Three Notable Artists To Receive Honorary Doctorate From the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Three Notable Artists To Receive Honorary Doctorate From the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Three Notable Artists To Receive Honorary Doctorate
From the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

May 19, 2023

CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, will welcome artist Sonya Clark to deliver the School’s Commencement address at Wintrust Arena on Sunday, May 21. Clark will receive an honorary doctorate alongside two other celebrated artists and designers: poet Nate Marshall and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley.

Sonya Clark is a fiber artist and the Winifred L. Arms Professor of Art and Humanities at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Previously, she was a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University where she served as chair for the Craft/Material Studies Department for over a decade. She earned an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and was honored with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011. Her first college degree is from Amherst College where she also received an honorary doctorate in 2015. In 2021, she was awarded additional honorary doctorates: one from Franklin and Marshall College and the other from Maine College of Art. Her work has been exhibited in over 500 museums and galleries in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Nate Marshall is a writer, editor, and educator from the South Side of Chicago. He is the award-winning author of two full-length books of poems, Finna and Wild Hundreds. He is an editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. He is also co-author (with Eve L. Ewing) of the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Marshall is an assistant professor in the creative writing program at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work has been published in Chicago Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere.

 Cynthia Rowley began her career in fashion while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago (where she had every intention of becoming a painter). After graduation, she took what little seed money she had and moved to NYC to start her eponymous fashion brand. Whether she’s exploring on a far-flung getaway, surfing secret spots in exotic destinations, or scuba-diving in an arctic glacier, it’s safe to say the designer is known to take risks. It’s this unparalleled sense of adventure that effortlessly translates into the spirit of the brand through a playful assortment of pretty dresses, beachy separates, and swim/surf. Cynthia Rowley has gone on to win numerous accolades including a CFDA Award and Designer of the Year at the American Image Awards. She is also a best-selling author and has appeared on numerous television shows.

This year’s commencement ceremony also includes the first cohort of students who have successfully completed the School’s First-Generation Fellows Program, which was launched by Dr. Tenny, who will retire at the end of the 2024 academic year.

The program provides a holistic engagement experience for incoming, first-generation students who are the first in their family to attend and graduate from college. The Fellows program helps students by providing them with structured support from a faculty mentor, on-campus employment, engagement opportunities with their peers and regular workshops focused on accessing resources and achieving academic success.

The School’s commencement ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 21, at the Wintrust Arena, located at 200 East Cermak Road. The ceremony will begin at 2:00 p.m. and doors for guests and graduating students will open at 12:30 p.m. All students must arrive by 1:15 p.m. to participate in the ceremony. The ceremony will end at approximately 4:30 p.m.

 Media contact:

Emerald-Jane Hunter

About School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers​, and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program ranked number two in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries​, and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate​, and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.