SAIC Announces Winner of the Jean Goldman Book Prize

Chicago—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), one of the nation’s leading art and design schools, proudly announced the winner of its Jean Goldman Book Prize, awarded annually to the most outstanding book written by an SAIC faculty member.

The 2014 award was given to Shawn Michelle Smith, Professor in the Department of Visual and Critical Studies, for her volume, At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen. The book explores photography as a medium to revolutionize perception, making visible what was previously impossible to see with the human eye. By analyzing the dynamics of seeing and not seeing, Smith focuses attention as much on absence as presence; as much on the invisible as the visible. By exploring historical examples of selected photographers, she elucidates what fails to register photographically and what remains beyond the frame, what is hidden by design and what is obscured by cultural blindness. In evaluating the book, James Panero, a juror on the selection panel and editor of literary magazine The New Criterion, wrote that her work is, “an elegant and chilling look at the medium of photography.”

Smith studies the cultural history of photography in the U.S., and race and gender in visual culture. She has written several books about photography and visual culture, including Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture (Duke 2004) and American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture (Princeton 1999). Smith has been called, “our foremost scholar of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American photography” by author Elspeth H. Brown. At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen can be purchased through

The submitted books were evaluated by a distinguished jury that includes Panero; Susan Rossen, former Director of Publications at the Art Institute of Chicago; and Thomas Sloan, art historian and professor. Presiding over the jury was its foreman, Natalie Van Straaten, former editor and publisher of Chicago Gallery News. The Jury Steering Committee includes leaders of the major visual arts institutions in Chicago and is chaired by Douglas Druick, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Jean Goldman Book Prize was presented by Walter Massey, President of SAIC, at the annual Literary Lions Luncheon on Oct. 7, at The Casino, 195 East Delaware Place. The guest speaker was Robert Storr, distinguished curator, critic, SAIC alum (MFA 1978, HON 2001), and Dean of the Yale University School of Art. Among the distinguished guests were the nominated authors, the Jury Steering Committee and its chairman, Druick.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

A leader in educating artists, designers, and scholars since 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers nationally accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees and post-baccalaureate programs to more than 3,200 students from around the globe. SAIC also provides adults, high school students, and children with the opportunity to flourish in a variety of courses, workshops, certificate programs, and camps through its Continuing Studies program. Located in the heart of Chicago, SAIC has an educational philosophy built upon an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, giving students unparalleled opportunities to develop their creative and critical abilities, while working with renowned faculty who include many of the leading practitioners in their fields. SAIC's resources include the Art Institute of Chicago and its new Modern Wing; numerous special collections and programming venues provide students with exceptional exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and performances. For more information, please visit

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