Black Art & Design Juried Student Exhibition: Zara Dixon
“The Grim Reaper” by Zara Dixon ’25 (Illustration), currently on display at the Black Art & Design Juried Student Exhibition, is a deeply layered work by a Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design sophomore.
“It’s actually how I started getting into painting more,” says Dixon, who studies Illustration but branches out to work on paintings. This submission, the product of an acrylic painting class, takes inspiration from Kehinde Wiley’s floral portraits and Renaissance paintings of John the Baptist. “The Grim Reaper” portrays a severed head on a platter against a backdrop of striking purple flowers and vines, all encased in a gilded frame. The painting explores themes of Black death, especially “Black male death … Black men deserve to grow old,” says Dixon.
Dixon asked her boyfriend to pose for the portrait and included many details hidden in plain sight referencing his involvement. Several nods to his birthday include a date painted on the hat and the purple flowers in the background. “I wanted to incorporate flowers that meant something for him and represented him,” says Dixon, who painted morning glories, which are September’s birth flower.
Currently in a mural painting class at MIAD, Dixon is exploring this side of her artistic practice. Working on “The Grim Reaper” has sparked Dixon’s interest in creating paintings with deep meaning and social commentary. “I’m working on a piece to do with women and pregnancies,” she explains about her current in-progress painting, which explores themes around bearing a child of color and the “struggles that would come with that.”
As a member of the Black Leaders and Artists Coalition (BLAC) at MIAD, Dixon appreciates all the opportunities that she has had access to through the student group, including working on a recent mural for the Milwaukee Bucks. “[BLAC is] the biggest impact in my art career so far,” she says. Dixon is also enjoying her class on murals. “I’m trying to get into more community based things,” she says. “I think I want to go that route here in Milwaukee. Using murals and beautifying the city is really interesting to me.”
View Zara’s work in the MIAD Black Art & Design Juried Student Exhibition, which is open to the public on MIAD’s first floor in the Community Hub (room 160) and runs until March 1. Keep up with Zara on Instagram and learn more about MIAD’s Illustration major!
Current and former First-Year Experience (FYE) students celebrated their video, animation and sound design works at the FYE Media Arts Festival 23 – an in-house film and media screening in MIAD’s Community Hub on November 16.
Brady VanderHart ’24 and Emma Jenkins ’25, Communication Design majors at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), were named Students to Watch 2024 by Graphic Design USA magazine (GDUSA).
MIAD alum Brandon Minga ‘04 (llustration), principal artist and founder of the House of Rad (hrad), was excited to host the 20th anniversary of the Feed Your Soul benefit for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin on November 3, 2023. This was the second consecutive time hrad has hosted the event.
Three MIAD Communication Design students received 60th anniversary American Graphic Design Awards from Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) magazine. The students were selected from over 8,000 entries, and judged alongside professional design work. Fewer than 10% of entrants received an award.
Interior Architecture and Design (IAD) seniors from MIAD were taken to new heights on November 13 when they toured the construction site of The Couture, a 44-story skyscraper under construction that will be Milwaukee’s tallest residential and mixed-use building. The tour was part of a series of tours their senior thesis “Building Systems” class is taking with instructor Dan Kalkman, AIA.