Upon arriving in New York City from North Carolina, jazsalyn, MFA Design and Technology ’21, was excited to explore the intersection of art and technology and forge new friendships with other artists. “Starting from humble beginnings, I realized what
a privilege it was to be at The New School and Parsons,” she says. But reflecting on her own experience and first impressions of the university, “I also noticed there were far too many Black aspiring artists struggling and lacking institutional access.”
She found herself wondering, “How can I make opportunities for others?”
That’s how jazsalyn began her journey as a curator and connector as well as an artist in her own right. While at Parsons, she dedicated her thesis to a group show titled _assembly, alchemy, ascension [a^3]. Inviting artists to participate, curating the
work, and organizing the show opened up a whole new world for jazsalyn. When the pandemic ruled out an in-person exhibition, she developed a creative team to bring the show online and extend the research through a multidimensional XR experience. The
XR experience was installed at the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery in the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center this past spring. (For a full list of credits and acknowledgments, visit blackbeyond.xyz) “When there’s a fork in the road, I rarely give
up,” jazsalyn says.
The experience taught jazsalyn that she loved curating and building community—and that she was good at it. This discovery led her to establish black beyond, a platform that jazsalyn describes as “a space for artists to define alternate realities for Blackness.”
The femme-led group gives agency and visibility to artists who might otherwise have been overlooked while setting an example for other cultural institutions seeking to upend the status quo.
When jazsalyn describes herself as an “antidisciplinary artist,” it’s clear she’s all about breaking down walls. “There’s something amazing about seeing your power be exponential through others.”