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MCG Creativity Continues at Harvard University

Cynthia Gu’s Recycled Tinkerbell Dress

Cynthia Gu’s Recycled Tinkerbell Dress, 2014. Photograph by Richena
Brockinson.

On the surface MCG Youth & Arts (MCG), an affiliate of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, gives Pittsburgh students the rare opportunity to explore their artistic side. However, it also gives students the confidence and skills to succeed in school and reach new heights. Harvard University junior Cynthia Gu is the epitome of that success.

Stepping into the design studio classroom at (MCG) was an influential moment for Cynthia Gu. A Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice student at the time, Cynthia would spend the next four years of her high school career designing and constructing dresses out of reclaimed materials every day at MCG. The components of Cynthia’s designs ranged from ordinary garbage bags to recycled homework assignment papers. Cynthia loved the idea of upcycling—taking what most would consider trash and transforming it into something beautiful and wearable. The MCG teaching artists worked with Cynthia on her sewing and design skills as she created more stunning dresses. Cynthia’s time at MCG culminated in a fashion show at The Andy Warhol Museum showcasing her unique dresses constructed out of upcycled materials.

Cynthia had already built a lengthy portfolio showcasing her designs from MCG when the time came to think about colleges. Working with MCG’s teaching artists, Cynthia submitted applications to several prestigious universities. She chose to write her entrance essays on a topic close to her heart: her time spent at MCG and its impact on her education.

“I believe the process of making art is such an undervalued skill and activity,” wrote Cynthia in her applications. “It helped me to develop skills that are not reflected in the regular school curriculum.”

Cynthia Gu

Cynthia Gu modeling her Recycled Tinkerbell Dress. Photograph by Richena Brockinson.

Cynthia’s essay clearly made an impact. She is currently a junior at Harvard where she is studying applied mathematics. Even with a heavy course load, Cynthia remains dedicated to incorporating her art into her busy schedule. She has been featured in several fashion shows at Harvard and MIT and has already completed several courses in the visual arts department of her university. There is even a ceramics studio right inside of Cynthia’s dormitory where she is able to continue her passion of creating things from recycled materials.

When asked about what she learned in her time at MCG that she carries with her today, Cynthia has a simple reply: “I learned to not be afraid of leaving my comfort zone. To this day, I have used artistic skills from MCG to form innovative solutions to problems in school and in life.”

See more of Cynthia’s work at cynthia-gu.com.