The New School Graduating Class of 2021 Thesis Highlights | Part 2

Despite the immense challenges the past year has posed, the graduating class of 2021 has created work that inspires, teaches, and even challenges us. Leading up to The New School’s commencement ceremony on May 14, 2021, we’ll be highlighting their work and accomplishments so our entire community can continue to learn from and support their research and art practices.

Additional work from the Parsons School of Design Class of 2021 will be featured virtually throughout the summer. More information about this year’s Parsons Festival will be available soon.

Interested in checking out more work from this year’s graduating class? Click here for Part 1.

Congrats, grads!

Florencia Villa

BFA Photography, 2021

“My nickname as a child was “flaca escopeta”, the gaucho translation for “little shotgun”. My father would call me “flaca escopeta” everyday, comparing my scrawny legs to the barrel of a gun. It is a common way of speech in La Pampa, Argentina. Although that nickname came from a place of love, I started to think what it meant to have always been address for a physical characteristic and not for my name.

I was seen as a metallic cold murderous weapon. I realized that through my adolescence it had made me feel detached from my own body. My identity was not Florencia, I wasn’t seen for who I was but for how I looked like. Like an insect being analyzed under a microscope and a light, I was being observed by the most important male figure in my life.

My thesis work Flaca Escopeta is a series of surreal black-and-white photographs paired with video, in which I criticize patriarchal structures in Argentina. By creating images at the studio of chopped-off body parts and pairing them with ethereal still lives of different symbolisms, I represent how I felt disconnected from my body and sense of self, due to the objectifying male gaze of Latin American culture.”

Check out more of Florencia’s work on their thesis website, portfolio website, or Instagram @florenciavph

Elaine Tontoh

PhD Economics, 2021

“My dissertation develops an integrated Marxist-feminist-capability theory for the study of the triple day problem within motherhood. The triple day of motherhood is conceptualized as a mother who engages in the reproductive work of childcare (the single day), in addition to waged work (the double day), but is also able to engage in self-reproductive work (the triple day). Self-reproduction involves activities that a mother undertakes to replenish herself physically, medically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, psychologically or other forms of replenishment that is primarily beneficial to her non-economic well-being and secondarily beneficial to her economic well-being. A mothers inability to undertake self-reproducing activities is what is referred to as the triple day problem.

To theoretically investigate the triple day problem, my work first develops its theory of maternal capability suppression which it conceptualizes as the limitation of a mother’s capabilities to function in important areas of her life by virtue of the instrument role of childbearing and childrearing within family production. Next, the research advances its theory of maternal economic oppression which it conceptualizes as the exploitation of motherhood labor as non-wage socially necessary labor within capitalist commodity production while such labor is undervalued and its costs uncompensated. The combination of these two theoretical frameworks brings a combined new and radical feminist perspective to understanding the unequal socio-economic relations and disadvantages women experience due to their role as mothers within capitalist societies.

The integrated framework thus, forms the basis on which my theoretical dissertation makes its motherhood policy proposal for motherhood compensation to address the specific problem of the triple day.

As a young mother with three young children below the age of 7, I struggled as a graduate economics student of the NSSR, combining reproductive work, academic work and waged work. I almost gave up on my doctoral degree because it looked impossible to do, to combine all three areas of my life. Daycare expenses were high. Even if daycare were affordable, it would not guarantee the “real time” I needed to study. I began to think about my academic situation and motherhood more critically. Was I stuck in life whereas others were making progress? Was I going to drop out of the NSSR? Was motherhood going to be the reason? Would I ever graduate with a PhD in economics since joining the New School in 2014? would I ever be able to do and become what I really valued for my life? My experience of motherhood, academic life and work life possibly couldn’t be a double day situation. It was beyond that. Could I write a dissertation out of this in economics? This was the genesis of my triple day thesis, a thesis which conceptualizes every aspect of my experience as a student mother. I have developed a theory of motherhood using the capability approach and Marxist feminist social reproduction theory that explains the problem of the triple day. I believe my work is path-breaking and will impact the lives of many women both mothers and non-mothers. My life story became my doctoral dissertation. Talk of making lemonade out of lemons!”

Check out Elaine’s working papers here and on her portfolio website.

Sierra Glicker

BFA Communication Design, 2021

“A lot of the inspiration I get for my work comes from the city, all it has to offer, and the people I may spark a conversation with during my travels. My primary interests include branding, editorial design and typography.

For my thesis, I wanted to explore my own culture and heritage and the importance of everyone own backgrounds and beliefs! We all come from diverse families with our own unique cultures and values and can benefit when shared and celebrated.

In my book, “The Golden Door,” I want to start a meaningful narrative to showcase different cultures and backgrounds. This would be accomplished by sharing stories of those who came to the United States from across the world and historical artifacts such as postcards, poetry, and stamps. I focused on immigration stories throughout various periods to showcase the transitions within this topic and how their lives changed due to the opportunities The United States offered them. This piece will spark a conversation and aid the movement that has already begun surrounding immigration with positive values.”

Check out more of Sierra’s work on her website and Instagram @sierraglicker @sierrarosesart

Padmaja Kothari

BFA Communication Design, 2021

Minor in Creative Entrepreneurship & Fashion Communication, 2021

“A lot of brands promise to be cruelty-free, phthalate-free, sulfate-free — free of everything. They have clunky packaging and too many ingredients. Through my thesis, I created a beauty & wellness brand that provides a sustainable alternative to chemical-laden skincare products. Nushka is an amalgamation of a variety of “Ghar ke Nuskhe” (homemade remedies) made using household ingredients. The more natural the ingredients are, the more reliable they can be in terms of having a lower ecological impact. The inspiration behind Nushka is my grandmother’s skincare recipe book that has been passed down for generations.

As a designer, I want my work to be accessible and relatable to a large audience which will give a platform to showcase the themes and topics that are important to me. For my brand Nushka, I created an app that consists of all the skincare recipes as well as daily tips from my grandma’s book. The app will help build a community for people interested in clean skincare. Along with the app, I have also created content for social media to help promote the app as well as the brand. Since my brand is all about natural and organic ingredients. I wanted my design to reflect the same so I created an organic pattern, picked an earthy muted palette, and used a rounded typeface.”

Check out more of Padmaja’s work on Instagram @padmajakothari or connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Madison Gamba

MA Philosophy, 2021

Society’s consumption of animal products comes with a cost: the destruction of nature and our bodies, and the abdication of our capacity to fully grasp what we eat. Invoking Aristotle’s theory of causation, I analyze the contemporary production of animal products to bring into light the fact that we either do not have proper knowledge of what we consume by not knowing how they come into existence, or we willfully ignore such information because of the ethical dilemma it provides us with. Grasping the causes of animal products — and the moral status of such innocent animals — will inevitably change our view towards animal products, whether we continue to consume them or not. And since, for Aristotle, consuming nutrition is an essential attribute of what it means to be living, we ought to utilize our rationality to seek proper knowledge of what perpetuates our form.

Check out more of Madison’s work on Instagram @madison_philosophy

⁣Leading up to The New School’s Commencement Ceremony on May 14, 2021, we’ll be highlighting graduating student work and projects. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more work from our amazing graduating students! Congrats to all!

Have a thesis or final project you’d like to share? Submit it here.

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