Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Calef Brown

Second Advisor

Leela Corman

Third Advisor

JR Uretsky


From July to October 2023, I volunteered at Damayan Migrant Workers Association, a New York City-based grassroots organization run by Filipino im/migrant workers dedicated to combatting labor trafficking. Every meeting opened with the same reminder: stories shared in this room do not leave it. Illustration became a tool for respecting the privacy of the members, many of whom were undocumented. Avoiding faces, I copied down objects, places, maps, and handwriting.

Absence Leaves a Mark explores the idea of illustration as field note when working with migrant populations. Beyond depicting visual witness, illustrated field notes can contain findings from research and conversation. Illustration allows for creative use of space, cropping, and position, and embraces the subjectivity of experience.

My final project is a visual essay about Little Manila, a small area in Queens around which Filipino im/migrants have lived for decades. Created from notes taken during walks, conversations, and data analysis, I narrate my experience as a recent migrant from the Philippines discovering Little Manila, and depict the culture and issues of a community that strives to stay visible in the wake of a pandemic and under the threat of gentrification.



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