President Elissa Tenny on the Future of Art and Design

A white woman with shoulder-length blonde hair and straight-across bangs, wearing a chic olive green structured blazer, crosses her arms and smiles into the camera

Seeing the future is hard work. Tomorrow can seem like a total mystery and, as the pandemic taught us, what’s to come might not be for the faint of heart. Fortunately, we have artists and designers.

At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), we know that the expertise of those who make and study art and design is about more than what something looks like. They also envision what can’t yet be seen. Artists and designers expand what’s possible. Their work is an act of foresight, shaping eventualities. 

In this issue of School of the Art Institute of Chicago magazine, we celebrate the ways that our faculty, students, and alums are shaping our future. We talk to forward-thinking alums and faculty about how their fields will be transformed over the next decade. In a spotlight on alum and multidisciplinary artist Wafaa Bilal (MFA 2003), we learn how technology can be used as a tool for empathy. We do a deep dive into the world of virtual and augmented reality, exploring how they blur the boundaries between audience members and an artist’s work. The magazine also showcases NFTs, invites you into one of Chicago’s most community-centered galleries, and discusses how climate change is being addressed in art

Every piece in the magazine offers a glimpse of what our future may hold, and this issue fills me with confidence for a better tomorrow. It demonstrates the indispensable imagination of SAIC artists, designers, and scholars and the limitless potential of their work to transform our shared society. I hope it awakens your sense of possibility, too.

Elissa Tenny