Massimo Avanzato

Drawing Focus - Incoming class of 2021

Parsons ADHT’s Casey Haymes chatted with students from the Parsons incoming class of 2021 to capture their final weeks of academic anticipation.

How do identity politics and talent intersect in your work?

In my art, I’m focusing on LGBTQ subject matter, which is based on my experience as a gay artist. I did a series about gay stereotypes when I applied to Parsons. It’s really important.

What are your top three concerns about starting at Parsons? Graduating from Parsons?

It’s expensive to attend The New School and live in New York City.

Another concern for me is my drawing class. As a photographer I’m not really skilled in that area, but I enjoy the challenge.

Financial concerns and questions about paying for college and living in New York City can be big for many students; find out more about the resources for New School students here.

Do you think that Parsons is open to exploring approaches to representative drawing?

You can do your own thing and explore boundaries. Based on the two days of drawing classes I’ve had so far it seems there will be room to be inventive.

Have any stories you want to share about applying to Parsons?

My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years +, and for my Parsons application I wanted to represent LGBTQ stereotypes. I decided to take photos of him. He lives four hours away from where I lived. His mom was very strict and never let him sleep over at my house. My boyfriend understood how important the Parsons application project was to me, so he traveled the four hours. I took photos of him in a mad rush, and then he traveled four hours back home. It was amazing that he did that for me.

Habits you hope to break while at Parsons/TNS?

I usually get nervous when I place an order at a restaurant in my hometown. I feel like that mindset is breaking here already, though. There are so many people in NYC, and they don’t seem to care as much. Another habit I want to change is to become more independent. I also want to become more mindful of the number of clothes I buy.

What was problematic about ordering at a restaurant in your hometown?

It was so small, and I would see people I knew who worked in the restaurants, and see them walking down the main street. It made me feel awkward.

Which is worse, being right or wrong?

For me, being right is worse because when I’m wrong I can learn from the experience. Then there is an opportunity to evaluate and gain understanding of others’ perspectives.

How does that point of view function in a classroom setting with grades at stake?

I like to focus on improving and showing that I’m learning from what I did wrong so I can do more of what’s right and grow creatively.

Were there any concrete ways of saying goodbye this summer, before starting at The New School?

My dad owns an Italian/Sicilian restaurant with family-cooked meals. My uncle also worked there and my aunt made the desserts. I’ve been working there since I was 12. I was the only family employee who didn’t speak Italian. I’m relieved to leave it behind, for now, because I know I’ll be asked to help out in the future. Hopefully it’ll sell by then.

Plans for stress management here?

If I’m really stressed out I’ll do a long guided meditation. I love hot yoga, too, which helps me clear my mind and stretch deeply.

Student Health Services offers a lot of options for stress management, too.

How did you fall in love with Parsons?

While touring the campus, we visited the photography program building, and I saw a lot of political art stickers on the wall, which I found refreshing. When we toured the library, I saw an entire section on feminism within art and other politically infused art books, which I related to.

Between art and politics, does one give birth to the other for you?

My art is a platform for expressing my political ideas.

Where did you first hear of Parsons?

I attended a Fashion Institute of Technology photography program the summer before entering 11th grade of high school. I was in class with Myles Loftin. He was going to be a senior in high school and was looking for colleges at the time. He talked about touring Parsons, Pratt, and some other places. Parsons was his favorite.

If you could change one thing about the Parsons/TNS application process?

Some applicants may benefit from having options to writing so many essays. But I liked it all. I especially enjoyed writing an essay about the Parsons project because it allowed me to explain my art. The whole process was a test of my ability to create art in a limited period of time. I had a month.

What about your dreams helps you keep your reality real?

Sometimes when I look at the many talented photographers who are succeeding, it feels like there’s only room in the spotlight for a few. Then I get centered by remembering that my viewpoint and my art is unique to me. No one else can create the content that I create.


Learn more about Massimo’s work at