SAIC Announces 2014 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctorate Recipients; About the Honorees; Artist Biographies

Theaster Gates

Artist and innovator in the field of social practice, Theaster Gates is internationally known for his work on the South Side of Chicago, including Dorchester Projects, Black Cinema House, and the upcoming Stony Island Arts Bank and Dorchester Artists Housing Collaborative. Founder of the nonprofit Rebuild Foundation, Gates’s work both in museums and in communities responds creatively to the challenges of space.

In 2013, Gates opened the Arts Incubator in Washington Park, a vision he developed as Director of Arts + Public Life at the University of Chicago. The renovated building is now home to artist residencies, a design apprenticeship program, exhibitions, performances, and talks. The Arts Incubator has received awards including the Urban Land Institute Chicago Vision Award for Programming and the Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year Award.

Gates has exhibited and performed at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Punta della Dogana, Venice; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany, among others.

Gates has received awards and grants from Creative Time, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, United States Artists, Creative Capital, the Joyce Foundation, Graham Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and Artadia.

Ellen Sandor

Artist and SAIC alumna Ellen Sandor (MFA 1975) is a member of SAIC’s Board of Governors, a Life Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Chair of SAIC’s Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board where, in 2013, she was honored for outstanding leadership. She is a member of the Art Institute’s Photography Committee and SAIC's Fashion Committee. As the founder of (art)n Laboratory, Sandor is also currently an affiliate of eDream, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Sandor has an active, Chicago-based studio practice and has exhibited work in galleries including Feature, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Maya Polsky Gallery, and Kasia Kay Projects. Her work has been featured in museums throughout the world include the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; International Center of Photography; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma; Museum of Jewish Heritage; Museum Victoria, Australia; National Academy of Sciences; U.S. Art in Embassies Program (Germany and Zimbabwe); and Musée Carnavalet, Paris. She recently received the Thomas R. Leavens Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts through Lawyers for the Creative Arts. She has just completed a collaboration between her team and the University of Chicago Institute for Molecular Engineering on a nano particle, PHSCologram. Sandor is presently co-editing the forthcoming Women in New Media Arts: A Survey of Innovative Collaboration for the University of Illinois Press that chronicles the oral history of pioneering new media women artists.

Franz Schulze

Franz Schulze was born in 1927 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where he and his family lived until they moved to Chicago in 1939 to escape the Great Depression. After earning his Bachelor of Philosophy from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts from SAIC in 1949 and 1950, he taught briefly until awarded the Konrad Adenauer Fellowship, which enabled him to study in Munich until 1957. Schulze is an artist, working on canvas and with charcoal, and has done many portraits, including some of significant Chicago architects. A show of his drawings took place in 2011 at the Printworks Gallery in Chicago.

Schulze’s career as a writer began with his monthly Chicago report for ARTnews in 1958. He later became art critic for The Chicago Daily News in 1961, transferring to the same post in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1978. His writing has appeared in ARTnews and as corresponding editor of Art in America. In the latter journal, his articles on art and architecture continue to appear on a regular basis. His books include Mies van der Rohe, a Critical Biography (University of Chicago Press, 1985); Philip Johnson, Life and Work (Alfred A. Knopf. 1994); and Chicago’s Famous Buildings, with co-author Kevin Harrington (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Download Release (printer-friendly version): SAIC 2014 Commencement.

Commencement to take place at the Auditorium Theatre, Monday, May 12

Press/Media contact

Bree Witt
P: 312.499.4211 (office)