In the wake of the New York Fashion Week, the Huffington Post summarized the participation of a diverse group of students from The Academy of Art University. Students with cultural backgrounds from China to California each pulled from recent experiences in their lives to create unique pieces for the runway. Dina Marie Lam, for example, honored her late aunt and designed clothing that felt soft and comforting. Another student found inspiration with the Japanese samurai and modeled his pieces to show their honorable strength. Yet another student created a more feminine-looking line that stemmed from her visit to northwestern China’s religious sites. Each student representing The Academy of Art University showed those at New York Fashion Week a promising look into the future of fashion and fashion designers.
This University does much more than participate in Fashion Week. The Academy of Art University is a privately owned, for-profit art school in San Francisco, California. Although the school served only 45 students and focused exclusively on advertising art when it was founded in 1929, it has since expanded to include more than 14,000 students seeking degrees ranging from art history to automotive restoration. Under the direction of President Elisa Stephens, the school has grown to become the largest private school of art and design in the country.
The University’s mission statement contains a commitment to prepare aspiring professionals for careers in design, communication, and the arts by creating a diverse academic and social environment. Fifty seven percent of students are female, and a combined sixty percent come from Hispanic, African American, Asian, or otherwise international backgrounds.
Expanding and diversifying the school’s programs and student body has enabled its alumni to thrive. Students from the School of Industrial Design recently created a user interface adopted by NASA to help astronauts remotely operate land-based robots. School of Photography graduate Deanne Fitzmaurice won a Pulitzer Prize for her depiction of an Iraqi child’s war torn experiences. And 2008 alumnus Rick Baker received an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling in Disney’s Maleficent.