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School News

School News

by Caroline Ewing

above, print derived from multimedia artwork, Word Association Plants, 2006, by Seth Hunter. image courtesy of the artist

Mr. Jones (C.B.E.), let’s build a wall

In early March, a billboard-size, gleaming, white wall suddenly appeared in the foyer of SAIC’s Columbus Drive Building. Some praise its rectilinear charm, thankful that it conceals the view of the stairwell as well as the awkward dead space below. Others criticize it for interfering with the building’s original design and for the fact that it overshadows an alum’s artwork (the small window built into the stairwell, anyone?).  Trevor Martin, Director of Exhibitions and Events, says the idea for the wall came about from “conversations around what the public space is when you walk into the [Columbus] building.” The wall is just one part of a school-wide effort to “improve the look of front doors” around campus. What is in store for “the big, white wall”? One idea is for it to function as a space for “one part artwork, one part announcement board.” Faculty, student and alumni work would be shown, including video art, a concept that has already been implemented on the 11th floor of the Sharp Building.  Specifically, administrators are concerned about how the artwork shown in the Betty Rymer Gallery connects (or fails to connect) with the foyer and the students who pass through. For now, the jury is out, but most agree that the best outcome would be if students and faculty could manage to make the wall a viable (though small) exhibition site to avoid its future potential as a monolithic message board.
SAIC does Art Chicago

Seth Hunter ’07 will exhibit his work at Art Chicago this spring as a ploy to lure people to the MFA show. Hunter’s piece, Metadome, will be a multimedia installation that “will transition from the busy intersection of art and commerce to an immersive projection of the night sky.” Activated by the presence of viewers, Metadome’s stars will “slowly migrate into patterns on the dome ceiling” in the Merchandise Mart’s lobby.  Hunter hopes that his work will serve as an example of the kind of engaging and relevant artwork that Chicagoans and non-Chicagoans alike can experience at the MFA show, which opens on May 4 at G2, a week after Art Chicago closes.                                

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Or in this case, graduation? Renowned international artist Alfredo Jaar will be the keynote speaker. The Chilean artist’s work of the past 20 years is part social commentary, part LARGE-scale installation. He once built an exhibition space in Sweden and burned it down in front of the whole town. Even your Grandma Rose will “get” this international bad-ass. Ellen Lanyon, who received a BFA from SAIC in 1948, will also speak. A Midwestern surrealist who works primarily in print-media, drawing and painting, Lanyon is known for her tweaked depictions of, objects from, and references to Americana.

Massive Change artist at SAIC, again

The progressive, aggressive and impressive Bruce Mau will be in residence at SAIC next year, bringing his design firm to our very own 12th floor of the Sullivan Center. Mau was behind much of the Massive Change show at the MCA, and he hopes to bring to Chicago a much-needed multi-disciplinary approach to solving environmental, economic and sustainable urban problems, all in one fell swoop and all in one fell floor. We hear he’s hiring brilliant thinkers. “Take Action,” says his website. Maybe he’ll be impressed by our recycling program?              

Andy Warhol can save your life

Well, sort of. Judd Morrisey, of the Art & Technology department, recently received a grant for individual arts writers from the Andy Warhol Foundation and administered by the Creative Capital Foundation for his writing in Chicago-based journal The Last Performance, described as “new and alternative media.”  Why do writers always make the big bucks?

BFA and MFA Shows

The gargantuan BFA & MFA shows are on their way. The BFA exhibition will have its opening reception on March 31st from 7-10 p.m. at Gallery 2 and will continue until April 13. The MFA exhibition opens (also at G2) with a reception on Friday, May 4, from 7-10 p.m., and will be on view until May 18. For information on performance, film, video and audio presentations, check out If you want to look at art, and then buy it, the Spring Art Sale, now in its seventh year, will rear its head on April 20-21, in the MacLean Center Ballroom.  The sale will be open to the public on both days, from 11-7 on April 20, and 11-5 on April 21.

Liberal Arts does (Native) American History

As part of the Liberal Arts department’s recent search for a Professor of American History, one of the finalists for the position, Matt Jennings of the University of Illinois, spoke about how violence was used, changed, and adapted by Native Americans, English, and Spanish to gain power in early America.  Arguing for a shift in perspective to allow for the effects of colonial violence on the structures of Native American nation building, Jennings also claimed that Native American nation-building was a tactic used to reflect their colonial settings.

There are sports at SAIC, after all

Graduate student Matthew Dupont is organizing a Ping Pong tournament in his studio in the sculpture department, home of Dupont Sports, complete with a viewing area for spectators.  Dupont hopes to include Jerry Saltz as a mediator and judge for the final match, which he wants to record as a streaming webcast.  Ping Pong professionals, keep your eyes and ears open for future announcements.

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