Giving back to SAIC is important to helping maintain SAIC’s ongoing position as one of the most influential art schools, something we can continue connecting with as alumni. This also means helping to ensure that SAIC is able to grow technologically and educationally in relation to its fine arts focused curriculum.
—Brenna Quinn (BFA 2011)
Challenge Perceptions. Impacting Communities.
Our graduates move on to do great things; more than 17,000 alumni impact the world and their communities through their work, scholarship, teaching, and service. As artists, designers, entrepreneurs, curators, writers, historians, filmmakers, musicians, educators, administrators, community leaders, activists, and preservationists, SAIC's alumni use their interdisciplinary education to challenge the status quo. They provide creative and innovative solutions that have a positive impact on every aspect of our lives.
Their accomplishments are many and diverse. Whether it is winning first prize at the Cannes Film Festival (Apichatpong Weersethakul, MFA 1988) or educating the country about how design can be used to create positive social change (Emily Pilloton, MFA 2005, Design Revolution), or helping people shed their painful pasts through art therapy (Eric Dean Spruth, BFA 1990, MA 1992, Ink Therapy), SAIC's alumni impact our cultural landscape in powerful ways every day.
|||FEEDING SOCIAL JUSTICE
Tara Lane is cultivating spaces and contemporary conversations around food.
Tara Lane (BFA 2004) left her position as Executive Pastry Chef at Chicago's Blackbird and Avec restaurants to work on social justice projects that involve food. She landed at Jane Addams Hull-House where the extraordinary history of the Resident's Dining Hall inspires her to educate people about the issues surrounding food production and social activism.
|EMPOWERMENT BY DESIGN
Emily Pilloton's Nonprofit Design Agency Activates Education and Community
Emily Pilloton (MFA 2005) exemplifies the possibilities of forging a career path that fulfills personal passions while empowering others to reach their own self-directed potential.
Pilloton is the founder and director of Project H Design (design initiatives for Humanity, Habitats, Health, and Happiness), a nonprofit design and architecture agency she created in 2008. She operates her organization around the central idea that design can activate both education and community and capitalizes on the motivated energy of residents in the communities she engages.
|PRINCE OF PRINTS
Master Printer Thomas Lucas Collaborates with Well-known Artists
For many "more-renowned" artists, Lucas is the man behind the curtain. Over the last 20 years, he's pulled prints for the likes of Kerry James Marshall, Willie Cole, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Bill Conger, Bernard Williams, Ray Noland, and Paul Andrew Wandless. He started pulling prints for artists when he was an undergraduate student at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. He says, "Initially I was all about getting the printing experience, but then it was more about the spirit of collaboration. Creating a new relationship is what it's all about for me."
|SCULPTOR OF SOUND
Ian Schneller's Sonic Arboretum Blooms at Chicago's MCA
Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was alive in December 2011 with the sounds of site-specific compositions flowing through gracefully fluted amplifiers made by SAIC alumnus Ian Schneller (MFA 1986) at his Specimen Products Workshop in Chicago. First shown at New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2010, Sonic Arboretum included two sold-out performances by Andrew Bird in addition to the exhibition, which ran from December 6–31 at the MCA. Schneller has carved out a remarkable career making instruments and amplifiers first for himself and then for friends and other musicians.
Read more about the show and a recent discussion with Schneller on his work, his collaboration with Andrew Bird, and how he marries utility with art in his work as a successful luthier, sculptor, and craftsman.
|COMMUNITY IN A CLASSROOM
Alumnus Mathias "Spider" Schergen Creates Long-term Connections with Students in Cabrini Green
Mathias "Spider" Schergen (BFAAE 1980) has become a fixture in the Cabrini Green community after spending 20 years teaching children art at Chicago Public Schools' Jenner Fine Arts Academy in the neighborhood. Early in his career Schergen created the name Spider (Mr. Spider to his students) in an inspired—and successful—attempt to connect with his students.
"I really feel it's important that a child be grounded in their experience of making art," Schergen says. "Children love learning how to do stuff. It's just a natural part of their empowerment as a child."
|CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY
Alumna Lisa Junkin Values Involvement of Nontraditional Publics at Hull-House Museum
Direct community engagement is what attracted Lisa Junkin (MAAE 2007) to her current position as the first full-time Education Coordinator at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. This role is ripe with opportunities to collect personal stories, rich residential memories, and community input. Junkin's work each day is enriched by institutional encouragement to rethink how museums can serve nontraditional publics.
|NETWORKING ACROSS DISCIPLINES
Alumna Katie Kurcz Connects Arts Organizations with Business Consultants
Alumna Katie Kurcz (MAAAP 2009) is helping to enrich the cultural landscape by strengthening nonprofit arts organizations in her role as Director of Programs at the Arts and Business Council of Chicago. She pairs nonprofit clients with volunteer business experts to help them "build a business organization to match the high quality of the art product."