Duncan Tonatiuh Smith came to Parsons to study design and liberal arts. As a graduating senior, he has fulfilled his goal, earning a combined degree in Writing and Integrated Design Curriculum. Beautifully rendered illustrations informed by ancient Mexican art spill from the pages of his thesis project, a short graphic novel based on the true story of a Mexican worker in New York City. Smith explains the inspiration for this project: “In my first year, I took Community Organizing at Eugene Lang College as part of my BA studies in the dual degree program, and I became entwined with a nonprofit group dedicated to workers’ rights. That’s where I met Sergio, and I modeled the main character in my graphic novel after him.” Still committed to promoting workers’ rights, Smith continued working with the group after the class ended. He hopes that his thesis project will advance this cause by “shedding light on the working Mexican population in New York, which is often invisible.”
Even with his diploma in hand, Smith had little time to relax: He received a contract from Abrams to write and illustrate Dear Primo, a children’s book about the experiences of two cousins, one living in New York City and the other living in Mexico, which he published in 2009.
Smith says one of the great things about Parsons is that “a lot of professors are people in the field right now.” He plans to continue writing and illustrating, looking forward to becoming one of their peers.