2019 NEXT Featured Students

NEXT is a dynamic, interactive and innovative end-of-year show that gives D.C.’s art community the opportunity to see the latest in contemporary art from fresh perspectives. Visitors have the opportunity to observe thesis critiques and discussions between students in the fields of studio arts, art history, interior architecture, design, dance, theatre, music and museum studies and faculty, while students are able to build connections with potential employers and art dealers. 

Fine Art

Photo of Yacine Fall

Yacine Fall (B.F.A., '19) comes from a family where disciples, or the Baye Fall, don’t wear shoes. They do this in order to remain in constant contact with the environment and in essence in constant contact with history.  Yacine uses her upbringing to influence her art, utilizing her environment and her Senegalese ancestry.

Yacine’s thesis, Un Lien (A Link), brings together both environment and upbringing by engaging the viewer in performance art, featuring a long strip of burlap, rope, and clay.  Yacine draws connections to both nature and history, connecting her body to her heritage in concurrence with a politicized society, forcing them to work together.  Yacine is trying to not only tie her performers together but to tie her audience to an experience—in a time when everything is pushing for us to divide, and think and act separately.


Yacine working

Yacine painting

Layla Saad (B.F.A. '19) is a American-Muslim artist focused on perceptions of identity and the influence of culture, religion and society. Her work often explores the synergy between the grotesque and the sublime. She works primarily in sculpture, inkwork, large scale installation, and projects that engage communities. Her portfolio explores a diverse body of work from traditional craft to participatory social activism and contemporary fusion art.

Layla’s thesis work is largely inspired by the 2016 elections, but her journey through the Corcoran has also encouraged her to further explore her identity.  In a rapidly changing socio-political climate, Layla wants to emphasize that minority representation is both important and a hot-topic, through the utilization of natural materials.

Photo of Layla




Layla's work

Layla's work

Photo of Tyler

Tyler Wellington (M.F.A., '19), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, situates her practice at the intersection of sculpture, installation and architecture. Her current work explores how powerful associations of texture, surface and color synthesize to both reveal subjectivity and shape behavior within social spaces.

Her thesis project, The Shell Game, poses questions regarding the oscillating edges of performance as it relates to active and passive sites of consumption. Wellington plays with ideas of object utility, nostalgia, and the manipulative flatness of set design. Deriving material choices, imagery, and shape language from sites including old game shows, architectural history, and vintage domestic spaces, she aims to collapse the visual boundaries between “traditional” performances and those which occur in private or even alone.

The Shell Game

Tyler working

Tyler working with lights

Fine Art Photography

Ashley Llanes (B.F.A., '19) is a queer-identifying artist who makes personal, political work about her Cuban-American identity, her affinity with Miami’s culture, and her relationship to her upbringing as a Catholic.

As a Cuban-American growing up in Miami, Quinceañera portraits of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother adorned her living room. However, Ashley denied the opportunity of a Quinceañera photoshoot, fearing it would be oppressive and a series of decisions that would be made on her behalf. Eight years later, she is replacing her missing photoshoot through her thesis, La Quinceañera, which explores the ethnic conservation of family values and the gender and cultural expectations that are introduced to a woman on her fifteenth birthday through the emulation of her family’s Quinceañera photos. By using self-portraiture to document her performance, she hopes to create a dialogue of appreciation towards the aesthetics of the tradition while evaluating its function.


Ashley poses for her project

Photo of Seung

Seung Hyun Rhee (B.F.A., '19), from Seoul, South Korea, has been studying in the United States for the past twelve years.  Although he considers Washington, D.C. his home, he expresses that the food and technology is very different than that of South Korea, and that the differences can often feel alienating.  

Seung Hyun's project, entitled Homesick, allows for him to reconnect with his Korean roots through Korean-Pop music, often called K-Pop.  By scanning album covers for source material and using his personal archive of photos from K-Pop concerts, Seung Hyun assembles reflections of his desire to connect and a longing to return home.

photo collage of woman running in a red suit

Art History

Photo of Isabella

Isabella Ionni (M.A., '20), an amateur astrologer, is interested in natal charts and how the positioning of the stars affects personality and the human experience.  Her work illuminates a science that is not widely regarded, providing a deeper understanding to lifestyle and practice.

Her project, entitled Auspiciously Opposing: The Natal Chart of Iskandar Sultan, explores astrology as it relates to this Timurid Prince from the 15th century.  Her project answers deep questions of identity and underlying personality, as well as what humans present at surface level.  


Isabella's project

Interior Architecture

Ellen Kim (B.F.A., '19) is interested in the human experience, focusing on how humans connect and form relationships with one another.  Noticing the increased integration of human interaction and technology, Ellen noticed social connections are becoming altered.  

In her project, entitled The Social Collective , Ellen explores human-to-human connection by creating a community and exhibition center located in Anacostia Park.  Ellen hopes that her project will showcase the importance of fostering a community through art and collaboration within the DC area.  


Photo of Ellen

Ellen's project

Ellen's project



Daniel McKenzie (M.F.A., '19), from Trinidad and Tobago, spent her childhood living in and traveling to different countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. Her travels inspired her love for art, architecture, culture and humanity around the world.

Dani's project, entitled The Cherry Tree, is a botanical shop and bistro based in the historic Georgetown Market Building. At this venue, visitors can purchase fresh flowers in the flower shop or observe botanists as they create one of a kind bouquets and botanical installations. Visitors can also enjoy a meal or drink in an intimate bistro setting. The different aspects of the venue are tied together by architectural elements which are inspired by nature. 

Dani's project

Dani's project


Keren Carrion (B.F.A., '19) was born and raised in Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria hit on September 20, 2017, it completely changed her perception of the island, compelling her to tell the stories of her people and their home. Although she couldn't work on the island for her thesis, she found a way to tell the story from right here in D.C.

Keren’s thesis, Quemado, or Burned, is a video documentary exploring how the hurricane has altered the lives of a woman named Angela and her family, who temporarily relocated to D.C. after the storm. She hopes that her thesis sheds light on the metaphor between how the hurricane stripped the island to its core and how Angela's family, and many other Puerto Rican families, had to make sacrifices in order to survive and heal.



Karen Carrion

New Media Photojournalism

Photo of Ruby

Ruiqian (Ruby) Zhao (M.A., '19)'s great passion is to build and deliver cross-cultural stories of immigrant families in order to inform and educate the public with her project for NEXT. In the Washington D.C. area in 2016, 74,814 people were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent. The prevalence of issues in immigrant families, however, is not highlighted in the mainstream media.

Zhao’s multimedia project, Home to Me, highlights the love and tension present between the younger generation of Chinese Americans and their immigrant parents. The project focuses on how tension connects a family, delivering the emotions evident in the process of re-culturalization and relocation of immigrant families.



Ruby's photographs

Ruby looking at photograph

Last year, when Amina Javed (M.A., '19) was photographing an assignment on Veterans Day at the Arlington National Cemetery, she encountered an elderly white man and his wife. What started off as a friendly conversation soon became an awkward situation as she was asked questions such as why she wasn’t wearing a veil, how her father allowed her to get an education and how she was able to speak English. Stunned by the encounter, Amina was inspired to use her thesis project as an opportunity to change some of the misunderstandings surrounding her community.

Amina’s thesis, Everybody’s Normal, is a multimedia project focusing on the diverse identities of Muslim women in the United States. The project challenges prevailing stereotypes of Islam by depicting the women in their everyday lives and experiences.

Her project aims to show how truly dynamic, strong and independent American Muslim women are. It focuses on the day-to-day moments and little nuances that are same for everyone, Muslim or not, so people can see these women just like anyone else.


Amina sorts photographs

Amina's project

Amina edits a photograph

Margaret standing in front of metro

Margaret Wroblewski (M.A., '19), born in Seoul, South Korea, is a photographer and videographer.  She is currently a Digital Media and Video Specialist at the Kennedy Center.

Her project was influenced by her personal experience in which she was publicly traumatized on the Washington, D.C. metro.  Since her encounter, she decided to turn on her camera in order to share her story and the stories of countless other women who have been through similar experiences.  Her project, entitled Underground, showcases 25 stories of harassment within the D.C. area.  


Margaret sorts her photographs


Museum Studies

When Cassie Green (M.A., '19) received her acceptance to GW’s MA program in Museum Studies, she was thrilled but faced the challenge of moving across the country with her husband and five children from Boise, Idaho. She wanted her children to know that no goal they set for themselves was too big to accomplish, so they committed to the East coast. Cassie’s husband quit his job, they sold their house, and didn’t look back.

Since her move, Cassie has completed a directed research project and interned for both the Department of Anthropology’s Skeletal Biology Program and the Collections Program overseeing the Office of Education and Outreach collections  at the National Museum of Natural History. “It is our duty to preserve and protect [museums] for future generations,” Cassie explains. Her various work has helped to ensure that the world’s natural and cultural history is maintained for her children and the generations beyond.

Cassandra Green

Cassie working

Cassie working

Cassie working

Decorative Arts and Design History


Phyllis Gerstell (M.A., '19) has re-invented herself many times: from lawyer, to musician/composer, to student of Russian language and culture, to decorative arts historian/researcher. Throughout, however, she has been a lover of "things" - starting from a childhood fascination with porcelain horse and dog figurines at Woolworth's. It is this love of things that has brought her to the DADH program.

Phyllis takes her design inspiration from the history of decorative art gifts. How do our gift habits of today compare to spectacular gift commissions of the past?


Phyllis working

Phyllis working

Production Design

Photo of Pancharee

Pancharee Sangkaeo, an abstract minimalist designer, is originally from Thailand.  Throughout her artistic career, she has worked as a production designer, where she designed sets, props and lighting.  

Sangkaeo’s interpretation of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors was inspired by Ancient Roman, Elizabethan, and Contemporary architecture.  The play itself presents a fun and whimsical story, which Sangkaeo hopes to bring to the audience in her modernized rendition of the set. 

Pancharee's set

Exhibition Design

Bailey Ryan (M.A., '19) is a designer, scientist, and maker from Chapel Hill, North Carolina; she creates interactive learning spaces that communicate lessons about the natural world. Her work uses the power of play to share complex subjects with people of all ages.

Her thesis project, America’s Amazon, is a proposed children's nature center and learning garden exploring Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The Delta is a global treasure of biodiversity and a unique American wilderness. It is also little-known, difficult to visit, and under threat from climate change. The exhibition brings the Delta to Birmingham, AL - a sprawling city where the next generation of Alabama environmentalists are growing up with limited access to nature. An unassuming downtown building transforms into a greenhouse gallery full of life. Exciting playspaces and ecological interactives bring city children up close and personal with one of America’s last truly wild places.

Bailey Ryan

Bailey's project

Bailey's project

Graphic Design / Digital Media Design

Renee Glanville is using her talent in digital media design to showcase a new perspective on communication. As a member of the deaf community, Renee’s art is inspired by her personal experience with language barriers and the frustration of empty communication.  

Renee aims for her thesis, Communication Access and Language Barriers, to promote understanding between the deaf and hearing communities.  Through both projections and and videos featuring people trying to read lips, posters, and finger spell, Renee hopes to illustrate the presence of audism, or the oppression of deaf people in relation to communication, encouraging the understanding of deaf culture.

drawing of Renee

Spencer Strauss

Spencer Strauss (B.F.A., '19), from Philadelphia, PA,  knows that good design is transformative, but is interested in exploring the fine line between designing for business and making art for social change.  As a female designer, Spencer wants to explore the relationship between gender dynamics and design.


Spencer hopes through her commentary, op-ed style thesis, entitled Marketing Female Empowerment: Genuine or Superficial, she can delve deeper into the feminist movement, analyzing whether gendered marketing truly uplifts women.

Spencer's work

Spencer editing


Nicole Kremin (B.A., '19) was born with microphone in hand. She always had a passion for music, and began taking vocal lessons at the age of 10, building up a repertoire across genres. Upon arriving at GW, she immediately declared a minor in music and joined GW JiVE (Jazz Vocal Ensemble). Her love for music and the department was so strong, however, that a minor was not enough, and she soon declared a music major.

Her senior thesis recital, Renovations: Investigating the Boundaries of Repertoire Ownership, is a solo vocal performance primarily focused on Jazz and R&B. It will feature songs that have been relocated from one genre to another contrasting genre. The recital will examine the concept of ownership of genres or songs within music and if an artist has autonomy over them.

Nicole singing

Nicole plays piano



Morgan Furnari (B.A., '19) has always been interested in dance culture.  A dancer and choreographer from Miami, Florida, she has extensive training in both contemporary and hip-hop.  In her work, Morgan translates both styles into her own choreographic process. By mixing her strict technical background with her freedom to explore movement, she has been able to develop diverse choreography for both commercial and concert works.  


Her work, entitled Freedom. Influence. Culture, Hip-hop., displays hip-hop for what it is, an art-form.  Through the conducting of interviews with cultural influencers in the D.C. area, Morgan analyzes the effect of hip-hop on individual lives.  The work will feature a four-dimensional stage, allowing for the audience to truly experience the freedom associated with hip-hop dance.


group dancing

Julia Scolapio (B.A., '19), from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is interested in the stigmatization of disability within the context of Ecuador and Peru.  Through her study of equity in these regions, her dance is inspired by the fight underrepresented groups must face.

Julia’s performance will explore the relationship between the personal and the political in a fight for government recognition and support. One cast of dancers will represent the strength and power of political leaders and institutions, and the other will represent the individual and collective fight for government recognition and support.  Her project will showcase video projections and sound clips from the rural zones of Ecuador and Peru, where the individual battle for government recognition among disabled populations is prevalent.


Julia teaching dance

Julia explains

Photo of Anne Mancuso

Anne Mancuso (B.A., '19), a double major in both Dance and Psychology, wants to mix the two fields in order to create her own diverse field of work.  She is greatly inspired by Humanistic Psychology, specifically Yalom’s existential concepts.

Her composition for NEXT, entitled Encompassed, will focus on the psychological concept of existentialism and interactions between life and death, noting their cyclical nature.  Life and death are entities that everyone can interpret in their own unique ways. Encompassed will be a loose narrative of the personification of Life and Death, giving the audience a chance to connect with existential thought and ask questions about their own choices, actions, and morality. 

Anne's thesis


Anne's thesis


Emily Ariz (B.A., '19) is double-majoring in dance and international affairs.  During her time at GW, she has choreographed works that deal with a wide array of topics, allowing the audience to interpret the works through their own individual experiences.  Through her own self-reflection, Emily uses her identification as a people-pleaser to inspire her psychology-based art form.

Emily’s work is titled Expressive Suppression: A Study of Emotional Regulation.  Her work is inspired by what happens when feelings are suppressed for a prolonged period of time.  The piece will be separated into different sections based on the methods and stations of emotional regulation: reappraisal, suppression, social consequences of suppression, and resolution. 


Emily Ariz

Emily's thesis

Emily's thesis


Phoebe Workman (B.A., '19) has always been inspired by the magic of performance.  Double-majoring in Dance and Theatre, Workman has a deep understanding, appreciation, and love for the technicalities involved with production.  Through her work, Workman highlights the basic uses of space, providing explanations as to why such formations are used to create lasting images, wishing to reflect natural occurrences in the world, both in nature and human psychology.  

Workman’s project, Although I Do Not Know Where I’m Going Next, highlights concepts of existential space through the use of the stage.  It aims to answer questions regarding how space can convey emotion and narrative, regardless of the specific movements being performed. 


Phoebe's thesis

Phoebe's thesis