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

Art Helps Unite, Repair, and Heal From Acts of Violence and Hate

October 29, 2018

Dear SAIC Community,

Last week, Dean Berger and I wrote to you about the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s unequivocal support for all members of our community. I had not thought I would be writing to you again so soon, but recent acts of hate and violence—including the anti-Semitic shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the racist shooting in Jeffersontown, Kentucky—compel me to reach out to you again. These irrational acts of violence and the persistence of hate have filled me with grief, as I know they have for you. But we must not despair.

As our hearts go out to the victims’ families, friends, and communities, let us use our talents to restore our hearts and reclaim hope. The expansive imagination, risk-taking, tolerance for ambiguity, constructive critique, capacity for forgiveness, and abundance of compassion we use to negotiate a better campus are anathema to violence and hate.

Moreover, these qualities that we value here on campus are precisely the tools we use to combat the coarsening discourse of the larger world. When in disagreement, debate with peaceable reason. Pursue questions with genuine curiosity and an openness to new knowledge. Revel in your neighbors’ self-expression. Embrace difference. As artists, designers, and scholars, we know that art has the power to unite, repair, and heal. Through our practices, we will make the world a better place.

And, please remember, if you are experiencing distress and wish to speak to someone, SAIC provides counseling services for all its students through the Wellness Center and faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program. SAIC is here for you.

With hope,

Elissa Tenny