2018 NEXT Featured Students

2019 Featured Students


A woman sits on a bench in an underwater city

Yunwen Zhu has been working as a designer on various exhibits at Howard + Revis Design Services since June 2017. Before that, she was a design intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and previously was the graphic design lead at a print company in Canada. Yunwen was attracted to the exhibition design field by innovative exhibitions and her desire to create a unique experience for diverse audiences through her expertise in 2D, 3D, and sketching. She grew up in China and spent seven years in Canada for school and work before came to the U.S.. Travel is her favorite hobby, allowing her to see exhibitions around the world. With her international background and diverse experiences, Yunwen can explore design thinking in a broader cultural perspective.

Yunwen Zhu's thesis exhibition, Journey to A Forgotten Place, features a submerged City Shicheng from China. It tells a story of an unfamiliar place/event in the past that is no longer accessible to the public yet will be made available through exhibition design. The goals of this exhibition are to bring visitors on a journey to learn about this forgotten place, to be in awe of the beauty of the sunken city and to evoke their feelings and memories of a past life.


Case Baumgarten sits at a canvas painting a work in progress

Case Baumgarten works primarily with the human figure, both in 2D drawings and paintings, as well as 3D sculptures. The majority of his work deals with large realistic renderings of the human body, while still exploring and exposing the color, space, and shapes that are depicted in his paintings. In this sense, he creates an unsure conversation between what is real and what is abstract.

His Moon Daisies thesis series aims to relay some of the recurring struggles of specific homeless individuals whom he has shared thoughts with. He explains that he is not trying to solve the global problem of homelessness, but instead, wants to force attention towards the issue through the measures of creativity. His focus is on the juxtaposition of ways our society views the homeless and those in plight, loss, or in turmoil. As a collective, we have to realize that this problem is systemic in our nature as society.


Laylaa Randera stands before large scale prints of her work

Laylaa Randera’s artwork takes a critical view of social, political and cultural issues. She is interested in the way the archive, myth, iconography and symbolism relate to the contemporary world. She turns a lens on the unseen side, exploring notions of visibility and invisibility, as well as tropes of gender and race, aiming to subvert and obscure the “status quo”. While her themes and subject matter are diverse, her focus is largely geared towards contemporary social disturbances - from protests and rallies to underground music events. As a native of South Africa, she looks for ways to bring its social climate into a global dialogue.

Her master’s thesis explores how protest movements form and deteriorate, how the culture of resistance spreads across nations. She looks at how participants, activists, and advocates interact and respond through gesture and expression, as well as how the opposites - censoring, disenfranchisement, exploitation, commodification - are signified and negotiated over history. By using everyday materials, such as cardboard, to replicate canonical high-brow artwork, which helps her to think about the degradation of things and elude to the immediate, urgent creation of protest apparatus. Themes of memory and remembrance become essential to the trajectory of culture, and the uncertainty of how long it will last.


During the NEXT exhibition, there will be a unique multimedia dance thesis performance entitled Go! The piece is senior Dance BFA Linda Ryan's Honor's Thesis and also includes cast members Trevor Frantz and Emily Ritter.

Three dancers lie atop each other onstage staring intensely at a strobe light



  • Friday, May 4 at 7pm
  • Saturday, May 5 at 5pm


Flagg Building Rotunda, 500 17th St NW, Washington, D.C.


Go! is a multimedia dance piece that incorporates GoPro action cameras into the choreography. Audience members can watch the performance in-person or they can tune in to the live video feed from a camera strapped to one of the dancers bodies — or even a combination of the two. The two simultaneous performances — one physical, one virtual — confront the viewer with questions about perception, reality, and the veracity of the online world. What happens when a physical artform like dance is forced into a virtual environment? What does it mean to put moving bodies into digital world where having a body is irrelevant? In many ways, dancing with the camera is more intimate than dancing with another person is. The piece grapples with the possibility that watching the livestream is more "real" than watching the dance in "real life".


FREE; Patrons attending on Friday May 4, 2018 will be admitted through the New York Avenue entrance after 6:30 pm; Patrons on Saturday can enter through the front door.