Though only two years old, the Latinx Student Alliance feels as if it’s been around for years. The Zoom meetings, held weekly every other Tuesday and Thursday, are full of camaraderie, even in the digital void. Current president Yessenia Sanchez utilizes time to catch up with students, talk about Latinx artists/creatives and cultivate a community as we move through a socially-distanced semester.

“It’s always reassuring to find people who identify similarly to you,” Sanchez stated in a recent interview. “I’m just trying to make it easier for all the incoming Latinx students to find one another and connect.”

Formed by Sanchez and former student Emma Vitoria in 2018, the LSA has been a source of solace for many students searching for a Latinx community at Pratt. The current pandemic has made connecting with others challenging, and like most clubs, the LSA has been getting creative to combat this. Last month was Latinx Heritage Month, and the club celebrated by using their Instagram to elevate art by Latinx-identifying students. Throughout the four weeks, they shared paintings, drawings and photographs in a successful campaign. The artwork was later shared by Pratt Institute’s main Instagram account, as well as other departments, organizations and students campus-wide through stories and shoutouts.

“It’s important to uplift and show our support for one another, especially as upcoming artists of color,” Sanchez continues. “Giving them the acknowledgement they deserve was the least we could do, and we plan to continue supporting them as much as we can throughout the year.”

Though Latinx Heritage Month is technically over, these artists are still creating and still adamant about the importance of representation all year round. We had the chance to talk with a few featured students about their work, process and perspective on being a Latinx student at Pratt.


Maribel Marmolejo

Maribel Marmolejo, a third year BFA film major, is savvy in recording the moments many people would walk right past. Originally from Brooklyn, Marmolejo first became interested in film through her family.

“My brother and I would beg my mother to buy the bootleg DVDs by Flushing Broadway so we [could] watch them all day,” she recalls. “Our family bonded through movies. No one [was] arguing when we were watching a movie.”

Though she cultivated an interest early on, it wasn’t until high school that Marmolejo began to realize a true passion for filmmaking. She attended the Downtown Community Television Center in Manhattan as a student, and worked under the guidance of professors who motivated her to share her work with the world. Since arriving at Pratt, however, Marmolejo has found many differences between New York public schools and the institution.

“I would see people that looked and spoke like me every morning [in high school, in] schools that were predominantly Black and Latinx,” Marmelojo says. “I felt like a complete outsider [at Pratt]...it felt like I had to be better, [that] I had to try twice as hard. It still feels like this.” She also stresses the importance of hiring more BIPOC professors, which would help other students as much as it has helped her.

This sense of isolation, along with other feelings, have stirred Marmelojo’s need to capture the world as she experiences it. Her work focuses on sharing her perspectives of her own life, both in her family or beyond. Photography is a favorite medium to explore. The subjects of Marmelojo’s photos range from relatives at home parties to people she meets around her neighborhood in Brooklyn. A recent series showcases residents around the city in the wake of COVID-19. Genuinity is an important part of her mission, especially when it pertains to current political and social issues.

“My community is currently being displaced and that plays a huge role in my photography [and] the people I chose to capture pictures of,” Marmelojo states. “Gentrification is deadly...it’s taking over Bushwick. Sometimes I can’t even recognize it. With my camera, I have proof that we are, in fact, still here.” Capturing this now is essential in making sure these stories don’t get erased.

Marmolejo is still hard at work as the semester wears on. One of her upcoming projects is a documentary about the daily struggles of New York City street vendors during the pandemic. Despite being a crucial component of local economies, these workers never seem to achieve basic rights to work, to paraphrase Marmolejos’s mission statement. The film will focus on obstacles like harsh working conditions and police brutality.

More than anything, though, Marmolejo is dedicated to uplifting the voices of those who have been silenced for too long.

“I am proud of my roots, how I speak, my history, my hardworking family, where I came from and the countless stories I come with,” she explains. “I am getting there slowly, but it's the best feeling in the world.”

Photo by Maribel Marmolejo


Quincy Kmetz

Quincy Kmetz, a senior BFA painting major, had always considered art to be nothing more than a hobby, something that she never believed she could pursue professionally. Despite praise from teachers and friends regarding her work, Kmetz took the office job route before attending Pratt. It was only later that she realized art was the right path for her.

“I had a natural tendency to do the opposite of what people told me,” she remembers. “[But] I realized what the rest of my life could look like if I didn’t make a decision. It’s probably the best decision I’ve made for myself.”

Kmetz’ work features a wide range of topics from isolation to the experience of living in an expanding digital world. While she is usually an oil painter, Kmetz also experiments with different mediums. A charcoal series entitled “Lovers” tackles connection in the modern age, while other pieces focus on solitude and feeling isolated from others.

“I’m thinking about friendship, I’m thinking about love,” Kmetz states. “Loneliness often goes hand in hand with that, [as] does rage and resentment. Sometimes it’s rage against others...rage against an unseeable force [or] true self-aggression.”

Kmetz’ most recent collection, “I Hear Rumors” is a painting series that speaks to the challenges voters are currently facing, like misinformation and a loss of individuality. Ever since learning of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytical scandal, Kmetz has become interested in exploring digitally spread lies in a visual way. The political climate today is divisive, and Kmetz understands that there can be an “endless search for an enemy” in people. This series, along with an upcoming collection of comic-book inspired paintings about data manipulation, are a more approachable way of conversing about this topic.

“I’m using this scale to humble the audience, [to say] ‘Listen up, this is important,” Kmetz says. “I don’t believe it’s my job as an artist to have answers. It’s my job to ask questions.”

Kmetz feels she can’t speak to the experiences of every Latinx student at Pratt, and instead remarks that she is victimized by the institution as much as the next student. Nonetheless, Kmetz is adamant about making art school academics more inclusive and representative of its entire student body.

“A place to start is with the academic catalog for History of Art and Design,” she states. “The 2020-2021 catalog does not have any Latin American or South American-specific history of art and design course(s). The power of education, especially access to history, can’t be underestimated in value.”

Kmetz is looking forward to sharing her work with people in a physical space again someday. In the meantime, as long as the work is true to her beliefs, sharing via the internet will suffice.

“I’ve been thinking about the place painting has as an antiquated medium in an expanding digital world,” she says. “I want to continue making work that engages my audience, and work that fulfills me.”

Art by Quincy Kmetz


Vivian Vazquez

As a first year Communications Design student, Vivian Vazquez has been thrown into a strange situation for sure. This new mode of education hasn’t stopped her artistic motivations, however. Raised in a Mexican family, art was always something that Vazquez was drawn to, in one form or another.

“My mom's side consists of musical artists. Everyone from my abuelito down plays musical instruments, [and] were constantly singing and dancing every time I visited Mexico,” Vazquez says. Her mother, who studied architecture in college, heavily inspired Vazquez to pursue the visual arts, the only career field the latter could imagine for herself. (Her musical genes still remain, though. Vazquez states, “If times were more normal, you would hear me playing the ukulele or whatever instrument I could find around campus!”)

Working primarily with ink and marbling, Vazquez has since used her work to relay an important message. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, she began to notice how people within her community reacted to the illnesses in a negative way, perpetuating harmful stigma.

“I realized that for students of color/Latinx students with mental illnesses, we also have to deal with parents from a culture where mental illness doesn't really ‘exist,’” Vazquez relays. “Unless they could see the injury or illness, you were making it all up. It's become important to me to help other students in similar situations.”

Though Vazquez feels she hasn’t worked on a large-scale level to resolve these issues, her art portrays an insider’s view into mental illness in a way that feels monumental. The struggle is clear, and yet, Vazquez views each piece with a sense of hope in the distance. Normalizing the experience is the only way to move forward, both in the Latinx community and beyond.

Her upcoming work continues to portray these themes. Vazquez feels they are a visual way to describe her mental headspace during particularly rough moments in her life.

“Just by looking at them, I am reminded of where I once was and how far I have come,” she says. “I want to create work that evokes the unexplainable emotions those of us with mental illnesses feel but cannot express in words, and that inspires young people to pursue their hopes and motivations in spite of [them.]”

Though her first year at Pratt is anything but typical, Vazquez feels there is much potential for students to learn about cultures outside of their own, whether in a physical or digital classroom.

“I would enjoy having projects and courses that directly ask you to create work influenced by your own and each other's cultures and identities,” Vazquez explains. “[One could] learn more than just general information about other countries in the world.”

Challenging our understanding of one another is a staple of Vazquez’s mission. With these ideas, it’s clear that she has a promising road ahead.

Art by Vivian Vazquez


To keep in touch with the Latinx Student Alliance, follow them on Instagram (@prattlatinx) or email them (latinx@pratt.edu) to be added to the club’s mailing list.

As the second semester of senior thesis looms on the horizon, a stack of day-glo drawings grows taller while work hours stretch well into the early morning. Emails to press agents go unanswered, story points fail to click and frustration mounts. Sometimes, when ink runs low and my morale follows suit, I ask myself, why Wings?

For context, Wings is the second-most popular band that Paul McCartney ever fronted (number one happens to be the most successful and wildly famous band of the twentieth century, the Beatles.) A question in this musical discourse tends to be, “Who cares about number two?” The history, discography and iconography (or lack thereof) of Wings tends to be revered only by the most die-hard McCartney fans; even Sir Paul himself glosses over large swaths of their music. Naturally, this is the band I chose as the topic for my thesis: a 64-page graphic novel exploring the visual history of Paul’s number two band.

Wings soundtracked my teenage years and became a model for finding success on a secondary track; through changes in my major, developments in my creative practice and ever-changing interpersonal relationships, Paul’s ability to adapt to working with new musicians cast him as my creative paragon. Linda McCartney similarly serves as a personal icon, as she halted her career in photography to learn how to sing and play keyboards literally on stage, maintained a “fuck-you” attitude in the face of sexism and took candid shots of the band that directly inspire my drawings. I only hope to capture some of that spirit, as well as my love for the tunes themselves.

Admittedly, it’s been difficult to remain the chief Wings cheerleader throughout this process. McCartney’s gift for melody and his willingness to venture into oddball territory in his solo career has ensured Wings a spot in my heart and on my playlists for half a decade, but I can’t always say the same for my classmates. Sometimes, there are blank expressions from my twenty-something illustration peers when I discuss the band during a class, and even my parents, who are children of the seventies, are dumbfounded by my fascination with this obscure middle-of-the-road music. Wings wore gaudy outfits that lack the retrospective chic of the Beatles’ hippie wear, had horribly dated mullets and recorded a borderline unforgivable cover of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

Somehow, it’s the passion of a select few who have kept the spark for this project going. People like 65-year-old Dan Ealey come to mind, who, as a long-haired nineteen-year-old, snuck onto the Nashville farm that Wings used as a rehearsal space and befriended the band. He lent his bass to Paul for a jam session, sold it for a newer model then spent his entire adult life searching for the long-lost bass before recovering it 42 years later. Dan was slated to talk to me on the phone for an hour and proceeded to spend nearly four more gushing about his almost 50-year-old adventure. Even the ex-members of the band have buoyed my interest in the project as I try to collect photos and interviews; guitar player Denny Laine was taken by a jacket I hand-crafted to replicate Wings stagewear (lots of paint and rhinestones), and lead guitarist Laurence Juber spoke on how the band influenced the next generation of songwriters when his daughter wrote a Wings-esque piece for Harry Styles’ latest album.

Sometimes my project feels like an anachronism; the band’s story, however, contains similar gold nuggets of genre-bending and cross-cultural innovations. Many people (including John Lennon) wrote McCartney and Wings off as “granny music;” silly, substanceless love songs for teeny boppers. Without those silly love songs, though, I’d never have had the impetus to pick up a keyboard and start playing small, local gigs. I’d never have met a thriving community of fans ranging from young adults to senior citizens who share a love and appreciation for these records that would otherwise be gathering dust. Wings brought me great joy when no other music rang true. So, when people knock their music and mullets, I paraphrase Sir Paul himself: “What’s wrong with that? I’d like to know.”

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Art by Aidan Moyer

On September 19, 2019, 60,000 people attended the People’s Climate March in New York City. Many schools had given students the day off to march, while others decided to take the day off in order to participate. Pratt students were no exception. A year and a day later, on September 20, 2020, The New York Times published an article about the Union Square clock, a staple of the area, which has stopped telling time in the traditional way. An installation created by artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd, the clock now begins at 3:20 p.m. with seven years, one hundred and three days, fifteen hours, forty minutes and seven seconds; the alleged time until climate change becomes irreversible. According to Boyd and Golan, this number comes from calculations done by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.

The clock went viral a day after the article was posted. At first, its social media presence did exactly what the project itself was intended to do: remind us to reduce our carbon footprint, be conscious of the environment and elevate the doomsday deadline we are unsettlingly approaching. However, it didn’t take long for the tone of the public to quickly shift into one of disdain. Aren’t we trying?

This question of trying especially resonates for students at Pratt, widely considered to be the up-and-coming generation. Who could come into contact with this ridiculous installation? What can we do during our time at school to make a difference, despite knowing where these damages are coming from?

Pratt offers sustainability programs, but they aren’t known unless you seek them out. The institute’s sustainability minor, for example, requires fifteen credits. This means one could take electives such as “Politics of Climate Change” or “Power, Pollution and Profit” to educate themselves further about the situation, as well as interact with other invested students about the topic. Yet, what if Pratt made taking a class on the environment and sustainability a requirement? Wouldn’t the student body learn more about how to give back to the city we’re living in, while also finding community and working together to make Pratt a more sustainable campus?

Pratt also has a Sustainability Coalition, which you can find meetings for on their website. According to their mission statement, the coalition focuses on how a fashion major can make sustainable clothes, how an architecture student can design a building to best include solar panels or a green roof and is meant to open discussions about how artists can be environmentally conscious in their work, both on and off campus. Though all students are welcome, the coalition seems heavily geared towards fashion, architecture and design majors, and once again, isn’t particularly known amongst the student body.

Though Pratt is trying, there should be a recurring conversation about the environment for every student in every major. There are ways we can do our part outside of school: We can wash our clothes in cold water, unplug our electronics, bring tote bags when we go grocery shopping and so on. If anything, the massive clock’s message should be geared towards institutions like Pratt which could be doing more, as well as the corporations who continue to damage the environment. A good place for Pratt to start would be advertising the coalition, as well as their sustainability clubs, much more, advocating for students to engage and expand the conversation. Despite the ridiculousness of the clock, we do have a deadline, and it is up to us as members of an institution to discuss how to put in as much effort as possible both on campus and in our future careers.

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Art by Vivian Vazquez

As a member of Gen Z, I’m inclined to believe that global change will be made by my generation and those that come after. But what if, in fact, they are already being made by those who came before me, and I am just meant to continue and widen their path? The presence of strong women in today’s media inspires people, regardless of their gender or nationality, to make overdue changes. With strong minds leading the charge, we can anticipate a better future.

Four years ago, we saw the first female presidential candidate, who graced the debate stage with as much poise as her male counterparts. Hilary Clinton didn’t win the election, but she showed women that they have a place in the political world and can run just as fast in any race. Fast forward to today, and one has continued inspiration in the form of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a woman that personified the idea of feminism. A strong advocate of women’s rights, Bader Ginsburg’s embodiment of power and determination inspires the next generation of women and girls through her empty seat. When looking at pictures or art, her iconic gaze dares the viewer to fight as hard as she did. The three remaining positions in the Supreme Court held by women represent the evolution of obtaining equal rights, and although the other female justices’ work isn’t as well known, their very seats speak to RBG’s dedication to the fight.

Think about your Instagram account for a minute. How often do the posts in your feed reference empowerment? In addition to the horror stories we hear of sexual workplace politics, there are uplifting ones as well. Whether it’s about casting a vote in the upcoming election, a strong female celebrities’ post or even basic, Simply Southern quotes in curly font about where a woman gets her strength, they all empower. Unfortunately, we often flick past them, occasionally liking a post that would come back to haunt us if we didn't. In doing this, we forget the struggles that made the post possible in the first place. These ideas weren’t as readily available to previous generations, and the sense of hope and upliftment they provide shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Regardless of powerful females cementing their achievements in our history textbooks, women have experienced sexual misconduct in countless professional fields. Many have felt the need to make their stories known through the #MeToo movement. Stories are commonly told by women in media and politics, their experiences blowing up Twitter and Instagram feeds daily (the most publicized cases in recent years being those of Harvey Weinstein and Brett Kavanaugh). In these cases, the woman is victimized and made to feel weaker than a man, which is then emphasized in the media. However, while the stigma that a woman is not as capable as a man has been proven false time and time again, modern day statistics on gender pay-gap and sheer numbers of harassment cases still provoke disparaging thoughts: When will women be taken seriously? Is the #MeToo movement just another phase to be drowned out by a man’s voice? How many times must we prove our capabilities before we’re treated with an equal level of respect? These voices can be minimizing, especially to younger generations who feel that they don’t yet harness enough power to make individual change.

A mistake commonly made by young people today is that we think we’re all predestined to be changemakers, as though we were bred to make the world a better place. Perhaps this is because our generation was raised with constant praise and made to think that whatever we did was enough. Maybe this has given us a mentality that all of us are exceptionally powerful individuals going out to make great change, or maybe this stigma comes from real world pressures on young people to change the system entirely on their own. The fact is, if we were to zoom out and look at the bigger picture, we would see that change is already happening and has been for decades.

In terms of progress, we’re not starting from scratch. Change is and has already been taking place. Judging by the lack of forward movement made in the campaign for women’s equality, however, we’ll still have to work just as hard as our predecessors. Like those before us, it’s our job to society and to those who have already made due change, as the up-and-coming generation, to make better what has been given to us and to inspire those who will follow.

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Art by Naomi Desai

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