Past Recipients

EAGER (Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research) was a seed grant program (2011 to 2017) for students working in research groups with faculty mentors. The grants support research in emerging art and design topics, and work to strengthen collaboration at SAIC. Student groups apply each spring semester to fund research for the following two semesters. Starting in the 2018-2019 academic year, EAGER grants have been replaced by Level Up! Grants, supporting continuing student work.

2016 Recipients

Phantom Limb El Coyote Cojo

Phantom Limb El Coyote Cojo

Adela Goldbard (MFA 2018)
Emilio Rojas (MFA 2017)

Phantom Limb is an artistic research-based project using the neurological notion of the phantom limb—a persistent image or memory of part of the body, usually a limb, for months or years after its loss. This acts a metaphor of the territory lost by Mexico during the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War. Phantom Limb will reflect on the glorification of nationalistic military narratives, US interventionism, and Chicano cultural reconquista and its consequences in the current binational contexts.



Cassandra Davis (MFA 2017)
Nuria Montiel (MFA 2017)
Christian Ortiz (MFA 2017)

The research of Art(x)ivers questions fiber traditions in Oaxaca, Mexico, and investigates ethical modes of cultural exchange by examining the tradition of textile artist Anni Albers. The Art(x)ivers are building relationships between the Museo Textil in Oaxaca and the Textile Resource Center (TRC) at SAIC. Along with participating in a winter fiber residency in Teotitlán del Valle, they will generate an archive of video interviews with local fiber artists within Oaxaca to share with other artists and researchers. A copy of the archive will donated to the TRC and another to the Museo Textil for individuals to benefit from the research.

Fabrication Data

Fabricating Data

Jenna Boyles (MFA 2018)
Dylan Fish (MFA 2018)

Through the context of cloth, Jenna Boyles and Dylan Fish question data collection, control, and consumption. How does data affect the way we interact with the world and how can it be deceiving? The initial phase of Fabricating Data involves workshops and hands-on research, including the expansion of the Textile Resource Center’s e-textiles collection. The second phase prototypes fabrics capable of either generating or representing data through the use of soft circuits and jacquard weaving. The prototypes will be used as part of phase three, an application to work toward scaled-up projects in the Netherlands through the TexteilLab.

Fertile Design

Fertile Design

Erin Delaney (BFA 2019)
Jessica Gorse (BFA 2018)
Soniya Khasgiwale (MDes 2017)

Fertile Design is a collection of objects designed to hold space through decay, and in their completion, reactivate, repurpose, and revitalize the space in which they were abandoned. Group research will explore sustainable design by developing a biodegradable polymer to act as compost. Partnering with agricultural and food industries in the Chicagoland area, Fertile Design will source waste runoffs to create a material that is load bearing and sanitary. This new material will be used to create biodegradable furniture embedded with the seeds of plants native to the Illinois prairie and used to host public dinners in participating arts spaces.

EAGER (Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research) is a seed grant program for students working in research groups with faculty mentors. The grants support research in emerging art and design topics, and work to strengthen collaboration at SAIC. Student groups apply each spring semester to fund research for the following two semesters.

Topographies of Defense

Michael Rado (MFA, Printmedia)
Frances Lightbound (MFA, Printmedia)
Louis Kishfy (MDDO, Designed Objects)
Shiben Banerji (Faculty Mentor, Art History, Theory and Criticism)

Topographies of Defense will examine design in the urban sphere that functions primarily to discourage, rather than facilitate, human usage. Objects such as homeless spikes and landscaping elements all contribute to a covertly defensive reconfiguration of public space. The project aims to catalogue defensive architecture within the city in an interactive online archive.

A Program for Plants

Joshi Radin (MFA, Photography)
Linda Tegg (MFA, Photography)
Brian M. John (MFA, Photography)
Giovanni Aloi (Faculty Mentor, Art History, Theory and Criticism)

A Program for Plants is an interdisciplinary research project, which will adopt a phytocentric perspective to assess and create video art. This research will explore the Video Data Bank archive and curate a presentation of its works. The research seeks a nuanced understanding of light and sound sensitivity in plants and develops methods for assessing video art through this lens. The research will culminate in a new multimedia work collaboratively produced by the three artists based on metric tools.

The Money Space

Kevin B. Lee (MA, VCS)
Nathan Braunfeld (MFA, Art & Technology)
Bartholomew Lewandowski (BFA, Art & Technology)
Lan Tuazon, (Faculty Mentor, Sculpture)

The Money Space reconsiders the ATM lobby as a portal revealing new relationships between people, money and physical space, characterized by dislocation and displacement. This group will create a short documentary from research and gather data accounting for the shifting presence of ATMs in the urban environment, as well as conduct fieldwork in ATM lobbies to investigate their unexpected usages.

You Heard Me?

Ryan Blocker (MA, Arts Administration)
Chelsea (Xinqi) Tao (MA, Arts Administration)
Olivia Junell (MA, Arts Administration & Art History)
Kate Dumbleton (Faculty Mentor, Arts Administration)

You Heard Me? wades into questions surrounding hip-hop's social and political potency with a specific focus on hip-hop's ability to form emergent communities which convene around larger social issues of racial equity, storytelling and social design. You Heard Me? uses events and dialogues on and offline to expand what community looks like locally and globally; explore the ways community is formed; and examine whether hip-hop possesses mechanisms for reconsidering identity and communicating across difference.


Haley Jung (BA in Visual and Critical Studies, Arts Administration)
Livia Xie (BFA in Painting, Printmedia, Arts Administration)
Nicholas Lowe, (Faculty Mentor, Arts Administration and Policy)

Art-as-Home strives to create a curatorial and educational model to reestablish one of Chicago's forgotten artistic legacies. Both an architectural relic and artistic masterwork, the R.W. Glasner Studio, as one of Edgar Miller's "Handmade Homes," is a domestic, living space that recalls and embodies the Arts and Crafts aesthetic of embedding art in everyday living. Through engaging this space, Art-as-Home will examine and address the role of sustainable art in contemporary, domestic life in an era of mass production.

Queering Mixed Reality Collective

Luis Mejico (BFA 2017)
Cairns Smith (BFA 2015)
Jake Vogds (BFA 2014)
Mark Jeffery, Assistant Professor of Performance
Judd Morrissey, Assistant Professor of Art and Technology Studies

The Queering Mixed Reality Collective will create a year-long discussion surrounding queer technology, augmented reality, digital identity, and queering mixed realities between the physical and virtual. Read more about the Queering Mixed Reality Collective.

Hair Club

Suzanne Gold (MFA 2015)
Kelly Lloyd (MFA 2014, MA 2015)
Michal Lynn Schumate (MA 2015)
Terry Kapsalis, Adjunct Professor of Visual and Critical Studies

Hair Club is an exploration of the multifaceted topic of Hair in across cultures. Uniting making, writing, and research, Hair Club will investigate hair myths, exploring the topic through events, discussion, and ongoing collaborations. The inherent paradox of hair—its dual role in our lives as mundane subject and meaning-soaked signifier—is what serves as the linchpin of this research. Read more about Hair Club.


Brannon Dorsey (BFA 2016)
Edin Cook (BFA 2015)
Noah Coleman (MFA 2015)
Drew Anderson (Cont. Studies)
Chris Baker, Assistant Professor of Art and Technology Studies

Kibio is an open-source media player and video mapping software toolkit currently under active development by students and faculty in the openLab at SAIC. The software allows students to explore ideas of mobility and outdoor/indoor multisurfaced 3D spaces when working with video projection and will be introduced into primary, secondary, and post-secondary educational environments. The Kibio toolkit was designed and prototyped as a part of a 2012 Shapiro Center EAGER grant awarded to Christopher Baker that focused on educational uses for the Raspberry Pi computing platform.

Geographies of Secrecy

Alison Reilly (MA 2015)
Matthew Coleman (MA 2015)
Michael Golec, Associate Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Alison Reilly and Matthew Coleman’s research focuses on the visual and lived treatments of the American West, digging into the belief that the emptiness and remoteness of the West is purely perception. Their work will combine site visits to nuclear power plants, military storage facilities, and data server farms with analysis of photographs, maps, and military records to reveal underlying geographies of secrecy.


Hayley Jenkins (MS 2015)
Keith Goad (MS 2015)
Michelle Alletto (MArch 2015)
Anne Sullivan, Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation

The HistRe team will research and develop a model to rehabilitate North Lawndale's historic building stock in order to provide affordable housing and skills training to its residents.

I Love Lucy (Lippard)

Kyle Riley (MA 2015)
George William Price (MA 2015)
David Ayala-Alfonso (MA 2015)
David Getsy, Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

I Love Lucy (Lippard) research examines post-1960s curatorial methods and exhibition histories. The project analyzes early curatorial attempts to embody the new art movements from conceptualism to the present and their impacts on the displacement of exhibitions.

Textile Technology Research Group

Isaac Facio (MFA 2016)
Sasha De Koninck (MFA 2015)
Melissa Leandro (MFA 2016)
Joyce Safe Lee (BFA 2014)
Victoria Kim (BFA 2015)
Christine Tarkowski, Associate Professor of Fiber and Material Studies

The Textile Technology Research Group will investigate outsourced industrial textile processes at the TextielLab in Tilburg, the Netherlands by developing large-scale prototypes based on woven and knitted structures at this unique facility, while at the same time building an open-source database that documents their work for the SAIC community to use.