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

Top 5 Art Connects Us Stories of 2020

At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), our community has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic as true citizen artists.

During these challenging times, 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. To celebrate the new year we've gathered the top 5 stories from 2020. 

We hope it inspires you for the year ahead.

Lockdown Puppet Theater
Photo courtesy of Armando L. Sanchez for the Chicago Tribune

Lockdown Puppet Theater Keeps Hope and Entertainment Alive in Lakeview

Alum Matthew Owens (BFA 1985), who has made puppets for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is offering socially distanced entertainment to his neighbors from his balcony. Every week, Owens hosts Lockdown Puppet Theater, a music and comedy show featuring a cast from his collection of 40 puppets, designed to bring his neighborhood some levity during quarantine. read more

Still from Mixed Reality Performance final project.
Image still from Mixed Reality Performance’s final projects.

Exploring the Power of Virtual Reality in a Newly Virtual World

The course Mixed Reality Performance, taught by Associate Professor Mark Jeffery and Associate Professor Judd Morrissey, has always blurred the lines between virtual and physical spaces. But when the pandemic required remote instruction, they had to imagine how a course focused on the interplay between these two worlds could exist in a fully digital space. learn more.

Brejenn Allen
Image courtesy of Happy P’Jappies

Student Brejenn Allen’s Hospital Gowns and Masks Bring Joy to Essential Workers

Inspired by her father’s hospital stay, student Brejenn Allen launched her own line of brightly patterned, functional hospital gowns when she was in high school. During the pandemic, the need for her gowns and masks has skyrocketed, and she’s donating over 80 percent to patients and essential workers.

Danielle Andress
Image of Danielle Andress's homemade loom

Faculty Member Danielle Andress’s Homemade Looms Teach Technique and Build Community

Danielle Andress, assistant professor of Fiber and Material Studies, is instructing her students on how to make looms from materials in their own home. To continue their art, students have made looms out of stripped bicycle wheels, chopsticks, nails, and wooden crates, a true lesson in resourcefulness and sustainability.

Image courtesy of by & for

Alums Raise Over $10,000 to Support Black Lives Matter in Instagram Art Auction

Originally founded to support artists during the pandemic, by & for, an art auction relief fund, just raised $10,000 for organizations at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement. Hosted on Instagram, by & for was founded by alum Pia Singh (MA 2017), and the latest auction of 33 artworks was curated by Singh, Jameson Paige (SAIC 2015-2018), Fabiola Tosi (MA 2017), and Alex Peyton-Levine (MFA 2017). read more