Palimpsests of Palimpsests

2016, Mixed Media, 10 X 8

This piece consists of two fire hydrants which have essentially been transformed into palimpsests through graffiti, writings, and stickers. Although both fire hydrants have been altered, one can still see their initial meaning and form. For my piece, I decide to photograph two fire hydrants, both located in SOHO, New York. Both Fire Hydrants are filled with objects that altered their original plain color. After photographing these hydrants, I printed two copies of each hydrant (one in color and one in black and white). They where then individually cropped from their background and then pasted to a white background. The purpose of this was to make the hydrants the main focus of the piece. The color version hydrant was left alone and the black and white hydrant was embellished with feathers, paint, book pages, and writing done in markers. The purpose of the piece was to juxtapose an image of an actual palimpsest next to my own interpretation of an alteration to that palimpsest. This shows that even though an object can be altered as many times, it does not change its purpose but instead adds history and originality to the object.

Billboard City

2016, Magazine Scraps, Nailpolish, Sharpie, Cardboard; dimensions variable

As I walked around my designated address, I was very satisfied to see a lot of fashion ads around me blown up into insane scales. I took out my phone to capture these huge images and was shocked to noticed that everyone was on their phones. I realize it is New York City but with all the insane work around us I was surprised to see not one other person doing what I was doing. It reminded me that sometimes people don’t take those small stops to smell the roses and see the true art the lies all around them. It was also interesting to see the metamorphosis of the building and the older images and graffiti behind the newer coated images. As a photographer I love working in photoshop and manipulating layers on top of each other to achieve a specific look. Using all sorts of layers I mainly like to mesh them all together for a final outcome. What I truly loved about the space I saw was that you could see bits and pieces of each individual billboard. If you looked closely you could see the remaining shots from past billboards and begin to get an idea of what was advertised there before the current photo. I took what I saw into consideration and decided to create a billboard with layers that have been taken down or ripped off. I also wanted to incorporate the people on their phones below the advertisements so I decided to attach a wide spread shot of all types of people on the go but focused on their cellular devices. While including graffiti, paint, and torn ads, I believe my scale sized palimpsest could easily on a New York City skyline or on a side of a building today.


2016 photography, computer graphics 18″x24″

I decided to take to the streets and photograph anything and everything I considered to be a palimpsest. I took pictures of stickers on walls, graffiti on mailboxes, and chipping paint. I was not sure what my direction was with this project while I was taking the pictures, so when it came time to do something with them, I was at a loss. The first thing I thought of doing was layering the pictures the same way the subjects of the pictures were layered. I edited the pictures and then put them into Adobe Illustrator. After editing the opacity and placement in relation to each other, I brought them into photoshop to do even more photo manipulation. In Photoshop, I isolated certain parts of the pictures to layer them on top of the layered pictures and give it an even more hectic feel. Once I stepped back from the collage of pictures, I realized I had added too much. This began a long process of reduction and addition of photos into my project, along with a lot of peer review. Ultimately, I was satisfied with my final project, which was still a complex collage of photos, but it felt organized to me. Since the opacity is low on all of the pictures included in my piece, the viewer is able to see through to the last photo through all of the photos on top. The concept behind my photo collage is this whole idea of layering. Palimpsest is the layering of things while still being able to see what is or what underneath, thus I wanted my piece to have that same feel.


2016,collage,11×17 in

In my series of pictures and collage, I show the artistic intentions of street art. This beautifully done art style is one that must be praised and decriminalized. By collaging these pieces, I hope to show people the actual value within the spray paint. Many will not understand, but the street art community will prosper and continue. No policeman can arrest ambition.


2016 | birch, steel, printed photographs | 16″ x 8″ x 1/2″

As a recent transplant to the city of New York I frequently find myself walking aimlessly, searching for visual inspiration. It is not uncommon to accidentally stumble upon a bit of history while strolling, but it is the hidden history that truly strikes me as interesting. Pre-war buildings, covered with fresh paint and graffiti are found on every corner, and hidden underneath those fresh coats of paint are the traces of the building’s past. My untitled wooden panel is inspired by the buildings of New York and their hidden histories. The remains of old advertisements and street art bring to mind the old phrase “If these walls could talk…”, and provide insight into not only the buildings’ histories, but also the histories of the neighborhoods and the city itself. The city’s skyline offers a distant look at New York, while the overlaid images of street art and graffiti allow for a more magnified view. It is important to pay attention to history, not only to learn from mistakes, but also to gain inspiration and understanding of how our current world came to be what it is. Nicholas Whitfield November 2016


2016 Digitized charcoal drawing layered with text and digital photography
Dimensions TBD

The basis for this piece is women; what it means to be a woman, and especially what it means to be a woman in New York. I believe that being a woman in different cities varies greatly, it’s almost a given since every town or city has their own culture, their own values, their own sets of morals and ethics. However, it may be posed that this sort of difference affects women most heavily, where it becomes a thought that actively inhabits our mind and hesitates our movement, because so many of the restrictions and rules were made to apply to women. The palimpsest that I have created consists of some imagery and text that I had created before diving into the “city that never sleeps”, as wells as signs and text from the streets of New York. The layering effect that synthesizes with the concept of a palimpsest physically demonstrates the synthesizing concepts in my mind in the discovery of place and role of my gender in this new city. As each new layer is placed upon the previous, a new realisation is found about the embodiment of women in a given location. Within this palimpsest concept, there is imagery that can be obviously traced back to my thematic goal as well as some that are more broad, and more vague, to encompass that it is not only nuances that are deemed explicitly feminine or relating to feminism that can influence the creation of a woman’s identity in relation to their gender. This piece that I have created is both an expression of personal growth in an expansive form and an expression of the cycle of information that instigates growth for women as a community. The layers are formed from my growing sense of embodiment and connection to self, while the content of each layer exhibit the intake and output of information in a community that allows it to evolve.

Untitled Park

2016, photos on vellum paper, metal, wood, plastic, glue, 5″x5″x6″

I decided to create my own representation of an architectural palimpsest. A space “reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.” I took a broader sense of the word and applied it to a place that I see having many layers of memories and now, restriction. When walking past a park, I began to reminisce the memories I have of childhood and the restriction I feel from fun. I used three photos of a primary colored park scene, each photo cropped closer and closer, printed on transparent plastic, and placed in layers in a transparent box. The photos are taken from behind a fence, showing a sense of being locked out of this place of memory and emotion. The transparent box allows the viewer to feel this sense of being locked out as well, because they can’t reach inside. This causes many to feel a sense of resistance and invites reflection. The drips of glue give a sense that childhood and emotion are messy. There are many places in New York that are true palimpsests of overlapping writing, but this expression of overlapping photos creates a similar visual intensity, and rather eludes to the idea of a palimpsest through the location being a trigger for deep emotion, reflection, and memory.

Memoir Noir

Photograph, Ink jet print 11 x 17

Born in Brooklyn, New York into a conservative orthodox Jewish community, Diane views art and making art as an escape from her traditional community life, her sense of comfort in a sometimes-chaotic world in which she doesn’t belong. Much of her work takes place in New York as she’s grown up and watched the city gentrify over time. With an early start into the world of photography at age 9, Azrak has always been interested in candid street photography. Her eye always searching for those moments that can best be described with just one photograph. Her attention to light as well as more formal qualities like shadow, line, shape, and an ambiguous sense of time are what connects her many different themes of work.

A block in NYC

2016, tracing paper, color paper, rubber cement, thread, 6.5″x7″

I decided to cut different photographs I took of NYC and make a basket weave out of them because they reminded me of the graffiti and posters that are stacked on top of each other around NYC. Layering the photos was a way of creating a palimpsest on a smaller level. The change and history of NYC as a whole inspired me to create multiple layers of the basket weave because NYC has also attained many layers throughout the years.


The Palace of Culture

The Palace of Culture:
An Exploration in Design, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

2017 Spring Intensive Course

Tues. Feb. 14 and 28, 7:00-8:50 pm in NYC
March 18 to 28 in Warsaw, Poland


A tall skyscraper towers over a sprawling complex of shorter, but still imposing outbuildings surrounded by a vast, empty space. This is the Palace of Culture and Science, Stalin’s “gift” to Warsaw emerging from post-World War II rubble. Completed in 1955, it continues to dominate Polish capital’s center and remains the tallest building in the country. Many in Warsaw will agree that it is a design that wields enormous city-making power, whether they like it or not. Multiple modernities incarnate, it embodies Soviet imperial designs to dominate the region and revolutionize social relations by reclaiming the downtown for the proletariat, but it borrows from a form recognizable on the other side of the Iron Curtain, that of a Chicago or New York art deco high-rise. It has been an invader and a savior, a blessing and a curse, a silent witness and a violent genius. It was construed as a beacon of a bright future to come, then as a ruin of the fallen order, and recently as a site of struggle, innovation, and resignation for urban activists, city planners, private developers, and architects. Today the Palace continues to lead complex lives: symbolic, ideological, historical, practical, and infrastructural.

This international project, which will take place in lecture halls of the Palace itself, brings together matters of history, architecture, and the urban future, in order to develop new capacities and strategies for design education. Seniors and graduate students from Parsons School of Design and The New School for Social Research in New York, and seniors and graduate students from the School of Form, Poznań, will collaborate in a design workshop that will move from a rigorous but imaginative research into contemporary urban complexities to the creation of speculative design propositions.  Over five days, students will meet in morning seminars to discuss readings on the nature of memory and complexity of spatial interventions as political gestures. In the afternoons, they will work in teams to propose alternative visions for this site (or others like it elsewhere in the world, i.e., the Freedom Tower in NYC).

The course is offered in conjunction with Making Home in Wounded Place: Memory, Design, and the Spatial symposium, and Far Away from Where? exhibition, both held at Parsons.