Marketing & Communications: SAIC Names Dawn Gavin As The Smith-Buonanno Family Director Of Contemporary Practices

CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, announced the appointment of Dawn Gavin as the inaugural Smith-Buonanno Family Director of Contemporary Practices.

Gavin joins SAIC from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where she is Chair of Visual Arts. She oversees the school’s Department of Art and the Foundations Program and serves as the Visual Arts accreditation executive on behalf of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In her art practice, Gavin investigates issues such as appropriation, identity and displacement in a range of media and has exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art; Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, New York); the Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC; and the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Michigan, among other spaces.

In her role as director, Gavin will work with faculty to develop the curricular and programmatic initiatives of the Department of Contemporary Practices, which provides an intensive introduction to contemporary art and design practices and is part of the required curriculum for first-year and transfer students.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dawn as the first Smith-Buonanno Director of Contemporary Practices,” said Lisa Wainwright, SAIC’s Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “The breadth of her experience as an artist, educator and administrator will add immense value to the Contemporary Practices department, which is the foundation for SAIC’s undergraduate experience.”

The Smith-Buonanno Family Director of Contemporary Practices was established with a generous endowment gift from Linda and Vincent Buonanno, who have a long and deep connection to the Art Institute of Chicago, both SAIC and the museum. Their daughter Julia graduated from SAIC in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Linda serves on the museum’s Board of Trustees. She is also a member of SAIC’s Board of Governors, having served on their Student Affairs and Campaign Planning committees.

Gavin has more than 25 years of experience as an artist, professor and lecturer in both the United States and Scotland, her home country. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting, a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Science degree in Electronic Imaging from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland.

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 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. For more information, please visit

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