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School News: Alumni Round-Up; SAIC Alum Cathy Hannah

ALUMNI ROUND-UP by Caroline Ewing

knisleyLucy Knisley, a soon-to-be ’07 alum (and former comics editor for F Newsmagazine), did us proud by earning “The Diamond in the Rough” full-tuition scholarship to attend the selective Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, “America’s only two-year cartooning program.” (For all of you comic artist wanna-bes, check out If that wasn’t enough, Knisley was also named one of two finalists in the College Cartoonist category of Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Awards, previously won by former F News editor, Russell Gottwaldt, ’06.

We’ve heard through the grapevine that Sarah Vowell, ’96, was the worst student Jim Elkins ever had. Despite this fact, we have to admit that she’s doing pretty well for herself. Her wildly successful book, Assassination Vacation, made her famous in 2005. Recently, NPR’s “caustic commentator” came back to town as part of This American Life at the Chicago Theater with everybody’s best friend, Ira Glass.

The title of just one of ’06 alum Christian Rieben’s paintings, Ass Fixiated, makes us want to check out his work at Lloyd Dobler Gallery, in an exhibition entitled, (Un) restricted. Rieben’s work is on view at the gallery until April 6.

Barack who? He has a logo? Sol Sender, ’97, and his brand consultancy and design firm, Sender LLC, recently conceived of and designed Obama’s presidential-candidate logo, which looks a little like a patriotic Cheerio. In a good way.

Big ups to filmmaker and ’01 alum Yael Shulman. His recent film, Independence, was nominated as a finalist by Film Independent and IFC out of 500 films submitted for the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards Short Film Contest. It was then aired as a finalist on the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards! Check out Shulman’s film on YouTube.

Mike Andrews
, ’99, and Noah Singer were recently featured in the March issue of Chicago magazine for the success of their clothing design firm, Imperfect Articles, which proudly states on its website, “HANDMADE IN CHICAGO.” Imperfect Articles sells T-shirts designed by artists such as the now-defunct Royal Art Lodge and SAIC professor Andreas Fischer. Their project is something like a curated store, with limited edition clothing “conflating concepts of fine art, design and fashion.” Based in Humboldt Park, Imperfect has made an appearance at the NADA art fair in Miami, and their wares are now available at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. In addition to being an alum of SAIC, Andrews teaches in the Fiber and Material Studies department. Their website is also useful as a veritable who’s-who of recent alums who contribute to the project.




winter beard by cathy hannahSAIC GRAD STUDENT SELF-PUBLISHES COMIC BOOK by Karen Huang

Cathy Hannah, a graduate student in the Art History Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, recently earned a prestigious grant from the Xeric foundation. Founded by Peter Laird, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Planet Racers, the Xeric Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation that provides financial assistance to artists in publishing their own comics. The grant has enabled Hannah to self-publish her first comic book, Winter Beard, an autobiographical narrative about her relationship with her best friend—and secret crush—Mike.

Hannah graduated with a BFA in sequential animation from Savannah College of Art and Design, and then moved to Detroit to work toward a BA in Art History. During that time she received numerous rejections from newspapers and comic book publishers, prompting her to look for ways to self-publish her work. In July 2005, Hannah submitted a comic book to the Xeric Foundation. “I decided that I would draw a comic about Mike and I. I would use it to say all the things I wanted to say but couldn’t,” Cathy told F Newsmagazine. “I am painfully shy and had not had a good track record with guys…I still don’t. I thought that drawing him a comic would be a really cute way to reveal my feelings.” Hannah applied for the grant in July 2005 and found out she had received in October, soon after starting graduate school at SAIC. Although the foundation provided funds to publish Winter Beard, she was responsible for deciding where to print the book, creating a budget, and determining the book’s size, paper type, and binding, among other details.

winter beard by cathy hannahWinter Beard is comprised of vignettes that detail the daily, mundane activities of Cathy and Mike: they go to movies and concerts, watch television, get coffee, and have a mutual appreciation for a good farting session. Hannah’s drawing style is flat and linear, and her interest in quilts and Japanese art are evident in her abundant use of patterning. She wrote and drew her comic as events unfolded in her life, recording dialogue in her sketchbook. “I wanted it to be as close to representing what happened as it could. If I portrayed it like that, I thought the reader would be analyzing everything he said and did to see if he really liked me back, just like my friends and I did,” she explains. “I also decided that I would not censor myself at all. Every horrible, embarrassing, awful, and weird thing I said and did, I knew that my parents would one day read.”

The beauty of Winter Beard is its unvarnished truth. Cathy willingly shares with the reader all her private thoughts about Mike and her desperate desire to turn their platonic relationship romantic. She even includes conversations she has with her girlfriends in which they analyze Mike’s actions and try to decide if he is interested in Cathy also. Although Winter Beard didn’t facilitate the relationship that she had hoped, Cathy’s personal account and unabashed realism make it easy for virtually any reader to empathize with and relate to the neuroses and hope inherent to such uncertainty.

Copies of Winter Beard are available for purchase at Chicago Comics (3244 N. Clark Street) and Quimby’s (1854 W. North Avenue), or online at

images courtesy of Cathy Hannah.

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