Emerging Student Artists: Loyola creatives find community on campus

Loyolas creatives find community on campus

Ri Kailah Mathieu, artist and painter from New Orleans, Louisiana paints at her studio in Treme on Aug. 30, 2022.

Brooklyn Joyner, Staff Writer

Loyola’s community is deeply rooted in the arts, filled with emerging creators in every corner of the campus.

“When I’m making clothes, that’s when I feel most inspired and content with myself,” said China Rae Dix, a neuroscience senior at Loyola.

Dix, a fashion designer, is one of many Loyola students who have taken a chance on their own art and shared it with others.

She started sewing basic items like pillow cases and pajama pants in middle school. She still owns the very first pair of pants she made. Through snickers she shared she wears them to bed to this day.

The New Orleans native said it all started in the eighth grade when she took a home economics class. Now, sewing has become a skill she cannot escape.

“I felt at peace with it, and I wanted to keep doing it,” she said. “It’s something that stayed consistent in my life. I never not wanted to sew, and I can’t say the same for other hobbies in my life.”

The neuroscience major said most people are surprised to learn she is a fashion designer.

“I only saw myself as a STEM or academic person, but I am a creative person too,” Dix said.

And Dix hopes to be even more creative moving forward. She explained she has progressed in moving past the simple act of sewing pieces to put a focus on creating a style of her own. One of her favorite creations is a hot pink blouse she made recently.

“That shirt, I literally thought of in my head, and I didn’t have a pattern. I just cut stuff out and went with what I liked as I sewed. I didn’t look at other things for inspiration,” Dix said.

Dix said the students at Loyola encouraged and shaped her into the designer she is today.

“I feel like the environment I was in before was very restrictive. I wasn’t in my own identity, I was pretending. I wasn’t embracing my true self. I’m appreciative of the student body for being supportive of what I want to do. My friends push me to actually use my talent and not to hide it for just myself,” Dix said.

Studio Arts Junior Ri Kailah Mathieu, also known as Rickey, like Dix, draws inspiration in painting and drawing from students on campus.

“Going to Loyola provides a space for me to be my authentic self,” Mathieu said. “I never made the type of art I make now since going to Loyola. Loyola has helped me become better.”

The New Orleans native’s favorite piece she has created thus far is called “Belly of Rickey.” The oil painting was exhibited in the Clusterfunk Art Show in April 2022 put on by students in the Studio Arts department She said her art revolves around Black women and spirituality.

“It’s not something I plan out each time. My body just does what it tells me to do,” Mathieu said.

“It’s important to always make art. I feel personally without it, I’m purposeless. I have to make art in order to survive. It’s a way for me to feel connected to the world and people. I feel the best when people can see my work. I live for that small moment of the long process,” Mathieu said.

Like Mathieu, Electra Pelias feels a connection to the world as well.The psychology major with a minor in environmental science focuses on sustainability throughout her projects.

“Usually, I like to work with materials that are second hand or recycled so that’s super important to me. That has to do a lot with my minor. I think as artists we are always aware of environmental impacts of the art we make so I try to use materials that lessen the environmental strain,” Pelias said.

Pelias said throughout her life she has experimented with all types of mediums: painting, drawing, set design and even physical construction. During the height of the pandemic, Pelias honed in on sewing, specifically face masks.

“I noticed more and more people wanting masks as a way to protect themselves while staying fashionable, so today I decided to start this Instagram to hopefully encourage people to not only continue to wear masks but express themselves through it,” Pelias posted on her Instagram, @electramakes in June 2020.
Loyola’s community is no stranger to what Electra creates.
Pelias, who has hosted popups at Loyola, gives 10-20% of her earnings at popup events to local charities like United Friendship and the NO/AIDS Task Force.

Now, her account has evolved into a place where she sells earrings, necklaces and other jewelry. She also upcycles thrifted clothing and makes stickers.
“Honestly, I am all over the place,” Pelias said.