• Gnarls Narwhal

  • A person in a Gnarls the Narwhal costume sits on the stairs at the University Center.
  • Gnarls Narwhal (they/them) is the official mascot for The New School, a social justice advocate, and the first and only sea mammal to earn a BA/BFA dual degree from The New School. Gnarls is a Pisces. 

    Early Life

    Gnarls was born on March 7, in the Arctic depths of the North Atlantic Ocean somewhere between the Baffin Bay–Davis Strait area, near Greenland, and Svalbard, Norway. Their mother, Mor Narwhal, and father, Far Narwhal, were traditionally nomadic narwhals but were unconventional in that, while raising Gnarls and their sister, Gnash, they tended to travel beyond the waters surrounding Greenland and Norway to farther-flung icy regions like Iceland, Sweden, and Russia. This familial habit of exploration and seeking out new experiences and adventures left an indelible impression on Gnarls and Gnash and played an integral role in their adult lives.

    Arctic Displacement

    The year Gnarls was born, data from NASA's GRACE satellites revealed that ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland were beginning to lose substantial mass. By the time Gnarls was 12 years old, the Arctic home of the Narwhal family had seen distressing levels of ice loss. This environmental catastrophe forced Mor, Far, Gnash, and Gnarls into an Odyssean journey to find a hospitable alternative to their familiar frozen waters.


    At age 18, still adventurous but now an adult narwhal, Gnarls floated their way to New York City, eventually landing near Chelsea Piers on the island of Manhattan. There, through random encounters with dancing students in a course called Vogue’ology, Gnarls was directed to The New School, a place they said was “a good fit for anyone with a passion for social justice who might be a little ... different.” Gnarls was intrigued.      

    That fall, Gnarls enrolled as a first-year student at The New School, where they were able to pursue their love of art, academics, athletics, activism, and every combination thereof. The New School’s interdisciplinary curriculum strongly appealed to Gnarls and led them to pursue a BA/BFA dual degree, studying Communication Design at Parsons and Environmental Studies at Lang. The intersection of these two programs would later bolster Gnarls in their environmental justice initiatives and make their signs all the rage at climate change protests. 

    Gnarls also gravitated toward clubs, activities, and other aspects of student life. Seeking to meet new people, stay healthy, and maintain their body mass of roughly 50 percent blubber, Gnarls embraced student activities and quickly became the face of the university’s Student Leadership and Involvement department. 

    Career at The New School

    Gnarls has had a profound uniting effect on the New School community. Shortly after graduating, they were asked to return as the university’s “sea mammal-in-residence,” serving as an advocate for students and all of their scholarly and extracurricular activities, an attendee at political protests, and ambassador for oceanic lifeforms. This is a personally and professionally rewarding role Gnarls fills to this day that draws on all of their skills and bolsters this forward-thinking community.

    Where to Meet Gnarls

    You might have seen Gnarls out and about on campus at various New School events, greeting new students during Orientation Week, or posing with random pets on the street. Wherever Gnarls might be, you can easily track them using the hashtag #wheresgnarls on social media.

    Gnarls knows that when we support one another on campus, our pride and spirit grow, which is why they make it a priority to attend New School events. If you would like to see Gnarls at your next event, fill out the booking form to kick off the appearance process.

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    Student Leadership & Involvement

    72 Fifth Avenue, 3rd floor
    New York, New York 10011

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