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MIAD Illustration senior weaves Chinese and Western fashion

Intricate illustration of a person wearing a Chinese-inspired dress in front of a horse.

YongXue Hayden, “Intertwined,” 2024.

Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) senior YongXue Hayden (Illustration) believes that “creatives are always the trendsetters of the world. So, in 50 years, I’m sure art and design students will be up on the coolest new tech, fashion trends and latest entertainment.”

Through their senior capstone project, Intertwined, Hayden is living that belief. “An expression of self-discovery and acceptance,” they say, the work is “a collection of repeat pattern designs and garments that combine Western cowboy and Chinese textiles and fashion.”

“As a Chinese American, I occupy a space of in-between,” Hayden says, “where I’m considered a foreigner in both my home and birth country — a common experience among many diasporic communities in America. Yet, furthermore, as a Chinese adoptee, I grew up with little influence from my cultural heritage, distancing me from my Asian American peers. Sometimes it feels as if my Chinese identity really only hangs by a twisted thread of genetic proof.”

“I wondered what would happen if I combined the insecurity regarding my Chinese identity with something from my American upbringing that I’m truly fond of: Western horseback riding, [even though] mixing it with aspects of Chinese culture may seem like adding oil to water.

“Ranging from the usage of animal and nature motifs to the symmetrical designs and earthy color palettes, both Chinese and Western wear textiles/fashion have their own variations of these elements. Together, the result is an intensely eclectic collection where these two influences are weaved together to complement each other. It’s neither one or the other — it’s a coexistence, a balance of identity and a representation of what it’s like to be me.”

Hayden’s work is on view with that of 210 seniors at the MIAD 2024 Senior Exhibition, April 19 – May 11.

YongXue Hayden

YongXue Hayden

Reflecting on their time at MIAD, Hayden says, “I’m lucky to have met so many amazing peers and friends; it’s been so fun to see everyone’s work develop throughout these four years. I’ve enjoyed having faculty like Andy Pilarski, Drew Maxwell and my thesis professor Christiane Grauert, who are all passionate about what they enjoy in art and about what their students come up with. I’d say it’s always the people that you meet and connect with that makes the most of the college experience.”

Hayden chose MIAD’s Illustration major “because I was initially interested in creating stories through single and/or sequential illustrations. I was looking forward to doing figure drawing to improve my anatomy skills, and the Illustration major had that as part of the curriculum. Even though my thesis project now is more fashion based, I always try to include some kind of storytelling into any work that I create.”

After graduation, and in addition to their interest in fashion, Hayden is “excited to work on developing some comics for my personal work. One of my inspirations during middle/high school was manga. Whenever I’ve gotten a chance to do comic work at MIAD, I’ve always enjoyed it the most.”

MIAD Galleries are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 273 E. Erie St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

Learn more about MIAD’s Illustration major. Visit MIAD.

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