Marketing & Communications: SAIC Names Arnold J. Kemp Dean of Graduate Studies

CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, announced the appointment of Arnold J. Kemp as the School’s dean of graduate studies. Concurrent with this appointment, Kemp joins the faculty of the Department of Painting and Drawing as a professor. Kemp comes to SAIC from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where he is an associate professor and the chair of the Department of Painting and Printmaking.

Arnold J. Kemp has been making and exhibiting critically engaging art for 25 years while concurrently writing and publishing critical and creative texts. Since 2009, he has served as a mentor for graduate students in a full-time academic administration role at Pacific Northwest College of Art and VCU. While at VCU, Kemp introduced a rigorously diverse visiting artist lecture series, established a new curriculum and brought a global perspective to courses in professional practices for graduate students. Prior to that, he was the chair of the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies Program at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. He also worked as one of the founding curators of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

“We’re thrilled to have Arnold join us as our dean of graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago,” said Lisa Wainwright, SAIC’s dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs. “The many roles he has played as an artist, curator, writer and lecturer are symbiotic with his personal research, art work and passion for preparing interdisciplinary artists for a lifetime of creative practice. Having the mindset of the artist and scholar within the School’s leadership is key to what makes SAIC, and its graduate programs in particular, so influential.”

Kemp has been a visiting artist and lecturer, both domestically and abroad, at many leading schools and museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Portland Art Museum; San Francisco Art Institute; California College of the Arts; Vermont Studio Center; Parsons School of Design; University of Illinois, Chicago; Yale School of Art; Banff Centre in Canada; and York Saint John University in England, among others. His artworks are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem (New York), Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (California), Tacoma Art Museum (Washington) and the Fine Arts Collection at the University of California, Davis. Kemp is a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow and has also received awards and fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Art Matters Inc., Printed Matter, Inc. and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

“I used to keep a little newspaper clipping above my desk with a quote from Toni Morrison who upon receiving the Nobel Prize said, ‘I am outrageously happy!’ and I feel that way today,” said Kemp. “As an artist and educator, I am extremely honored to join the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the world’s foremost art and design schools. I anticipate that leading, growing and learning with SAIC’s graduate students and my new colleagues will result in great things.”

Kemp holds undergraduate degrees from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University and a Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University. As the School’s dean of graduate studies, Kemp will take over for David Getsy, the Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History at SAIC, who served in an interim capacity last academic year. Kemp’s appointment is effective Aug. 1, 2016.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For more than 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 four graduate fine arts 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, and LeRoy Neiman. For more information, please visit

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