Commencement: Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients
Celebrated artist, innovator, and community activator Theaster Gates will deliver the Commencement address to the Class of 2014 at this year's Commencement ceremony. Along with artist and lifelong friend of SAIC Ellen Sandor and renowned art critic and architectural writer Franz Schulze, Gates will receive an Honorary Doctorate from SAIC to recognize his achievement in the arts and unwavering commitment to the city of Chicago.
Theaster Gates is internationally known for his work on the South Side of Chicago, including Dorchester Projects, Black Cinema House, and the upcoming Stony Island Arts Bank and Dorchester Artists Housing Collaborative. Founder of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation and the Arts Incubator in Washington Park—a vision he developed as Director of Arts + Public Life at the University of Chicago—Gates's work responds to the challenges of space and the complexities of cities. His work has received awards from the Urban Land Institute, Chicago Community Trust, Creative Time, Creative Capital, and many others. Outside of his formidable presence in Chicago, he has exhibited and performed at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Punta della Dogana, Venice; and Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany; among others.
Artist Ellen Sandor (SAIC MFA 1975) is a member of SAIC's Board of Governors, a Life Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Chair of SAIC's Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board where, in 2013, she was honored for Outstanding Leadership. She also maintains an active, Chicago-based studio practice and has exhibited work at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Maya Polsky Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; among others. She recently received the Thomas R. Leavens Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts through Lawyers for the Creative Arts. She has just completed a collaboration between her team and the University of Chicago Institute for Molecular Engineering on a nano particle, PHSCologram. Sandor is presently co-editing the forthcoming Women in New Media Arts: A Survey of Innovative Collaboration for the University of Illinois Press that chronicles the oral history of pioneering new media women artists.
After earning his Bachelor of Philosophy from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts from SAIC in 1949 and 1950, Franz Schulze was awarded the Konrad Adenauer Fellowship, which enabled him to study in Munich until 1957. Schulze is an artist, working on canvas and with charcoal, and has done many portraits, including some of significant Chicago architects. A show of his drawings took place in 2011 at the Printworks Gallery in Chicago. Schulze's career as a writer began with his monthly Chicago report for ARTnews in 1958. He later became art critic for The Chicago Daily News in 1961, transferring to the same post in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1978. His writing has appeared meanwhile in ARTnews and as corresponding editor of Art in America. In the latter journal his articles on art and architecture continue to appear on a regular basis. His books include Mies van der Rohe, a Critical Biography (University of Chicago Press, 1985); Philip Johnson, Life and Work (Alfred A. Knopf. 1994); and Chicago's Famous Buildings, with co-author Kevin Harrington (University of Chicago Press, 2005). In addition to his work as an artist and writer, Schulze was a full-time faculty member at Lake Forest College from 1952–91.