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

Recounting Our Year as Illinois Enters Phase Five

Dear SAIC Community,

Today, the state enters the final phase of the Restore Illinois COVID-19 mitigation plan. While this doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over, and we’re currently maintaining our shared responsibilities on campus, this pivotal moment in the global health crisis provides a moment to recount the challenges, inspirations, and industry of the last year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A brief video, made for the class of 2021’s virtual Commencement exercises, illustrates this shared experience:



Over the past year, we truly have stayed present, even when we needed to keep apart. Our careful behavior kept transmission low and out of the classroom. We held more than 2,000 classes by both modifying in-person learning and gathering online. Lectures and symposia reached broad audiences virtually, and we showcased our art and scholarship in multiple ways, including at the new SAIC Galleries. The Anti-Racism Committee introduced a series of action items to make our School more just, and they’ve been joined by four additional long-range planning committees that will help shape the future of SAIC. We even hosted our first-ever community-wide Giving Day, which exceeded expectations. All the while, studentsalumsfaculty, and staff continued to receive honors, awards, and grants; show their work throughout the world; and use their time and talent to prove that art connects us.

We know our work will continue. There are more lessons to learn, systems to improve, and artworks to create. While cities like Chicago are experiencing a reopening, we will continue to willingly fulfill necessary precautions to protect our global community of artists, designers, and scholars.

Meanwhile, I hope that this season—as the summer interim begins and before the fall semester—you’ll get a chance to be outside. Greet your neighbors. Hug your loved ones. Reflect on all you’ve accomplished. Rest when you’ve the inclination. And prepare for all we’ll continue to do together.

Elissa Tenny