Desire Lines



YSC Inaugural Student Exhibition

Spaces are ultimately defined by those who inhabit them.

Yale Schwarzman Center (YSC) was imagined to be a space that encourages community and connection, by being both a physical central thoroughfare of campus and a creative hub for new ideas and collaborations. To celebrate the opening of the center, students across the Yale community were invited to respond to the notion of desire lines within the built environment.

In urban planning, desire lines are paths started by individuals carving out new ways to move through a space; over time, they can become communal and even institutional. They are etched by intuition, convenience, and ultimately an interconnectedness among those who share a space. One person’s shortcut across a patch of grass eventually becomes a path for everyone walking by.

We encounter desire lines in municipal parks, in neighborhoods, hospitality spaces, parking lots, and waterfronts, all of which invite the discovery of alternative sites of entry and animation. The ubiquity of desire lines in planned environments reveals not only the generative potential of placemaking, but also the relationship between a devised space and its inhabitants.

This correspondence, a kind of call and response, is not unlike the dynamic between an artwork and the viewer. In the moment of encounter with an artwork, the viewer in some sense completes the action of the work, bringing it more into the world through a new relationality, proposed or made evident.

This exhibition asks students to consider spaces across campus through the lens of desire lines and examine the ways in which those spaces might reflect their individual needs and experiences. The voices we encounter in the resulting works in process reveal an acute, communal desire for connection, contemplation, and expression.

EXHIBITION ARTISTS: Awuor Onguru, Yale College ’24 / David Zheng (郑明远), Yale College ’23 / Lobbin Liu, Yale School of Art ’24 / Mary L. Peng, Yale School of Public Health ’23 / Nicole Niava, Yale School of Architecture ’24 / Osvald Landmark, Yale School of Art ’23 / Zack Reich, Yale College ’26

EXHIBITION CURATOR & PRODUCER: CYI Studio — Asher Young, Yale College ’17 / Kenyon Adams, Yale Divinity School & Yale Institute of Sacred Music ’15 / Angeline Wang, Yale College ’16

YSC ASSOCIATE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Jennifer Harrison Newman, Yale School of Drama ’11

PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT: Production Glue — Carrie Ferrelli, Jess Fusco, Mandy Berry

SPECIAL THANKS: Caite Hevner, Cody Boyce, Kate Krier, Kellie Ann Lynch, Lauren Dubowski & Yale's Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM)

Exhibition Curator & Producer: CYI Studio


“I’m really excited to be able to reach outside my medium of comfort (writing) and engage with other ways of expressing the things I see and feel about this world. I’ve felt for a while now that what I want to say can’t really be said in one voice — that is, only one medium. For me, this project is the proof of concept that I can be an artist any way I want to be.”

- Awuor Onguru

“I’m excited to share this space with such a great variety of artists with different ideas.”

- David Zheng

“I visited the building 10 years ago as a tourist and was astonished by its beauty and history. I'm excited to make my voice known and showcase my visuals as a Chinese art student, and about the resonance of the corresponding moment years ago.”

- Lobbin Liu

"Coming from a public health background, I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to showcase my passion for bridging the worlds of art, science, and health by expressing my understanding of holistic health through artistic means. I am very humbled to be surrounded by supportive, agile, and energetic minds that constantly encourage me to push the boundaries of my thoughts and creativity towards a deeper understanding of my relationship with the world."

- Mary Peng

“The wall onto which I am displaying my piece during this exhibition is the threshold that allows the viewers to ascend to the conceptual reality I want them to experience. So for me, this exhibition has been an opportunity to explore projected visuals to create a spatial experience that differs from my architectural explorations. It has been a learning opportunity for me and encouraged me to expand my output as a designer.”

- Nicole Niava

“90% of the work that people do at this school never really leaves the studios or classrooms, so I think it's very important, whenever a platform is offered to publish ideas, to consider using it. This project exhibition in particular strikes me as a touchstone that enables people who work visually to really materialize their ideas to the public, and in some ways make visible the collaboration itself.”

- Osvald Landmark

“I'm particularly excited about the size of the displays on which our work will be presented. I've never been able to view my work on such a large scale!”

- Zack Reich