Marketing & Communications: SAIC's Visiting Artists Program Starts Its Season a Lecture by Tom Kalin

CHICAGO—To help close out its 150th Anniversary celebrations, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, will host a distinguished line-up of visiting artists who exemplify the boundary-blurring nature of contemporary art. Beginning February 10, SAIC’s venerable Visiting Artists Program will feature an award-winning director, producer and AIDS activist; a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award winner known for his book written entirely in emoticons; an artist whose works often straddle art, design and architecture; a Chicago-based artist known for her sculptures inspired by clothing, utilitarian objects and architecture and a controversial French artist known for her sleuth-like explorations of human relationships.

This spring, SAIC will present the following visiting artists:

  • SAIC alum, Tom Kalin (MFA 1987), is known for narrative features, installations and short experimental films and videos. His first feature, "Swoon," won a number of awards, including Best Cinematography at Sundance. Kalin directed the film "Savage Grace" starring Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore. He also was a founding member of the AIDS activist collective Gran Fury, known for its provocative public art projects.
  • Xu Bing is a pioneering contemporary artist, known for making mixed-media installations that subvert systems of language, meaning and tradition. Xu Bing has a conceptual practice that has taken many forms, including meaningless Chinese characters, an American font that looks “Chinese” and a “language” made up entirely of emoticons. Made collaboratively with the artist Ai Weiwei, his work "Wu Street" (1993) is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Joep van Lieshout founded his studio Atelier Van Lieshout in 1995 and has produced works that straddle art, design and architecture, such as sculpture and installations; buildings and furniture; and utopias and dystopias. What these works have in common are a number of recurring themes, motives and obsessions such as systems, power, autarky, life, sex and death.
  • Diane Simpson (BFA 1971, MFA 1978) creates sculptures and preparatory drawings that reflect her interest in the coexistence of the industrial and domestic worlds. Her constructed forms serve as a vehicle for exploring the influence of design and architecture of various cultures and periods in history. A major survey exhibition of Simpson's work is currently on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston through March 27, and she will have work on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago from February 16 to July 3.
  • Sophie Calle has made work that investigates provocative and often controversial methods for confronting her emotional and psychological life. She is well known for her sleuth-like explorations of human relationships and often weaves together photographic documentation, narrative texts, found imagery and personal iconography. Calle's acclaimed work has been shown in prominent venues worldwide, and she was the recipient of the 2010 Hasselblad Award in Photography.

“We are so thrilled to bring such a diverse group of artistic voices to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as part of our Visiting Artists Program,” said Andrea Green, director of SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program. “These artists have experimented to expand their understanding of some of the most pertinent issues of our time, and we welcome their unique perspectives.”

The Visiting Artists Program, founded in 1868, is one of the oldest public programs in Chicago. 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 Schedule

All presentations are free and open to the public, begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. and take place at the Rubloff Auditorium at The Art Institute of Chicago, 230 S. Columbus Dr.

Tom Kalin
Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series
February 10
Presented in partnership with SAIC's Office of Alumni Relations.

Xu Bing
February 22
Presented in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago's Department of Museum Education and SAIC's Printmedia department.

Joep van Lieshout
March 7
Presented in partnership with the William Bronson and Grayce Slovet Mitchell Lectureship in SAIC’s Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects.

Diane Simpson
Distinguished Alumni Lecture
April 5
Presented in partnership with SAIC's Office of Alumni Relations.

Sophie Calle
April 27


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 ranked No. two 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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