Director’s Note

Có khó mới có khôn.

Through hardship comes wisdom.

– Vietnamese proverb


Since the onset of the pandemic, many of us work to grapple with how to address the ongoing trauma and disparities within our classrooms and the studios. As a community within the university, we come to terms with the need for vaccination, regular testing and quarantines. In the thick of it all, one thing I know for certain, the Class of 2023, is an exceptional cohort of artists. They began their graduate study at Parsons just as the university and world were slowly figuring out ways to re-open, to be together. Braving the terrains of loss, navigating the unknown, these 27 artists have shown tremendous commitment to supporting one another–engaging not only what is now, what has been, but also what could be. From self-organized efforts of performance events, group exhibitions and ‘show-and-tell’ of work-in-progress, to marching on the picket line in solidarity with the part-time faculty on strike, taking care of friend in need or fundraising for not only communal projects but also for individual artists – such terms like care, reclamation, restoration, and world-making are enacted here, collaborative and lateral, in the everyday, at every turn. These artists have shown one cannot care for a community without committing to working side by side, with each of its member.


Whether it is through shared challenges or perhaps, because of them, each artist has plunged deep into their research. They’ve followed their curiosities and found their voice. The culmination here is beyond a proposition of “what ifs.” It is a testament of resilience – a celebration of the possible and the fantastical, of looking closely into shared legacies, of never letting go of their critical selves, a moment of reborn and reimagined kinship.


To the Class of 2023, heartfelt appreciations and congratulations for all your accomplishments, for all that you have given to one another as a community. It has been an immense privilege to be part of your inquiries and to witness your growth. The baton is yours, next generation of artists/citizens to take the lead.


H Lan Thao Lam
Director, MFA Fine Arts