Marketing & Communications: SAIC Kicks Off Its Spring Season of Visiting Artists

CHICAGO—This spring, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, will host a distinguished lineup of visiting artists who exemplify the boundary-blurring nature of contemporary art. Beginning in February, SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program lecture series will feature a diverse group of artists including: Ann Hamilton, an artist known for her ingenious installations, which explore the relationships between text and textiles; Sonya Clark, who uses materials such as textiles, hair, beads, combs, and sound to unravel complex issues that address nationhood, identity, and racial constructs; and Wael Shawky, an artist based in Alexandria, Egypt, whose work tackles notions of national, religious, and artistic identity through film, performance, and storytelling. The spring season kicks off on February 7.

This spring, SAIC will present the following visiting artists:

  • Ann Hamilton, SAIC’s 2016–17 Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor, is known for her site-responsive, large-scale installations, public projects, and performance collaborations. Hamilton’s most recent project, “habitus,” weaves text, textile, and image together as mediums for an imaginative and tactile exchange between artist and audience.  Her 2012 project, “the event of a thread,” occupied the immense 55,000-square-foot drill hall of Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory with a 375-foot white silk curtain attached via pulleys to a field of 42 swings. Whether scaled to a city block or a sterling silver thimble, Hamilton’s site-responsive process works with common materials to evoke particular places, collective voices, and communities of labor.
  • Huma Bhabha creates work that addresses universal themes of colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place. Using found materials and the detritus of everyday life, Bhabha creates haunting figures that hover between figuration and abstraction, the monumental and the abject. Often tending toward the grotesque, Bhabha’s sculptural works and photo-based drawings feature bodies that appear dissected and dismembered; but one can likewise view them as monuments to human life reclaimed from the detritus of a postapocalyptic landscape.
  • Sonya Clark’s (BFA 1993) artwork and projects trace connections between hair and textiles, communities and commodities, and radicalized identities. Her works invoke ancestral ties, recall historical legacies, and address contemporary relationships through crafted materials, found objects, and collaborative actions. As an African American artist, she uses craft as a means to honor her lineage and expand notions of both American-ness and art. For her project, “Unraveled,” threads of the Confederate battle flag are unwoven, unraveled, and separated into piles of red, white, and blue.
  • Daniel Joseph Martinez’s practice takes the form of text, sculpture, photography, painting, installation, robotics, performance, and public interventions to unapologetically question issues of personal and collective identity, vision and visuality, and the fissures formed between the appearance and the perception of difference. The commonality of themes in his work is that they all address topics of race, class, and sociopolitical boundaries present within American society.
  • Wael Shawky creates work that tackles notions of national, religious, and artistic identity through film, performance, and storytelling. Whether instructing Bedouin children to act out the construction of an airport runway in the desert or organizing a heavy metal concert in a remote Egyptian village, Shawky frames contemporary culture through the lens of historical tradition and vice versa. Mixing truth and fiction, childlike wonder and spiritual doctrine, Shawky has staged epic recreations of the medieval clashes between Muslims and Christians in his trilogy of puppets and marionettes—titled “The Cabaret Crusades.”
  • Walid Raad is well known for “The Atlas Group,” a 15-year project between 1989 and 2004 about the contemporary history of Lebanon. The collection of documents archived by Raad presents a fictional universe where the hysterical symptoms of the Lebanese wars are preserved and scrutinized. Raad’s work explores how historical events in the Middle East have affected the creation, exhibition, and experience of art in the region and abroad.

“For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has brought together diverse perspectives to engage in and advance critical and cultural discourse, and we are pleased to present artists who exemplify this spirit,” said Andrea Pierro, Director of SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program.

The Visiting Artists Program, founded in 1868, is the oldest public program at SAIC. In addition to bringing some of the leading artistic voices to SAIC, the program plays a critical role in informing the curriculum by arranging studio critiques and roundtable discussions with students, providing them with direct access to world-renowned speakers working across disciplines.

Visiting Artists Program Lecture Schedule

All presentations are free and open to the public, begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. and take place in the Rubloff Auditorium at The Art Institute of Chicago, 230 S. Columbus Drive. All seating is first come, first served and reservations are not required. For more information, visit

Ann Hamilton
February 7, Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor

Established in 2006 by a generous gift from Bill and Stephanie Sick, this distinguished professorship enables internationally renowned artists and designers to visit and teach at SAIC.

Huma Bhabha
March 14

Sonya Clark
March 28, Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series

Presented in partnership with SAIC's Office of Alumni Relations

Daniel Joseph Martinez
April 3

Presented in partnership with the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies

Wael Shawky
April 12

Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation’s Conversations at the Edge series. A screening of Wael Shawky’s trilogy of puppet animations, The Cabaret Crusades, will take place on April 13 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Visit for screening tickets.

Walid Raad
April 25

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers, and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.

Ann Hamilton, the event of a thread, 2012, Park Avenue Armory, Photo by Thibault Jeanson.

Press/Media contact

Bree Witt
P: 312.499.4211 (office)