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

Art Connects Us, Volume 11

At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), our community has responded to the current moment as true citizen artists.

Their work demonstrates a belief in our interconnectedness as people and our shared responsibility to make positive change. We know headlines may be overwhelming these days, so below you’ll find good news highlighting the incredible efforts of SAIC’s artists and designers to forge and deepen connections with our communities.

We hope it inspires you for the week ahead.

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Volume 7
Volume 8
Volume 9
Volume 10

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Calcott for The New York Times Style Magazine

Alum Sonya Clark Weaves the Fabric of America Together
For the past three decades, alum Sonya Clark (BFA 1993) has been steadily deconstructing, weaving, and reimagining flags—what they are and what they symbolize. The New York Times Style Magazine recently featured Clark's contributions to art, which address historical and contemporary racial violence. read more

Stills from People of the Pandemic series. Images courtesy of Helen Maurene Cooper

Alum Helen Maurene Cooper Documents the Pandemic with Wet Plate Collodion Portraits
A simple sidewalk chat with a neighbor inspired alum Helen Maurene Cooper (MFA 2007) to document her neighborhood through a series of socially distanced portraits. For these photos, she knew a smartphone or another digital method wouldn’t suffice, instead choosing to use the wet plate collodion (ambrotype) process, producing images that remind us of the historic significance of our current moment. read more

Images courtesy of Art Relief for Beirut

Alum Mohamad Kanaan Raises Over $100,000 for Beirut Relief Funds
In response to the explosions in Beirut, alum Mohamad Kanaan (MFA 2016) created an Instagram fundraiser, titled Art Relief For Beirut. Since its launch, the fund has raised over $100,000 for Impact Lebanon, the Lebanese Red Cross, and other organizations. “The road to rebuilding the city is going to be long, but using the power of art to do good in the face of such destruction is a humbling honor,” said Kanaan. read more

Nicole Marroquin, ABOLISH, 2020. Image courtesy of Nicole Marroquin.

Alums and Faculty Use Their Art to Push for Criminal Justice Reform
Cook County Jail has been a hotspot for COVID-19 infection and spread, and the rising cases are catalyzing local artists, who are seeing this moment as an opportunity to push for prison abolition and criminal justice reform. Associate Professor Nicole Marroquin is raising funds by selling prints that depict key moments in Chicago’s organizing history, and alum Naimah Thomas (MA 2016) is commemorating prisoners through portraiture. read more