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Graduate Spotlight

Jinqiu (Max) He, MFA Theatre: Scenic Design, 2020

Jinqiu (Max) He (MFA Scenic Design, 2020) has completed her studies in the Purdue University Department of Theatre. This talented student joined Purdue after receiving her BA in interior design with minors in architecture, and theatre design and technology from the University of Idaho, Moscow, ID. Max has pursued various interests while at Purdue, including photography, scenic model construction, and painting. Her creative, edgy spark and sense of humor will be missed in the department!

Max has been very busy in her three years. She designed the scenery for four mainstage productions: These Shining Lives, Bonnets: (How Ladies of Good Breeding Are Induced to Murder), The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; acted as properties master for She Kills Monsters, Next to Normal, The Beaux’ Stratagem, and The Mousetrap; and was the scenic artist on The Two Gentlemen of Verona, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, The Sins of Sor Juana, and the PMO Christmas Show. Associate professor of scenic design Rusty Jones described Max’s work on By the Way, Meet Vera Stark as the most innovative use of the Mallett Theatre, a flexible black box space in Pao Hall yet. Max has also worked for the Williamstown Theatre Festival and Shawnee Theatre. “Max He has unique talents as a scenic designer. Her work is always innovative, using cutting edge creative design techniques.” - Faculty mentor Rusty Jones

For her terminal project, These Shining Lives, Max abstracted central themes in the play to create a visually striking landscape for the powerful true story of women who worked in a watch factory in Ottawa, IL in the 1920s, and who became ill from their exposure to radium. Vertical strings lined the back of the stage, connecting dials of various sizes above and below. The set effectively conveyed both the strength of the women in solidarity, the poignancy of friendship in their lives cut short.

When it comes to her work, Max is known for being on top of things. Her creativity flows freely, and her sense of responsibility leads to her timely execution on projects. Her natural curiosity and openness to innovation has led Max to be involved in film projects on campus, to deepen her illustration and sketching skills, and to explore different artistic mediums such as watercolor and Procreate.

Max’s work is perpetually cool, yet always accessible – treat yourself by taking some time to explore her portfolio at Congratulations, Max!