Class Notes

A large, woven structure hangs on a white wall

Jacqueline Surdell. Pale Nightmares: The Brutal State (after Thomas Cole), 2020. Image courtesy of Jacqueline Surdell and Patricia Sweetow Gallery

Jacqueline Surdell. Pale Nightmares: The Brutal State (after Thomas Cole), 2020. Image courtesy of Jacqueline Surdell and Patricia Sweetow Gallery


Chenyu Lin (MFA 2020) participated in several recent exhibitions, including Post–COVID-19 Era at Independent and Image Art Space, Chongqing, China; Making a Way at the South Bend Museum of Art; and Until We Meet Again at Treat Gallery, New York.

Elk Paauw (MA 2020) is presenting his master’s thesis research, an interactive webcomic on the philosophy of time, at the International Comic Arts Forum.

Quentin Yang (MFA 2020) began a daily pandemic drawing series that connected artists through creativity and making.

a 3-D rectangularr illustration - one side is black with a yellow, window-like cutout; one side is blue with pink and green dots; the underside is a pale green and blue checkerboard; the background is dark grey

Quentin Yang (MFA 2020), a moment., 2020, colored pencils on paper, watercolor

Quentin Yang (MFA 2020), a moment., 2020, colored pencils on paper, watercolor


Marcel Alcalá (BFA 2012) was featured in LA Weekly’s “Meet an Artist Monday” series.

Selva Aparicio’s (BFA 2015) solo exhibition Hysteria was on display at the International Museum of Surgical Science.

David Ayala-Alfonso (MA 2015) was featured in the New York Times for his Cuarentena Baking project, a bakery formed at his apartment in Mexico City.

Sky Cubacub (BFA 2015), Perel (MFA 2011), and Assistant Professor, Adj. Riva Lehrer (SAIC 1993–95) were among the inaugural cohort of the Ford Foundation’s Disability Futures Fellows.

Viraag Desai (BFA 2009) presented a solo exhibition titled A Mechanical Eye through Art Exposure, which was written up in Art Affairs.

Biraaj Dodiya (BFA 2015) unveiled her debut solo exhibition Stone Is A Forehead at Experimenter Gallery in Kolkata, India, and was featured in Vogue India and the Mumbai Mirror.

Robyn Farrell (MA 2013) is the co-editor of the inaugural issue of the Art Institute of Chicago’s digital journal, Art Institute Review, with Delinda Collier, associate professor and SAIC’s interim dean of graduate studies.

A white woman with dark brown hair and bangs cut straight across her forehead, wearing a black blouse and round, tortoiseshell glasses, crosses her arms, leans against a white all, and smirks at the camera. In the unfocused background is a robot-like sculpture.

Robyn Farrell. Image courtesy of the artist

Robyn Farrell. Image courtesy of the artist

Alaiia Gujral (BFA 2016) created Future Galerie, a platform that raises money through art auctions and sweepstakes for racial justice organizations and spotlights the work of local artists. Since launching in June 2020, her initiative has raised funds for nonprofits like My Block, My Hood, My City; The Black Youth Project; and many others.

Rosemary Holliday Hall (MFA 2019) was featured in Third Coast Disrupted: Artists and Scientists on Climate at Glass Curtain Gallery and at Heaven Gallery in Surface Tension. She also created the online publication Viral Ecologies with E. Saffronia Downing (MFA 2020).

KT Hawbaker (MA 2017) published an essay in Artforum highlighting Cass Davis’s (BFA 2009, MFA 2017) exhibition Out of Time at Aspect/Ratio Gallery, which was curated by Pia Singh (MA 2017).

SAM Hintz (BFA 2018) wrote and illustrated The Most Monstrous Band, an interactive children’s book published by Indigo River and distributed by Simon and Schuster.

A cartoon like illustration of a hamster-like creature wearing a baseball cap and playing the drums. Title reads The Most Monstrous Band with musical symbols surrounding it.

SAM Hintz, cover of The Most Monstrous Band

SAM Hintz, cover of The Most Monstrous Band

Annie Kielman (MFA 2013) co-directed Decide. Commit. Thrive., which was featured in the 2020 Chicago Underground Film Festival. Her work was also highlighted in the exhibition These Spaces Hold Us at Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions (ACRE).

Jae Hyun Kim (BFA 2018) is the creative director of Plus Magazine, a biannual publication that explores creativity with emerging and established artists.

Rosabel Rosalind Kurth-Sofer (BFA 2017) received a Fulbright Austria Combined Grant, where she conducted research at the Jewish Museum Vienna in their Schlaff Collection of anti-Semitic objects and postcards. Her research resulted in solo exhibitions at Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier and Improper Walls gallery.

Rodrigo Lara (MFA 2013) released editions of Test-Ephemeral Memorials through Test Site Projects, which was founded by Erik Beehn (BFA 2005, MFA 2015).

Sterling Lawrence (BFA 2007, MFA 2011) is featured in A Space Problem at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

Renluka Maharaj (MFA 2017) had a solo exhibition titled Pelting Mangoes at FLXST Contemporary.

Michelle Miller (BFA 2015) was Facebook’s artist-in-residence in 2019.

Nuria Montiel (MFA 2017) exhibited at XIV Bienal FEMSA.

Solomon Salim Moore (MFA 2018) was announced as the new assistant curator of collections at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College.

Al-Qawi Nanavati (BFA 2017) was featured in two group shows in India: When is Empathy too much? at Gallery Latitude 28 in New Delhi and All is Not Lost 20:20:20 at Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai.

Elise Parisian (MFA 2019) is hosting season four of her podcast, Unspookable, a family-friendly look at scary stories, myths, and urban legends.

Yangbin Park (BFA 2011) was a contributing artist to The Hand, issue 30. The Hand magazine is a quarterly publication for artists working in photography, digital, and print media.

A 4x4 grid of colorful, abstract paintings based in primary colors

Yangbin Park, Wave, serigraphs on paper, 22” x 22”,

Yangbin Park, Wave, serigraphs on paper, 22” x 22”,

Cynthia Pelayo (MFA 2010) wrote Children of Chicago, a horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale set in modern-day Chicago and published by Agora Press.

Anna Russett (BFA 2014) accepted a position at YouTube’s headquarters as a product specialist, working within the community space to advocate for YouTube creators and help make products that enhance their experiences online.

Ji Yeon “Hanna” Ryu (BFA 2019) was accepted to the art education graduate program at Seoul National University, which accepts only two applicants annually.

Caitlin Seidler (MA 2010) was named the East Region Art Educator of the Year by the Tennessee Art Education Association.

Nicole Seisler (MFA 2011) published Recipes for Conceptual Clay (in the Time of COVID-19) with illustrations by Georgie Flood (BFA 2008).

Ayesha Singh (MFA 2018) was featured in All is Not Lost 20:20:20 at Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai, India, and took part in the New Delhi edition of the international project Four Flags, presented by Nature Morte gallery.

Conor Stechschulte’s (MFA 2017) graphic novel Generous Bosom was named one of the best comics of the decade by The Comics Beat. A film adaptation, titled Ultrasound, will be appearing at film festivals this year.

Jacqueline Surdell (MFA 2017) was featured in This is America / Art USA Today at Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, along with fellow alums Dread Scott (BFA 1989) and Jeffrey Gibson (BFA 1995).

A large woven structure hangs on a white wall

Jacqueline Surdell. Pale Nightmares: The Brutal State (after Thomas Cole), 2020. Image courtesy of Jacqueline Surdell and Patricia Sweetow Gallery

Jacqueline Surdell. Pale Nightmares: The Brutal State (after Thomas Cole), 2020. Image courtesy of Jacqueline Surdell and Patricia Sweetow Gallery

Emilio Williams’s (MFA 2019) nonfiction work was accepted for publication in a forthcoming issue of Hinterland magazine.


Sarabeth Berk (BA 2004) published her first book titled More Than My Title: The Power of Hybrid Professionals in a Workforce of Experts and Generalists.

Wafaa Bilal (MFA 2003), Jules Rosskam (MFA 2008), and Martine Syms (BFA 2007) were recipients of 2021 Creative Capital Awards.

Elijah Burgher (MFA 2004) had a solo exhibition at Western Exhibitions titled Until the beasts and all the mountain are wild with divinity.

Alex Chitty (MFA 2008) was featured in Becoming the Breeze: Alex Chitty with Alexander Calder at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and State of the Art 2020 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Rowynn Dumont (BFA 2007) joined the New York–based art collective SOLAS, was featured in an interview with SOVO// Magazine, and is currently curating Method of Control Part I, a series of online exhibitions on

Eric Garcia (MFA 2009) was named a 2020 McKnight Foundation Fellow and was featured in multiple exhibitions including the Smithsonian’s ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now and We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz at the Jewish Museum.

Cortney Lederer (MA 2009) curated Olafur Eliasson’s installation Atmospheric wave wall on the Jackson Boulevard exterior wall of Chicago’s Willis Tower.

A huge, wavelike blue, green, and orange abstract painting stands on a Chicago street with skyscrapers in the background. A few people walk on the street in front, completely dwarfed by the painting

Olafur Eliasson, Atmospheric wave wall, Willis Tower Chicago. Curated by Cortney Lederer, CNL Projects. Photo by Tom Harris

Olafur Eliasson, Atmospheric wave wall, Willis Tower Chicago. Curated by Cortney Lederer, CNL Projects. Photo by Tom Harris

Rosemary Lee (BFA 2008) defended her doctoral thesis “Machine Learning and Notions of the Image” at IT University of Copenhagen.

Jeff Musser (BFA 2000) was featured in two exhibitions: From Chaos to Order: Making Our Way in the New World of COVID-19 at The Delaware Contemporary and Breathing While Black at the Augusta Savage Gallery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Angel Otero’s (BFA 2007, MFA 2009) solo exhibition The Fortune of Having Been There is on view at Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York.

Emily Pilloton (MA 2005) was interviewed in Forbes about her nonprofit Girls Garage.

Jyotika Purwar’s (MDes 2004) residential architecture and renovation work was featured in Beautiful Homes.

Photo of a dinging room table and two chairs in a large, open room in front of a large window with a cylindrical light fixture hanging above

Jyotika Purwar’s residential architecture and renovation work. Photo by Fabien Charuau

Jyotika Purwar’s residential architecture and renovation work. Photo by Fabien Charuau

Jean-René Rinvil (MFA 2002) produced and directed Twoub Mantal (Healing A Nation). The film won the Best Documentary award at the Ciudad International Film Festival in Mexico, the Bergen International Film Festival in New Jersey, and the Black Star International Film Festival in Ghana. It was named an Official Selection at the Mental Filmness festival in Chicago and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, among others.

Martine Syms’s (BFA 2007) new book, Shame Space, was featured in Hyperallergic.

Daniel Tucker (BFA 2005) was the curator-in-residence for Mural Arts Philadelphia to develop Power Map: Historic Mural Activations and served as guest editor of A Blade of Grass, issue 5: “Confronting Enemies.” Tucker also created programming and screened his video essays Future Perfect (2015) and Local Control (2018) at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester.


Nina Beaty (MA 1993) developed the EmPat Project, a collection of emojis addressing elements of life within the medical world, including icons representing cancer treatment, COVID-19, hospital life, and unsung hospital heroes. After creating the EmPat Project, Nina reconnected and partnered with her best friend from SAIC, Gail Orenstein (MA 1993), to expand the project and propel it into the world via social media.

Jen Bervin (BFA 1996) had a solo survey exhibition titled Jen Bervin: Shift Rotate Reflect, Selected Works (1997–2020) at University Galleries of Illinois State University.

Keri Butler (MA 1998) was appointed acting executive director of New York City’s Public Design Commission, the city’s design review agency.

Sean Capone (MFA 1994) was awarded the 2020 NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship in Digital/Electronic Arts.

Sonya Clark’s (BFA 1993) first survey of her 25-year career, Tatter, Bristle, and Mend, features nearly 100 works that address race, visibility, and Blackness at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Shannon Forrester (BFA 1992) recently published an article titled “Painting from the Other Side: Tracing the Reparative Turn in Contemporary Practice” for Art/Research International.

Dr. Nettrice Gaskins (MFA 1994) was interviewed in an episode of A Correction: A Podcast, discussing art, artificial intelligence, and her work, which explores techno-vernacular creativity and Afrofuturism.

Jeffrey Gibson’s (BFA 1995) solo exhibition It Can Be Said of Them was on view at Roberts Projects in Los Angeles, which is co-owned by Julie Roberts (BFA 1990).

Jacob Hashimoto (BFA 1996) launched his solo exhibition titled Progress at Galerie Forsblom in Helsinki, Finland.

Suzanne Horowitz (BFA 1995) was featured in the Chicago Sculpture International–presented member exhibition Moving Forward in a Time of Change: Our New Relationship to the World We Live In at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art.

Myungah Hyon (BFA 1996, MFA 1998) authored a new work entitled Kaleido_Book, published by Candor Arts. Hyon also has an upcoming residency at Buinho’s FabLab and Creative Residency in Alentejo, Portugal.

Gosia Koscielak (MFA 1994) was featured in Constructive Reductive, a group exhibition at POP Gallery, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, and in COVIMETRY at BWA Gallery, Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski, Poland.

A 3D virtual reality print. Various yellow, red, blue, white, and black shapes and lines create abstract patterns and optical illusions

Gosia Koscielak(c), Virtual Unism 2020, VR artwork and digital prints on paper, 2005–20,

Gosia Koscielak(c), Virtual Unism 2020, VR artwork and digital prints on paper, 2005–20,

Christine Laning-Navarre (BFA 1998) is creating Barn Quilt Trail, in which eight-foot square paintings are reimagined as quilt patterns and hung on barns and pole buildings in Will County, Illinois.

Athena LaTocha (BFA 1992) was featured in Land Akin at Smack Mellon Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

Christine Mroz-Fries’s (BFA 1991) work is featured in Warner Brothers Entertainment’s final season of the television show Lucifer on Netflix.


Maria Martinez-Cañas (MFA 1984) was awarded the 2020 Michael Richards Award by Oolite Arts, celebrating artists that form the backbone of Miami’s visual arts community.

Four abstract circular illustrations connected by lines against a gray background

Maria Martinez-Cañas (MFA 1984), Estructuras Transportivas_Untitled (for Julie Saul)

Maria Martinez-Cañas (MFA 1984), Estructuras Transportivas_Untitled (for Julie Saul)

The New York Times included a piece by Dread Scott (1989) on their list of the 25 most influential works of American protest art since World War II.


John Banasiak (BFA 1972, MFA 1975) received the South Dakota Governor’s Award for Outstanding Service in Arts Education. He is currently a professor of photography at the University of South Dakota’s College of Fine Art and is in his 41st year there, teaching all levels of photography in the art department.

Louise Grissinger (BFA 1978) is a teaching artist at John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University in Illinois.

Rosalinda Kolb (MFA 1976) has participated in a series of projects commemorating the life of late saxophonist Frank Morgan, including the documentary Sound of Redemption, The Frank Morgan Story; the e-book Leave ’Em Hungry, A Love Story and Cautionary Tale; and the archival release Montreal Memories.

Jason Tannen (MFA 1975) has recently exhibited work in Sacramento; Las Vegas; New York; San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; Rome, Italy; and Budapest, Hungary.


The New York Times included pieces by SAIC community members Elizabeth Catlett (SAIC 1941) and Leon Golub (BFA 1949, MFA 1950) on their list of the 25 most influential works of American protest art since World War II.

We make a substantial effort to include as many SAIC alum accomplishments in “Class Notes” as possible. Due to the enormous talent and wide reach of the SAIC community, there may be alum updates that were not included. Please click here if you would like to submit your updates, news, and accomplishments for consideration to be included in “Class Notes” in the next issue of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago magazine. Please note, SAIC reserves the right to edit submissions.

In Memoriam

Roberta D. Eckdall Berg (CERT 1964)
Roberta D. Eckdall Berg was a graphic arts instructor at Salina Area Technical College and taught graphic arts at Emporia State University in Kansas. She was recognized as a nominee for Teacher of the Year by her peers in the vocational education association. She was active in the art community of Salina, Kansas, as a member of the Bluestem Art Gallery.

Harry Breen (BA 1953)
Harry Breen was a practicing painter and ceramic artist who taught at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois for 26 years. Breen was instrumental in starting the popular Saturday Morning Art School offered through the university for the community. Breen’s artwork extended to interior renovations of cathedrals and churches, which included murals, sculptures, and furniture.

Teresa Burga (MFA 1970, HON 2018) 
Teresa Burga was an internationally acclaimed artist and founding member of Grupo Arte Nuevo, a Peruvian avant-garde movement that was active between 1966 and 1968. Rooted in pop art, Burga’s work focused on the female body and the role of women in Peruvian society. Burga attended SAIC as a Fulbright Fellow, during which time she honed her practice, allowing her work to become more conceptual. After graduating from SAIC, she returned to Peru where her work negotiated the complex political reality of the country at the time. Burga’s multimedia work included conceptual paintings, extensive drawing series, large-scale environments, technical media, and installation.

Terrell Davis (BFA 2020)
Terrell Davis was an exceptionally creative force with an engaged, interdisciplinary practice as an artist, entrepreneur, and gallery founder. Davis established his own artist’s brand, co-ran a gallery, produced designs and illustrations for clothing, publications, and events, and collaborated with musicians, activists, and artist peers. Davis was also very active on campus while studying at SAIC; he was a resident advisor and a leader of the student group BLK@SAIC. Those who knew Davis remember him as a hardworking artist dedicated to social justice and a hilarious and loving friend.

Lana Davis Fields (BA 1967)
Lana Davis Fields was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1944. After graduating from SAIC in 1967, Fields worked as a project manager and head of interior design at a number of large commercial architectural firms in Chicago. Later in life, she became a real estate agent.

Ellen J. Friend (SAIC 1978–80)
Ellen Friend was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1931. After attending SAIC, she became one of Chicago’s first female mechanical draftspersons. She was an artist, artisan, jewelry maker, and a respected amateur cook who studied with Jacques Pépin.

James (Jim) O’Hara (BFA 1967, MFA 1969)
Jim O’Hara’s early career consisted of working as the lead preparer for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. His first work involved the 1970 production and installation of artist Wolf Vostelle's unique Concrete Traffic. O’Hara was a consummate and well-respected artist whose works took many forms throughout his life.

Jacqueline (Jackie) Saccoccio (MFA 1988)
“Jackie Saccoccio was a painter known for explosive yet delicately structured, almost atmospheric abstract paintings that exploited paint’s fluidity in the tradition of Jackson Pollock, Paul Jenkins, and Helen Frankenthaler. Inspired equally by the Abstract Expressionists and the Italian Baroque, Ms. Saccoccio specialized in large canvases on which expansive waves and splashes of bright, luminous color seemed to swirl and clash amid networks of dripped lines running in several directions.”
Courtesy of a New York Times tribute authored by Roberta Smith (HON 2017).

Henry Shimabukuro (BA 1964, MFA 1970)
Henry Shimabukuro was a graphic designer for companies including Uniroyal, Montgomery Ward, and Moonink Communications. His body of work in his art career included abstract paintings, naturalistic landscapes, carpet designs, and experimental works, and his art was featured in several local group exhibitions. After more than 20 years as a commercial artist, he joined the Durso School in Chicago where he helped rehabilitate children through art therapy.

Maria Tritico (MA 2015)
Maria Tritico was an alum of SAIC’s Art Therapy and Counseling department whose art therapy practice focused on veterans suffering with post-tramautic stress disorder, elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and girls and women seeking to escape sex trafficking. Tritico was a vivacious and talented artist with an active art practice in metalsmithing and jewelry. After graduating from SAIC, she became the director of education at the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta, Florida. Tritico was a bright light and had a huge impact on the art therapy community.