VPA Adjunct Spotlight: Dr. Aisha Densmore-Bey

The Visual and Performing Arts Department had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Aisha Densmore-Bey to the team in the fall 2023 semester to teach their course Architecture and the Human Condition. 
Headshot of Dr. Aisha Densmore-Bey
Headshot of Dr. Aisha Densmore-Bey

Dr. Aisha Densmore-Bey always had an interest in architecture, seeing it as an extremely creative and thought-provoking field. “It’s a fusion of arts, science, technology, and psychology… it’s multifaceted!” As a child, her mom raised her “on museums and art classes,” which she says began a “natural evolution” to her love of the field. After graduating from Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami, Florida, Densmore-Bey continued her interest in the field with achieving a Bachelor of Architecture from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. 

After graduation, she spent multiple years in the field of architecture growing her professional portfolio. Fifteen years after graduating, though, Densmore-Bey came to a harsh realization: though she had multiple projects under her belt, with years of experience, she was being turned down for folks that had higher qualifications in academia. With this motivation, she enrolled in the Strategic Design and Management Masters program at Parsons School of Design, graduating in 2017. Not stopping there, Densmore-Bey recently graduated from Harvard School of Design with her Doctorate of Design. “I decided that I would not let a credential be a barrier for me… no ‘paper’ would get in my way.”

Cover of "Who Made My Stuff? Miles Learns About Design" written and illustrated by Dr. Aisha Densmore-Bey
Cover of “Who Made My Stuff? Miles Learns About Design” written and illustrated by Dr. Aisha Densmore-Bey

The recent successful defense of her doctoral thesis was a continuation of her Masters thesis. Inspired by her own experiences of living in Boston, and the burden of the city’s cost-of-living, she designed a business model for a live/work space for creative folks. Looking at how these types of people navigate cities and spaces, her design would develop a livable space for the folks that cities are oftentimes “looking to attract.”

Applying to Harvard with this thesis, she expanded it further. Looking at it from an active point of view, she researched the effects of creatives coming into different parts of the city. “It evolved into ‘how do artists live in cities?’ ‘Are we victims of gentrification?… I thought about how artists change the city, form a city.”

Though her project was one of passion and love, it was incredibly intimidating. “However, it was incredibly rewarding. I loved it.”

When asked if she had any advice for folks looking to continue their education past their Bachelor’s, Densmore-Bey was full of encouragement, “Go for it, do it. It’s not easy, but nothing is!” Relaying that there’s endless resources and areas of help, she continued to say “don’t let people talk you out of it. No one can navigate or understand your path like you. Your path does not equal everyone else’s.”

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