Cross Course Reflection

Cross-Course Reflection

Lena Chen

Integrative Seminar 2

Nancy Satola



  1. A short bio

I’m Lena, a freshman at Parsons who is about to enter junior year, and I just declared my major as Communication Design a month ago. I’m excited about a variety of art and design forms, including illustration, videos, fashion and graphics.


  1. A summary of similarities and differences in my work

Across my first year courses, there are two things emerge in several works I created. One is flower. I incorporated flowers in both collages and handmade books, and these assignments are from three different courses. The other thing is actually a color, which is purple, particularly the kind of light, pinkish purple. It’s not intentional, but I unconsciously used it as one element of the color palette.

The skill of bending wires I learned in Integrative Studio 1 helped me a lot in Space/Materiality class. When first approaching wire, I was intimidated, had a very hard time with it and even hurt myself. But because of this previous experience, I found it easy to manipulate wires when my Space professor asked us to do so.

During studio making, I still need to look at academic knowledge in order to progress with my work. Knowledge about history and culture often inspire me with my work.

In Drawing class, Paul made our projects exciting by having us to do several versions with one assignment, and finally picking the best one. At critiques the whole class come to talk about the pros and cons of each piece. It was fun, and very important for me to see my strengths as well as weaknesses.

The research methods, making and writing techniques I’ve learned will always be helpful at any time in the future. It is a continuous process of richening my knowledge and improving my skills.


  1. Two highlights from my first year

One highlight is a handmade book I did in Time class last semester. For this project we were supposed to make a book that tells a narrative or shows progression of time. I immediately thought of a plant’s life from birth, growth, to death. I chose rose, my favorite flower. First, I cut the same squares on paper boards. They were the “windows” through which the roses could be seen. Then I attached a piece of thin transparent plastic sheets on a “window”, and did the exact same thing on every board. In order to create a space where the material inside can move, I used half -inch thick double sided tape to connect two boards, so the tape itself created space, and whatever was put between the “window” sheets can move within the little space. The “windows” together serve as a sequence of moving frames. Inspired by pointillism, I used sparkles of different colors to form a picture. In the first frame, there is only a few sparkles. Next, they get more and more, and a flower grows out of it. Then the flower starts to wither, and die, as the surrounding environment changes with it. Eventually, it is covered by white sparkles just like snow. I find this project significant to me because I created something brand new. It’s fun to physically interact with the book to make the sparkles flow.


Another highlight is the last project of Space/Materiality this semester, which I am currently finalizing it. The project name is called “Cultural Pods” and we each make a seating device with wood that demonstrates some kind of interaction. I sketched out several ideas and chose one that I was most satisfied with. Then I started to think about the way that the pieces of wood connect to each other. It was not easy because wood has thickness and this became a three-dimensional math question. I wrote down lots of equations, calculating the angles in a triangle and the length of the opposite side. Since my chair has many slanted structure, the calculation process was extremely difficult. I made some mistakes and often had to came back to the first place to correct them. After I finally got over measuring and sketching, I scaled my design down to one-third and made a model out of cardboard. Then I cut actual wood based on this model. Now I’m still working on drilling screws and put individual wood pieces together. This project is important to me because I learned previously unknown techniques, such as screwing, cutting wood, sanding, etc. in just a month’s time. Before, I was afraid of the bulky machines and tools, but I turned out to be a quick learner. There is nothing I can’t do if I’m willing to try.


  1. Conclusion

The new question I want to pursue is how to design an app.

It’s very likely for an artist to extend from one perspective of a project to another project. For example, if I’m sewing a garment, I might be inspired by the silhouette I create, and apply it to the chair I’m making right now.

Since I’ve chosen Communication Design, I want to learn more digital design applications. I know that this major involves skills from graphic design, product design and computer programming, I want to start have a look at these fields and get some basic knowledge.

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