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Mangoes and bell peppers for sale at a stand, with handwritten prices

Alumni Spotlight: Lara Kirby Pardo

Jul 21, 2021 | CWPS-LSA

by Marjoris Regus

“I created this space [Blackbird Arts and Research] to encourage arts and research to co-exist – which is what CWPS is all about!”

Lara Kirby Pardo is an anthropologist, artist, and designer. Currently, she works as a Design Manager at Appriss Insights. Since joining the team in 2018, she has worked on implementing a human-centered approach to designing VINE. Prior to Appriss, she worked as a Product Designer in the Digital Experience Center at Humana where she focused on building new applications for Pharmacists and Field Care Managers. In addition to her work in design, she has over a decade of experience in research, art, education, and nonprofit work focused on migration and placemaking. Her writing has been published in Transition Magazine and the book, Transatlantic Feminisms: Women and Gender Studies in Africa and the Diaspora. Her work has garnered awards from institutions including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the University of Miami, and Brown University, and she has given talks and keynote addresses at Harvard University, University of Miami, and California State University-Fullerton.

Lara holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Ethnic Studies and Art from the University of Colorado.

Q: Tell me about the inspiration for your CWPS research.

I’m originally from Miami and grew up around Caribbean and Latin American culture. When I moved to Colorado for my undergraduate studies, I quickly realized the stark differences between life in the Mountain West and life in Miami, Florida. My move to Colorado sparked my interest in Caribbean and Caribbean diasporic visual art and performance. In graduate school, I continued this research and was very interested in exploring the performative aspects of visual arts – the theories of performance and how that relates to production and the whole process of art making. For my CWPS research, I traveled to Trinidad and Cuba to dig into the performances in the Caribbean.

Mangoes and bell peppers for sale at a stand, with handwritten prices

Photo taken by Lara Kirby Pardo in Cuba, 2008.

Q: What are some of your current works and projects?

Currently, I work as a UX researcher and designer. I also run Blackbird Arts and Research, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people and ideas through innovative projects. I created this space to encourage arts and research to co-exist- which is what CWPS is all about!

Through Blackbird Arts and Research, I started a project called Mapping Arts Project (mappingartsproject.org). This project maps cities through places where artists have historically lived and worked. Each city focuses on a specific time period, and connects artists to places where they lived, worked, or visited through maps, archival photographs and documents, and ethnographic and historical narratives.

Q: What advice do you have for current and future CWPS graduate students?

Through CWPS, you gain this breadth of knowledge to do so many things. Think broadly about what it is you want to do and how you can apply that to what you could be doing everyday.

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