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65 5th Ave, Room 411
New York, NY, 10003
United States

Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought at the New School incubates advanced transdisciplinary research and practice at the intersection of social theory and design and fosters dialogue on related themes across the university.


Wendy S. Walters

Wendy S. Walters is Associate Dean of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons. Her current field of interest is the writing practice as a means for conducting research and translating methods across disciplines.

WENDY S. WALTERS (M.F.A./Ph.D, Cornell) was trained in literary studies, performance studies, political geography, and cultural studies. Her current field of interest is the writing practice as a means for conducting research and translating methods across disciplines. She is the author of a book of prose, Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal (Sarabande Books, 2015), named a best book of the year by Buzzfeed, Flavorwire, Literary Hub, The Root, and Huffington Post. She is also the author of two books of poems, Troy, Michigan (Futurepoem, 2014) and Longer I Wait, More You Love Me. Wendy has been awarded fellowships from Mass MoCA, New York Foundation for the Arts, The Ford Foundation, MacDowell, Yaddo, The Smithsonian Institution, and Bread Loaf. She currently serves Parsons as Associate Dean and Associate Professor in the School of Art and Design History and Theory.


At GIDEST, Wendy is developing a project that looks at the continued use of white paint from white-lead to latex. It is estimated that more than 80 million gallons of white house paint are sold every year in the U.S. This does not include white paints that are sold for construction or industrial use, for example, as the base coat of most major airline fleets. Throughout the late 18th and early 19th century many painters used white-lead paint in portraiture to accent the skin of their female subjects, just as their subjects used it to “paint” themselves for the occasion of being drawn. In cold creams, powders, and lotions, white-lead helped to redefine standards of beauty from the ancient Greeks to the modern era. These essays will wind through a selection of works in architecture, environmental and art history, and consumer cultures to consider how white paint gets employed in narratives about starting over, many of which eschew and flatten history.