Miranda Chao

PHOTOS BY MATTEO MOBILIO
STORY BY CAROLINE ORR

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Part of a lucky minority of Brown University sophomores, Miranda Chao lives in one of the coolest and strangest dorms on campus in Plantations House. Complete with lofted ceilings, dark wood paneling, and what looks oddly like a church pew, Miranda’s third floor room would be rather creepy if it weren’t for her fun decorations and generally calm presence.

Wrapped in a fuzzy chenille blanket and surrounded by goofy pillows shaped like cats, Miranda perched on her bed for our interview because as she explained, it’s where most of her artistic process takes place. From the sketching and drawing to the digital coloring and computer work that goes into each picture, Miranda does much of what most artists do in a studio in her dorm.

Miranda’s focus is to transport her audience into the mind and place of others or herself

It is therefore not shocking that her work, heavy in subject matter composed of harsh black lines that are brightened up with contrastingly whimsical elements and pastel pops of color, bears a strange likeness to her room, dark and gothic in structure warmed up with cartoonish decorations and lush fabrics.

Most likely just a matter of Miranda’s aesthetic influence on her space, it is fitting that this likeness occurs. While she lives in her space of creation she also hopes that those viewing her art have a similar experience, inhabiting the mental space of the character, person, and/or emotion Miranda crafted her work around.  

Her ability to master a point of view and craft an entire emotional world around it with simple pen and paper drawings and elegant digital finishing touches no doubt can be attributed to both her artistic talent and her scientific mind. For the Computer Science, Visual Arts double concentrator it seems only right that she has combined each aspect of her talents to “quite literally” place viewers “into different worlds” and “mental states.” And while Miranda’s focus is to transport her audience into the mind and place of others or herself, she also values the individual experience and connection with each piece. For her, if the viewer has a valid and meaningful connection with her piece “as long as that’s valuable to them that’s great to me.”