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

George Lucas Lectures at SAIC

On Wednesday, April 15, renowned filmmaker George Lucas spoke to more than 800 students, faculty, and staff as part of SAIC’s Conversations on Art and Science lecture series.

For more than 40 years, Lucas has pioneered work at the intersections of art, design, science, and technology. In conversation with SAIC President (and former physicist) Walter E. Massey, the Star Wars creator talked about his unlikely path to becoming a successful filmmaker—from building hot rods as a teenager and heeding a friend’s advice to enroll in University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, to making experimental films with “a group of misfits” and cofounding (with Francis Ford Coppola) an independent studio outside of the Hollywood bubble.

Lucas noted that the one element that tied all of his endeavors together was persistence. Offering advice to SAIC students, he stressed, “Be persistent. Don’t listen to ‘No’.”

The filmmaker also discussed his early adoption of digital technologies, namely visual effects. “Art is technology,” he said. “You have a vision of what you want to accomplish with your art, and then you have to invent the technology to allow you to do it.”

Technology is integral to his cinematic storytelling, noted Lucas. And storytelling is the basis of his latest venture, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is currently planned for Chicago. Lucas talked about the museum’s focus on popular art over the past 150 years, emphasizing illustration, costume design, set design, photography, and cinema—with a significant section devoted to the Star Wars saga. Upon hearing this, an SAIC student raised a lightsaber in salute.

Other notable guests of SAIC’s Conversations on Art and Science lecture series have included physicist Sam Zeller and SAIC’s Scientist-in-Residence and mathematician Eugenia Cheng.