A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

2019 Honorary Doctorates and Commencement Speaker

Dear SAIC Community,

It is my pleasure to announce that citizen artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles—whose lifelong practice working in municipal contexts as a “maintenance artist” challenges our notions of individual creation, labor’s invisibility, and the value of domestic work—will deliver the Commencement address to School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s 2019 graduating class on Monday, May 13, at the Wintrust Arena.

Ukeles will also be receiving an honorary doctorate alongside three other recipients, each an exceptional artist whom we honor for their extraordinary contributions to culture: Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey, known for his iconic images of young people and the histories of marginalized communities; filmmaker and installation artist Isaac Julien, who explores at the intersection of political theory, queer identity, and the Black, male body; and Chicago-based cartoonist Chris Ware (SAIC 1991–93), whose ingenious designs and moving narratives extend the aesthetic and conceptual promise of the comics medium.

These visionary leaders’ commitment to their craft, diverse modes of working, and artistic ambition make them an inspiration to our graduates. Like them, SAIC artists, designers, and scholars pursue the questions that expand our understanding, increase our compassion, and help make our shared society better.

I look forward to celebrating SAIC’s class of 2019 with our honored guests.


Elissa Tenny