Street Style​​: Graduate Exhibition One

by Catherine Eves
Photos by Greg Stephen Reigh (BFA 2013)

The weather was dreary during the opening reception of Graduate Exhibition One at SAIC Galleries, but School of the Art Institute of Chicago students brightened the day with loud colors and bold prints.

We connected with some students to talk about balancing personal style with studio wear, and the best way to make an impression at a show opening.

A student stands in front of a wall of framed artwork while wearing a long dress in orange, blue, and brown shades.

Cassidy Skillman | MFA 2023

“I was thinking a little bit about doom and also a little bit about bright colors. A lot of the work here today is kind of gloomy, with the overarching doomsday feel to it, so I was trying to bring in a little bit of that, as well as those neutral colors. Most of my style ends up being studio attire, so it’s flexible, comforting and interchangeable. When it comes to my fancy wear, it’s breathable, also flexible, and bright—I like to throw in the brights with the darks. I’m from East California/Bay Area, so I still have that laid-back kind of beachy, carefree style that California really brings, but battling this city, you really have to dress for that.” 

A close-up shot of a student's brown leather boots

Michael Dzitko | Dual MA 2023

“I’m a little over-academic so I try to balance streetwear with academia. My style is varied: relaxed and uptight. I kind of became fashion conscious when I was 18. I went to a British boarding school in England for five years when I was 12, so I started wearing a lot of blazers, ties, very formal academic attire, and then I moved to Chicago where I picked up on streetwear trends, and I made it my own by combining the two. I love the Notre brand—they did a collab with the Nike Dunks and I love the converse colorway. I’m fairly new into sneaker culture but they were one of my first purchases a couple years ago.”

A close-up of the student's white Nikes.
A student poses in the gallery while wearing an orange sweater, brown jacket, jeans, and white Nikes.
A student poses in the gallery while wearing a lace skirt and orange tights.

Mae Gomez | MFA 2023

“I wanted to look like a mermaid today. I’ve been trying to venture out into my own personal style again, so sea punk and all these little things that I was interested in when I was younger are kind of resurfacing. Even down to the colors, the mix and match of materials—I do that in my own work in mixed media, so it’s nice to see myself as a palette. My style is eccentric, forward, and comforting.”  

A close-up shot of a leather bag with a metal letter B.
A student poses in front of colorful curls of confetti.

Yiwei (Leo) Wang | MFA 2023

“Today’s the reception so I’m trying to dress up to match my piece. My piece is a lot about clubbing culture, party culture, so I decided to dress in the kind of clubbing or disco way. For this whole installation, I’m trying to capture the moment that the party’s just over, when the party lights are still on, the disco ball is still on, and the lights just got turned up—this awakening moment is what I’m trying to capture. In three words, my style is bold, colorful, and with a hint of vintage. Chicago’s city vibe kind of encouraged me to express myself better, especially in the art school field.”

A close-up shot of black shoes and the hem of purple pants.
A student poses in an all-blue outfit in front of several large canvases.

Kelly Xi | MFA 2023

“I wanted to match the deep-sea oceanic environment of my installation, Benthos of the Synthetic Suns. Today, I’m really digging the long blue skirt with the silk-like top; some lightness and some heaviness below. I lived in New York for about seven years before coming to Chicago, and I feel like I’ve become much more laid-back about my style. I work in ceramics and glass a lot so I need clothes that can keep up, so I wear a lot more coveralls in my day to day. My personal style in three words is esoteric, organic, and feral.” 

Xingrui Xu | MFA 2023

“I like all black, and I want to look professional. It’s a big time for me. I do ceramics so usually I just wear work suits, and sports shoes give me comfort. My style is relaxed, simple, and clean.”

A close-up photo of New Balance sneakers.
A student poses in a black Carhartt jacker
A student poses in front of two canvases while wearing a layered outfit.

Lexi Herman | MFA 2023

“I’ve been working with a lot of mirroring and reflection and camouflage; thinking about how we used to historically see ourselves in relation to the earth, so in streams and rocks, but now our reflection is through our phone. My favorite part of my outfit is the tulle. I was thinking about how the layers of transparency and sparkle relate to my work. My style focuses on texture, form, and color.”

A close-up of a student's futuristic pink sandals and yellow socks.