Commencement: Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients
2016 Honorary Doctorates and Commencement Speakers
Tania Bruguera: Commencement Speaker
A leading performance artist, Tania Bruguera (MFA 2001) researches relationships between art and politics, specifically transformations of social affect into political effectiveness and institutional structures of collective memory, education, and politics, and some of her performances interrogate the Cuban Revolution's failed promises and evoke the realities masked by propaganda and mass-media interpretation. One of Foreign Policy magazine's "100 Leading Global Thinkers," and shortlisted for the #Index100 Freedom of Expression Award 2016, she won the 2015 Herb Alpert Award, served as a Yale World Fellow, and inaugurated the New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs' artist-in-residence program. Bruguera also helped create the first document on cultural freedom and rights with the United Nation's Human Rights Council. In 2010 she was the first recipient of the Roy R. Neuberger Exhibition Prize for emerging artists. After the Cuban government detained Bruguera and confiscated her passport as she attempted a public performance, she opened Havana's Hannah Arendt International Institute of Artivism. She lives and works in New York, New Haven, Connecticut, and Havana, Cuba.
Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson
Collectors and philanthropists Stefan Edis and Gael Neeson donated 44 iconic, contemporary works to the Art Institute of Chicago, making it the largest gift in the institution's 136-year history. The works—predominantly from the height of the Pop and Post-pop Art movement—are displayed together in the reopened galleries of contemporary art, The New Contemporary. The collection brings new depth and perspective to the museum's presentation of contemporary art and serves as a one-of-a-kind teaching resource for SAIC students and faculty. Edlis and Neeson's journey as art collectors began in the auction houses of the 1970s, when they were chosen together as one of ARTNews' "200 Top Collectors." The couple was also listed in Chicago magazine's "2016 Power 50 list" of most influential Chicagoans, as generous donors to both the Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Young-Ju Park was a member of SAIC's Board of Governors from 2005 to 2011 and currently serves as Governor Emeritus. In 2009 Park made Forbes' "48 Heroes of Philanthropy" list for his support of arts services for the elderly. He served as Chairman of Board of Directors of Seoul Arts Center, Chairman of Korean Business Council for the Arts, Chairman of Membership Society of National Museum of Contemporary Art, and International Council Member of Tate Gallery London. He has also served as Deputy Chairman of Federation of Korean Industries, Korean Council on Latin-America & the Caribbean, Board Member of Samsung Cultural Foundation, and currently serves as Honorary Consul General of Solomon Islands. A collector of prints, Park is President and Chairman of Eagon Industrial Co., Ltd., a global wood product manufacturer with international relationships and factories. The Korea Management Association named Park "CEO of the Year" in 2002. Park holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Seoul National University, Korea. He has been awarded a Silver Star Medal from the Solomon Islands government, Bernardo O'Higgins Medal from the Chilean government, Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award, and a Silver Medal Order of Cultural Merit Award from the Korean government.
The HAIRY WHO:
James Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, Karl Wirsum
Fifty years ago, in 1966, six SAIC graduates—James Falconer (BFA 1965), Art Green (BFA 1965), Gladys Nilsson (BFA 1962), Jim Nutt (BFA 1967), Suellen Rocca (BFA 1964), and Karl Wirsum (BFA 1962)—seized a rare opportunity and ran with it. With the vigorous support of Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) director Don Baum, the resulting exhibition, the Hairy Who, was a sensational departure from the typical sober-sided display: a comic for a catalog, brash, sharp-elbowed works full of the detritus of everyday life, artists jumping into the air rather than posing for the ages. They had been readied for this leap—and variously influenced—by many SAIC instructors, including Ray Yoshida, Kathleen Blackshear, Whitney Halstead, and Vera Berdich. They upped the ante, and their game, in two more (even Hairier) shows in 1967 and 1968 at the HPAC, followed in 1968 and 1969 by three shows outside of Chicago in San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC. Their extravagantly installed exhibitions, the artists' free-wheeling individual approaches, and their varied and compelling work have all had a wide-ranging and profound influence on several generations of their students and on many younger artists since then, including such well-known figures as Chris Ware (SAIC 1991–93), Sue Williams, Gary Panter, and Amy Sillman—as has been documented in the recent film Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists. They are still working more-or-less flat out in their respective studios and continue to show the results extensively.