Ms. Bain’s College Adventures – MIAD

Oh My, MIAD! Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, that is. Sitting next to the Milwaukee River in the historic Third Ward, this amazing college for the creative is Wisconsin’s only 4 year private college for visual art and design. Housed in a humongous 5 story industrial building with windows spanning up to sky-high ceilings overlooking the river, this college could not be more metro-cool. It is the perfect atmosphere for inspiring artists of all kinds to imagine and create their dreams. The only regret I had after leaving MIAD was not going into art myself. When I got home, I wanted to paint something….anything! I’d have a hard time settling on one of MIAD’s 5 majors, though:  Communication Design (CD), Illustration, Industrial Design (ID), Interior Architecture & Design (IAD), or New Studio Practice: Fine Arts. Picking one of their 8 minors would be no problem…I’d go for Psychology. As my tour guide, MacKenzie, and I stopped to analyze a few pieces, I thought about implementing thought provoking artwork into my counseling career. See how ideas are sparked? It’s in the air at MIAD.

MacKenzie is majoring in IAD at MIAD. As a sophomore, she was very knowledgeable about every discipline. As we trekked all 5 floors from end to end, we enjoyed raw art displayed everywhere while listening to a delightfully appropriate melody of saws, hammers, and Hendrix’s Voodoo Child. We found dust, paint, wood, fabric, canvas, clay, colored glass, cameras & A/V equipment, cozy nooks, and even an indoor tree house that I happily climbed up to. Old leather couches soften concrete cove spaces forming a backdrop to art magazines scattered on eclectic wood and metal student-created tables. Juniors, seniors, and some lucky sophomores get their own studio space which they are encouraged to put their mark upon. As I peeked into a few studios, my mind bent in ways it never went before.

MIAD allows students to choose their own foundations classes, exposing them to various media types and creating a rich environment for un-tapped interests and talents to be birthed. I’m sure Notre Dame Academy’s alumnus, Taylor Schaut, had fun with that; he is a freshman this year at MIAD. MacKenzie and I marveled at student projects like the electric motorcycle ID student Ben McGinley designed. His inspiration came by way of a mosquito, actually. After studying the mosquito’s aerodynamics, McGinley started by molded his idea out of clay. He eventually built a prototype and presented it to Harley Davidson, whom MIAD is tight with. Harley loved the design, purchased it, hired McGinley (they call him “Boy Wonder”), and now Harley has its first electric motorcycle. The YouTube, called Project Livewire, can be seen here: ( MIAD’s students are very fortunate to find themselves basking in the spotlight of so many area businesses as more and more relationships are forged between the college and smart companies looking for fresh innovation.

Across the street from MIAD is the new dorm building which I was told by David Sigman, Director of Admissions, would be the “icing on the cake” of my tour. Indeed! My daughters would have been embarrassed by my overt display of excitement as I walked into a “dorm room” (chic metropolitan flats, rather). Kelly Alexander, Senior Admissions Counselor, just beamed with pride and nodded her head. “We get that reaction a lot” she said. I knew it had to come with a price tag, so we sat down to talk money. Facts and figures can be found on MIAD’s website:  To make a degree more affordable for some students, MIAD holds auctions and art sales to raise scholarship money. MIAD also helps students fund their education by employing a good number of them. They wisely invest in their students by purchasing student-made furniture, blueprints, designs, fabrics, and also hiring them for various positions throughout the college.

Seeing MIAD student projects like stamps, bedspreads, cutting boards, toilets for the handicapped, and drill handles for senior citizens made me realize art isn’t simply a means to aesthetically enhance our lives. Art is functional and quite necessary. Art is everywhere, really. My visit to MIAD provided me with both knowledge and sensory enrichment and I feel blessed to share it with you.