Thank You.


Once again, it’s late. As 4AM comes around in a few minutes, so does the final draft of my thesis paper. The last thing, and maybe most important piece of writing I did included my acknowledgements and dedication. This past year has been filled with ups and downs, changes, turns, twists, but I would not have had it any other way. The constant has been the desire to find a balance between living away from home but honoring where I am from. Below is a screen shot of the first page of my thesis paper. Thank you to all of you, mentioned and unmentioned, for being a part of this experience. Whether it was a willing or unwilling contribution, it  made a difference. You are going down in #matsumotothesis history, forever.

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Final countdown.

When I started working on this thesis, it was a project. The thought of a yearlong project was daunting. What do I want to do for a year? What will hold my interest and continually spark creativity? I think when I first started this project, it was difficult, because I thought of it as a project. Something with a deadline and requirements rather than what I was truly interested in. Once I broke away from the formalities and thought about why everything I was researching was important to me it turned back as a reflection on myself. It was about how all these things that I was exploring were really parts of my upbringing that were and still remain, important to me. These are parts of my heritage that I am now taking with me, as I move away from home and the comfort of family. These are the things that I share with others and what make me who I am today.

A lot has happened!





With the show opening in just TWO days, this weekend has been a battle o trouble shooting and installing. Luckily, school became 24hrs Sunday night so I stayed there along with some other dedicated thesis-ers until 5:45AM! It was a super productive and gratifying work session because all the pieces that I had prepped finally came together! I still have a few final touches and a video to edit but it’s looking promising. Work, work, work!

Gangsta’s Paradise

Last night, or early this morning, I went to my bed to “rest” around 4AM only to wake up at 6AM. I had a dream and the background went to the tune of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” I opened my eyes, hearing the same thing. Disoriented and tired, I realized my computer was just shuffling through songs, but really, I was confused. These late nights are getting to me, but soon, in a few days, it will all be over. For now, I’ll be in Paradise…

Display Decisions

Today was one of the hardest days. Why? Because I am being indecisive and over-thinking and am struggling with commitment. I have been thinking about my plan for my exhibition for a while now, playing with the idea of frames on the wall and how many I would have and in what organization. Part of it will be having a monitor that plays video, another part is having family images and stories behind different parts of my thesis. Tonight I came up with a couple of organizations, with these two in the running for final options. I decided on the second, because of the way it also reflects family picture frame arrangemetns. Going to purchase my frames tomorrow and get it up on the wall. It has to happen SOON because we are supposed to be done with the install end of day, MONDAY!

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I also went to Home Depot, AGAIN today, to buy myself an extension cord and some wall mounting strips for the frames. I am spending more money there than anywhere else. So far I have already got myself a japanese hand saw, heavy duty plier, wood filler, wood block conditioning oil, metal clamps, paint, screws of various sizes, casters, nails, velcro–it’s never ending. Whenever I say, “this is my last trip to Home Depot,” I find myself going back the next day.


April 29&30





Spent one day sanding my platform, spent another day upholstering the aides with fabric and one night being influenced by Liz Tolson and wore a headband while working. I was trying to post this last night but fell asleep in the process. My aching body finally gave up and put itself to sleep before I did.

Field trip to Prince Lumber!

After a discussion yesterday with the Parsons woodshop guy, Vinny, I decided on how I was going to build my little platform for the show. Unfortunately it seemed to be a bigger, and more costly endeavor than I expected. Vinny suggested getting the lumber ordered and delivered to school. The place that would do that for me in the city is Prince Lumber located on 15th and 9th.

After talking with my thesis show neighbors and classmates, Youmna and Daniela they also decided they needed a platform for their project. Today we went together on a field trip to spend more money on thesis.

Prince Lumber has really great customer service. I talked with Phil, and he helped us figure out what we needed. After showing him my drawing and diagram, explaining what it was for, going back and forth through some confusing conversations about structure, and taking many trips in and out to see different types of plywood we finally came to a conclusion. Phil was very patient with us and I thank him for that! He showed me options I had but also kept in mind that we were on a budget and spending money on something we didn’t plan on having and something we will not be keeping after the show. They will be cutting our pieces down to size and then delivering to us tomorrow morning sometime between 9am and 12pm. This means having an unusually early start to my day!
On my way home I stopped at my other professor, Claudia’s apartment because I mentioned I needed to locate a drill to build this contraption and she had one! Amazing. I’m not sure if I will be building anything tomorrow, but I will definitely go looking for the right screws and supplies I need. I also think going to have to get some sanding supplies and something to finish the surface.

Just a pic of my essentials: Wallet, check. Computer, check. Notebook, check. Drill? Check.

Blue tape


Today I went to my space to figure out some space issues. Now that I know I want to build a platform to display my project the first step was figuring it how big it needs to be. After doing a couple of layouts with blue tape, I decided that it will be 115″ long and 72″ deep. That allows the platform to fit in the little alcove. Another issue is that there are no outlets nearby so by having this raised floor, it can also be a place to hide the MacMini and electrical cords.

After figuring out my dimensions I went to the woodshop and had a talk with the tech that was working. I basically explained to him what I wanted to hold and how I had no idea how to do it. I did do some research online to look for other people who made platforms, but most were for beds. He told me that it should be pretty simple and they can help. I just need to be sure to get the wood. They only have 1x 3’s available there so if I want 2×4’s I’m on my own. Also on my own to figure out what’s going on top of the thing. I can definitely buy wood but the probably is definitely the transportation.

I thought I was done building and coughing up the cash for all this, but I guess I thought wrong! Thesis never ends! I also need to work on my paper…I feel bad for putting it on the back burner but I need to throw that back on the fire and cook it up until its well-done.

I also took a minute to do some work with my roomie in his space. He decided he’s gonna rip of this ugly cork-board/dry wall that was on his wall to make it have a smooth surface. The problem? It’s just gonna take more time and a few more coats of paint! He can do it, and I’ll help because I like that stuff. I think by the end of thesis, I’ll be ready to build a house—a bird house




Today I thought a little bit more about this transportation issue I’m dealing with. After last night I realized that it is easier to not have the cart be pulled by the collapsible hand cart because it becomes a pain to carry up and down the subway. It also makes it a little more bulky than I would want. I tried this out yesterday with the rope to see how that would go but I don’t think it’s ideal.
Scanning through Instagram, here’s a picture from my dinner with my friend Marisa yesterday. This also got me thinking that I need to start working on the web presence a little bit. So far I just have this blog and of course the hashtag, #matsumotothesis!

Thesis in Action


Tonight I had my first official dinner with my dear friend, Marisa.  A fellow MFADT student and one of the first friends I made here at Parsons. Marisa and I met on the first day of school, and since then have become very close. We have been through a lot together here in the city–hurricanes, earthquakes, but above all, fun-filled memories. I brought Marisa Panera Bread because she wrote to me about how it was one of her family’s go-to meals. It is also the go-to meal when we are together and what we bought for ourselves before Hurricane Sandy hit and we spent the week together.matsumotothesis

After setting things up, we put our phones in the box to have a technology-free dinner. Although, I did take pictures and record sound to document our experience! I found that ironic since in some ways, that can also be distracting. My thesis has always been about my family rituals and how I am sharing that with others. Once the phones were out of sight, we proceeded to enjoy our meal.


I learned a little more about Marisa tonight. Although we spend a lot of time together, there are some things we don’t get around to discussing. As I shared my family dinner experiences with Marisa and how this thesis has evolved around my upbringing and changes in my life, she told me about her life.  Marisa is Jewish, and growing up grew up eating Kosher meals and celebrating Sabbath on Saturdays. I think Marisa is my first Jewish friend, so learning about these customs is very new to me. She told me about how eating certain foods was a treat, but also about how these rituals and values of her culture were important to her and her family. There were also certain foods that she remembers her mom cooking for certain occasions that instantly remind her family meal time. They were never allowed to watch TV at dinner either, but she did listen to the news on the radio! For the first time Marisa and I exchanged conversation about things we didn’t focus on before and it was nice to do that. This also made me see my thesis as more than just me sharing my stories, but receiving stories from other people.  The table is the set up, but the content comes from the conversations.jenmatsumoto_matsumotothesis

After dinner, it was time to wrap everything up and take my thesis back home. The struggle of getting a box up and down the subway is a welcomed challenged. It is also a great conversation starter. People look at me and I know they are probably thinking “what in the world…” but I also see that as an awesome reaction. I want to do something that not only pushes myself out of my comfort zone but gets questioned by other people.

This afternoon in the subway while I was bringing my thesis up to school to prep for my dinner with Marisa, I met someone in the subway station. His name was Imran, from Chicago, but living in LA. We had a really great conversation on the R Train as I explained my project to him. After this run-in it also got me thinking how this project may not just be about the conversations I have while at dinner with friends, but in transit while moving this box. The ‘big red bag” sure looks like something out of a Santa Claus tale, but also opens up as a topic for discussion for anyone–something that I rarely do here in the city.  Most of the time everyone is busy reading, looking down, listening to their headphones and really missing that face-to-face conversation. Tonight on my way back home, someone in the elevator of my building asked if I had my laundry on wheels. I said no, but she responded, “Oh, I thought it was your laundry and thought ‘what an awesome idea’.” So maybe after thesis is over, I’ll repurpose the bag for laundry transport, but for now, I’m excited to see what other encounters and conversations this big red bag, and wooden boxes will have in store for me.