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

From the President

President Elissa Tenny photo

This past summer, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) did something unprecedented in its 152–year history. We successfully completed our first-ever School–only fundraising campaign. Beautiful/Work: The Campaign for SAIC began four years ago, raising funds for student scholarships and faculty support. We ended the campaign having raised $55 million, 10 percent over goal, helping ensure that SAIC continues to be a home for the artists, designers, and scholars who are influential in shaping our shared society. This issue of School of the Art Institute of Chicago magazine celebrates the success of the campaign and underscores the importance of the work we do.

Artists and designers are essential because they explore our world, question it, reframe our understanding, and build new approaches to some of our greatest challenges. SAIC has long been at the center of educating those who make and interpret our culture, and this issue’s feature article includes reflections on Beautiful/Work from 55 SAIC students, faculty, staff, alums, friends, and supporters who believe in the School and its mission. I am honored to have my own thoughts included among them, and I hope you find the conviction in these voices as thrilling, fulfilling, and inspiring as I do. But if you need more convincing, this magazine also features plenty more reasons why SAIC is so remarkable.

For example, another recent first for SAIC is our commissionership, with our partner the University of Chicago, of the US Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. The prescient and urgent investigation we presented there, Dimensions of Citizenship, explores how artists and designers envision what it means to be a citizen today. The photo essay in this issue captures the exhibition, which was shaped by a team of curators, exhibitors, and administrators, including many members of the School community, such as Assistant Professor Ann Lui, one of the curators, and Lecturer Iker Gil, the associate curator, as well as exhibitors Jeanne Gang (HON 2013), Associate Professor Andres L. Hernandez (MA 2004), and the 2018–19 Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor Amanda Williams.

Closer to home, an article on the College Arts Access Program, or CAAP, is just one example of how our recent campaign is supporting emerging artists and designers as they just begin to understand the potential of their talent. This three-year bridge program helps prepare Chicago Public Schools secondary students for further study at SAIC or another college.

These and the other stories included in this issue highlight the important role SAIC plays in fostering the work of artists, designers, and scholars and the important role so many of you have played in enabling the School’s work to continue. The Donor Honor Roll, recognizing the more than 2,100 contributors to Beautiful/Work, is a testament to a widespread belief in the power artists, designers, and scholars have in making our world a better place and the essential contribution SAIC has had, and will continue to have, in educating them.

Follow President Tenny on Instagram at @saicpres.