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Students Get the Spotlight at Parsons Art and Design Festival

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This weekend, Parsons The New School for Design kicked off its inaugural "Parsons Festival 2011," which showcases the work of its burgeoning student designers, filmmakers, architects, and other dedicated creative types who have graced the school's hallowed hallways. Grads and undergrads will get their moments in the limelight from May 7 to May 23. For everyone else, the two weeks offer a diverse selection of exhibits, lectures and panels.

"This is Parsons' time to open its doors and let everyone see what's happening inside," said Radhika Subramanian, the director of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parson. "We're giving the public access to reviews, critiques and presentations -- things that are central to our academic experience but are usually invisible to the public."

The Parsons Festival covers a wide range of art and design topics -- from innovative environmental design to documentary photography. The following events at the festival are free and open to the public.

MFA Design and Tech at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center For two weeks, this gallery exhibition will feature experimental installations, screenings, and an “arcade” of gaming projects. More than 100 graduate students share their research through analog and digital media, including mobile and web-based platforms, chip-based applications, animation, motion graphics, and digital filmmaking. This is what happens when art, technology and creative minds combine. Through May 23.

Somewhere to Disappear, An Evening with Alec Soth at The New School Tishman Auditorium Alec Soth is a documentary photographer who may be best known for his images capturing the American Midwest. Fascinated by his photographs, filmmakers Laure Flammarion and Arnaud Uyttenhove followed Soth as he embarked on his latest project: photographing lone recluses living in cabins and caves in the woods and desert across America. Soth and Chris Boot, Executive Director of Aperture Foundation will answer questions after the screening on Monday May 9 from 8:30 PM to 10:30 PM

The Intelligence of Popular Things: Henry Beck's London Underground Diagram, 1931 - 2011 at the Festival Presentation Space In 1931, how did an unemployed 28-year-old find the courage to invent a completely new way of mapping the city, and why do people still love the abstraction he produced?  This presentation attempts to reveal how radical innovation happens in design. On Thursday, May 12 at 4 P.M.

SoundAffects on Fifth Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets Pedestrians can experience weather and traffic as musical sounds and images beginning on Friday, May 13. The techy composers at Tellart have worked with Parsons to play certain sounds when sensors on the block pick up temperature changes or motion. Plug earphones into the listening wall from May 13 through 22 on Fifth Ave. between 12th and 13th Streets or watch the sounds projected as shapes and colors at night.

Water Fight! Fracking, Food, Art and Economy at The New School's Tishman Auditorium Hydrofracking is a hot-button topic these days. The technique is employed by oil and gas companies to extract hard-to-reach gas under geological formations such as the Marcellus Shale. The School of Constructed Environments and The Baum Forum present this action-oriented panel to energize and educate the public about industrial hydrofracking. Anna Lappé, author of "Diet for a HotPlanet," will moderate the panel while speakers Lois Gibbs of The Center for Health, Environment, & Justice, Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Watch and others offer their expertise on the controversial topic. On Monday, May 16 from 2 P.M. to 7 P.M.