,, Josh Klein, Rina Banerjee, Nayland Blake, and Stephanie Syjuco.


For more information please visit and/or contact the MFA Fine Arts Program Director, Associate Professor Simone Douglas


Parsons School of Design is one of the premier institutions for art and design education. Founded in 1896, is has served as a pioneer in the field for more than a century. Based in New York and internationally active, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of design disciplines. Critical thinking, research and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. Parsons offers rigorous training that allows for interdisciplinary collaboration across five thematic schools. An integral part of The New School, Parsons builds on the university’s legacy of progressive ideals, scholarship, and pedagogy. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century.