When NYU senior and Media, Culture, and Communication major Chloe Xiang learned about the role of Black women suffragists in a media studies class, she created a website about the often overlooked advocates who pushed for women’s right to vote as part of her required coursework. Then, she adapted that material into a piece for Keke, the online and print magazine she launched in high school to amplify the voices of women and girls. (“Keke” is derived from the Chinese character for “can.” The magazine tells readers “you can achieve anything.”) Keke focuses on inclusivity and representation. The first issue featured a spread titled “All About Intersectional Feminism,” so Chloe jumped at the chance to revisit, as she wrote, the “exclusive and white-washed” history of women’s suffrage.
Engineered for Expression
Chloe enrolled in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and chose the Media, Culture, and Communication major specifically to pursue her passion for writing and the visual arts. During her first and second year at NYU, in addition to running Keke, the New Jersey native interned with a fashion stylist, worked as a photographer and designer for the model and former NYU student Karlie Kloss (whose coding camp Chloe attended as a student and teacher’s assistant), and oversaw her fashion blog called The Mega Babe, which she launched in middle school. “I was always drawn to expression in whatever capacity that may be,” says Chloe, who has written for Teen Vogue, among other outlets. “To take something ordinary and make it memorable.”
Broadening Her Horizons
At NYU, Chloe minors in the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology, a joint program offered through Steinhardt, the Stern School of Business, and the Tisch School of the Arts. In her first semester, as a Steinhardt Dean’s Global Honors student, Chloe took an art theory and practice course with Clinical Assistant Professor of Printmaking Noel W. Anderson. In the class students examined how art intersects with race. For example, they compared how Frederick Douglass represented himself in his own work to how white people often misrepresented the abolitionist and writer in their work about him.
The course also included a weeklong trip to Paris. There, Chloe and her classmates collaborated with students from a local art school. Chloe’s group created a mixed-media project called Identity Crisis in which they wrote and drew on Instagram photos of Kylie Jenner to deconstruct beauty standards. “We were making a statement about individuality and how Instagram expects women to look a certain way. Specifically, how only a certain type of woman gains attention,” she explains. Chloe calls the experience “really incredible.” She adds, “I’d never collaborated with anyone, much less international students.”
Committed to a Creative Future
During the COVID-19 pandemic, much of what Chloe loves about New York City and the NYU campus was shuttered. Last spring, she took one class in person and attended the rest remotely. But she still managed to stay connected. For example, she worked as a public health ambassador, distributing hand sanitizer and making sure people were wearing their face masks. “It helped me feel connected,” she says. “It inspired me.” Much of what she sees in the world inspires Chloe. Passing on that inspiration is her goal.