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

SAIC Saddened by Passing of Alum and Faculty Member Gregory Bae

Below is an email sent from Interim Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Shawn Michelle Smith on July 22, 2021. 

Dear SAIC Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I share with you that alum and faculty member Gregory Bae (MFA 2012) passed away recently. He is remembered by those who worked with him as a generous leader and friend who traveled widely, always making time to connect with fellow artists and devoting himself to organizing for justice.

While a student in the Department of Painting and Drawing, Greg shared his welcoming nature as a graduate admissions student ambassador and later, as a faculty member and a reviewer for undergraduate admissions. Greg began teaching for the department in fall of 2019 and has since also taught in Contemporary Practices and Continuing Studies, finishing his most recent class, online, earlier this month. Greg’s students praise the individual attention he gave them, encouraging each to develop their own voice. His tough critique, accompanied by personalized advice, gave his students confidence in their unique contributions.

His own practice was multidisciplinary, often using accumulated detritus to speak to the impact of global forces (both physical, like gravity, and diasporic) and investigate the malleability of time and the magnetism of presence. Greg’s work, which can be seen on his websitehas been exhibited locally and in Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York, Milan, Busan, and Seoul. He received awards from the Chicago Artists Coalition, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, among others, and attended residencies at Fountainhead, Cheongju Art Studio, and the Seoul Museum of Art.

Greg was a tireless curator and organizer. He was the co-director for Bill's Auto, an exhibition space founded in 2018, and most recently curated an exhibition at Buddy, the new artist-run venue at the Chicago Cultural Center. In active response to anti-Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAAPI) sentiment, Greg was central to the organization Chicago API Artists United (CAAU), successfully raising funds for Asian Americans Advancing Justice and mobilizing generations of AAAPI artists to stand in solidarity against injustice.

A memorial viewing for Greg is planned for tomorrow, Friday, July 23, at 9:30 a.m. CT at Korean Martyrs Catholic Church (4115 North Kedvale Avenue), to be followed by a reception for Greg's family, friends, and colleagues at Color Club (4146 North Elston Avenue). A memorial exhibition is also being planned at a future date.

Our hearts go out to Greg’s family and everyone who loved him. If you are experiencing feelings of grief and wish to speak to someone, students may contact Counseling Services at 312.499.4271 or counselingservices@saic.edu. Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 800.311.4327.


Shawn Michelle Smith
Interim Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs