Shay Paresh and Alicia Waller

Shay Paresh & Alicia Waller 

JUNE 8-22, 2017

This show explores normalization through both visual and sound mediums.  A range of models are featured in portraits by creator-photographer, Shay Paresh, that celebrate feminine beauty that exists as a departure from the dominant western media narrative.  Concurrently, music will be played throughout the gallery by soprano, Alicia Waller, that intentionally uproots American musical hegemony by applying the classical voice outside of dominant American and European musical forms.

Normalization is a relatively new term to gain traction in the realm of academia and pop culture analysis, yet it is the thread that binds artists Shay Paresh and Alicia Waller’s work together.  While normalization can be considered akin to concepts like diversification and inclusivity, the artists consider it to be an evolution of these essential values.  They believe that normalization reaches beyond, as it not only accepts differences, but also demands recognition of them.

Having met in the graduate program at the Gallatin School at NYU, Shay and Alicia began to take note of the commonalities between their goals despite their differing approaches.  They realized that they are each attempting to answer the same questions through their work.  How can popular art consumption be more inclusive and reflective of the diversity of our world?  How can art be used to reorient popular culture’s standards for worthiness and beauty?

Both Shay and Alicia experienced upbringings that were seminal toward the development of their artistic crafts, having each existed as minorities in more ways than one.  Both found comfort, however, in the practice of their respective talents.  But, they also experienced the jolt of realizing that the mainstream media that produced the art they most adored did not reflect the fullness of the worlds that they lived in. As a result, each have become determined to make art that not only makes passive stabs at diversification, but normalizes it.


Shay Paresh is a creative based in New York, New York working in the fashion industry.  Her work has been featured across lifestyle, beauty, and ready to wear brands.  Shay explores normalization by promoting a range of “atypical” fashion subjects in her portrait photography.  She is particularly interested in ethnic and body positivity.

Alicia Waller is a classically trained soprano from who uses music performance to exchange cultural knowledge and advocate for musical diversity.  Alicia explores normalization by singing songs from across the world in an effort of music diplomacy.  She can be seen in operatic, concert, and recital performances throughout New York City.

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