Marketing & Communications: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Announces Spring Lineup 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 February 11, SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program lecture series will feature a diverse group of artists, including alum Emil Ferris whose debut graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters has received critical acclaim; bioart pioneer Suzanne Anker who tackles pressing issues such as genetics, climate change, species extinction, and toxic degradation in her work; and famed Taiwanese film director Tsai Ming-liang whose visit coincides with his first full retrospective in Chicago.

This spring, SAIC will present the following artists:

  • Emil Ferris (BFA 2008, MFA 2010) is a graphic novelist whose first book, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, has been praised by critics since its publication in 2017. The book presents itself as the lined notebook diary of a preteen self-avowed werewolf who questions her sexual identity.
  • London-based design studio Industrial Facility was cofounded by designers Sam Hecht and Kim Colin. Their approach reflects both a thoughtful consideration of form and a unique understanding of contemporary life, creating beauty out of utility in the products, furniture, and exhibitions they design.
  • Suzanne Anker is a bioart pioneer, visual artist, and theorist working at the intersection of art and the biological sciences. Her practice investigates the ways in which nature is being altered in the 21st century. Concerned with genetics, climate change, species extinction, and toxic degradation, she calls attention to the beauty of life and the “necessity for enlightened thinking about nature’s ‘tangled bank.’”
  • Drawing on principles of video game design, improvisation, and cognitive science, Ian Cheng's practice explores the nature of mutation and the capacity of humans to relate to change. He produces computer-generated simulations whose complex ecosystems are programmed to evolve without end.
  • For almost two decades, Trenton Doyle Hancock has been constructing his own fantastical narrative that continues to develop and inform his prolific artistic output. Part fictional, part autobiographical, Hancock’s work pulls from his personal experience, the art historical canon, comics and superheroes, pulp fiction, and myriad pop culture references, resulting in a complex amalgamation of characters and plots that possess universal concepts of light and dark, good and evil, and all the gray in between.
  • Born in Malaysia in 1957, Tsai Ming-liang is one of the most prominent film directors of the new cinema movement in Taiwan. He is known for his long shots, elliptical narratives, painterly approaches to light and color, and poignant portrayals of urban and sexual alienation. His visit to SAIC coincides with his first full retrospective in Chicago and is part of his US tour preceded by major retrospectives in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C.

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 Rubloff Auditorium at the Art Institute of Chicago, 230 South Columbus Drive. All seating is first come, first served and reservations are not required. For more information, visit

Emil Ferris: Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series
Tuesday, February 11, 6:00 p.m.
Presented in partnership with SAIC Alumni Relations.

Industrial Facility
Tuesday, February 25, 6:00 p.m.
Presented in partnership with the William Bronson and Grayce Slovet Mitchell Lecture Series in SAIC’s Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects.

Suzanne Anker
Tuesday, March 10, 6:00 p.m.
Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Conversations on Art and Science Series.

Ian Cheng
Tuesday, March 24, 6:00 p.m.
Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Department of Film, Video, New Media, and Animation’s Conversations at the Edge Series.

Trenton Doyle Hancock
Monday, April 6, 6:00 p.m.
Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Department of Painting and Drawing.

Tsai Ming-liang
Tuesday, April 21, 6:00 p.m.


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 alums and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons and LeRoy Neiman.

© Emil Ferris
© Emil Ferris

Press/Media contact

Bree Witt
P: 312.499.4211 (office)