MIAD River Rat recognized on World Rat Day
The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) celebrates its iconic River Rat mascot on World Rat Day, April 4, 2023. Situated along the Milwaukee River, the institution proudly spotlights its favorite scrappy and resourceful rodent.
Although no live rats can be found in the building, students and visitors might catch a glimpse of the mascot at many college-wide events. During the recent MIAD Defines: Play activities, the River Rat spent most of the day riding the freight elevator and chatting with students. A golden rat was also awarded to the winner of the MIAD Defines scavenger hunt.
Despite its admittedly unsettling appearance, the mascot is beloved by most students. “He’s absolutely original. I love it … it’s horrifying and yet it has personality,” said one student. “The rat really truly does look like a river rat. It’s gangly and bedraggled,” said another. “I like the mascot, it’s a cute mascot. It’s different, it’s not like an eagle or something. It’s kind of funky.”
One of many ways students engage with the River Rat is through an annual T-shirt design contest. The 2022 winner, Mikayla Kaufman ’23 (Illustration), created a graphic that encapsulates the essence of the River Rat. Selected through a campus-wide vote, the winning design is printed on limited edition T-shirts and sold through MIAD’s store, along with other River Rat merch.
While it may be an unconventional choice for an often-reviled rodent to serve as a college mascot, rats embody many characteristics celebrated at MIAD. Rats are curious, intelligent, empathetic, resilient and social creatures. These characteristics align surprisingly well with MIAD’s own values of courage, integrity, kindness, community, innovation and inclusion and make the River Rat a stellar choice for MIAD’s mascot.
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.