Grace Lynne Haynes, a recent MFA graduate from Mason Gross School of the Arts, has made a big splash in the fashion world with her latest collaboration with Old Navy and designed own black history in 2023. Haynes’ graphic tee, explicitly designedMason Gross Graduate to Design Black History for Black History Month, has hit the racks at the global retailer and is quickly becoming a bestseller.
Haynes is the latest artist of color to join Old Navy’s Project We series, which celebrates diversity and encourages inclusiveness. Her unique T-shirt showcases her signature style, featuring a Black female figure outfitted in bold colors and surrounded by fanciful birds.
“The faces of the women are not specific,” Haynes said of her work. “I like birds because they represent freedom. Particularly for Black women, it’s important to find ways to be free in our everyday life.”
The opportunity for Haynes to work with Old Navy came through the 15 Percent Pledge, a nonprofit launched in 2020 that encourages retailers to reserve 15 percent of their shelf space for Black entrepreneurs. The 15 Percent Pledge played a major role in Haynes’ decision to partner with Old Navy, which donated $500,000 to the organization and expanded its Project We series.
“The 15 Percent Pledge was a huge part of me saying yes. “Even in our Zoom conversations, they were very sensitive to the topic and wanted to make sure it represented me as an artist and a Black woman.”
Haynes’ work has already made a big impact, being featured on the cover of The New Yorker and named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Art and Style.” Despite her early success, Haynes chose to pursue her MFA at Mason Gross School of the Arts, where she received valuable feedback from peers and professors and was able to refine her voice as an artist.
Assistant professor in Art and Design at Mason Gross, Heather Hart, praised Haynes’ MFA experience, saying, “She was really able to loosen up, understand the historical underpinnings of her work and be more self-aware, intentional and open.
With her Old Navy moment, Haynes has no plans of slowing down. Next up, she is moving to Brooklyn to explore new fashion collaborations and gallery opportunities. Haynes is hopeful that someday, one of her pieces will hang in the Zimmerli Art Museum, but for now, she is simply reveling in the impact she is making as an artist of color and for Black women and girls around the world.
“I hope it makes those wearing it feel empowered,” she said of her T-shirt. “And I would hope it would stimulate their imagination somewhat.”