Meet the Incoming Class

Alyha Khalil
BA

Describe yourself in three words.
Hardworking, kind, optimistic.

What is a piece of art that resonates with you?
A piece of art that resonates with me is a multimedia self portrait I made out of yarn and fabric. I feel like it represents a version of me in this new chapter of my life that feels and appears more vivid and accurate to my optimism. 

Why did you choose SAIC?
I chose SAIC because I felt very connected and inspired by the campus environment and what they had to offer to students. SAIC feels like a space where I can see myself growing as an artist and networking with others in order to become more knowledgeable of the art community. 

What are you passionate about?
I'm passionate about making art that represents the Black community and having conversations that create a new layer for my creative process. 

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in the conversations I have with other artists about their creative process and in constantly visiting galleries to gain insight into other artist's worlds and viewpoints.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time at SAIC?
I hope to gain more experience in curating art galleries and to evolve my art practice on a larger scale. I also hope to form more connections with Chicago artists and create a strong community at SAIC.

Hal Shipman
MFA

Describe yourself in three words.
Overeducated, homophile, redneck.

What is a piece of art that resonates with you?
Past Recovery [10], 1979 by Esther Parada. I recently encountered this piece for the first time at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. I have a deep interest in the family album as an artifact/object and the implied narratives arising from the sequencing and editing of these images. Past Recovery hits all of those buttons for me. I just love this piece.

Why did you choose SAIC?
Two vectors intersected for me at SAIC. I am tied to Chicago for a number of reasons; my marriage, mortgage, job, etc. Then, my work has been interdisciplinary for a long time, so SAIC was clearly a front-runner for developing my practice. I didn’t even apply to anywhere else. I just laser-focused all of my attention and energy on my application here. I’m insanely lucky that one of the absolute best programs in the country that fits my practice happens to be here and that I got in.

What are you passionate about?
Social history and the preservation and elevation of historically erased voices, particularly of LGBTQ+ communities.   

Where do you find inspiration?
Wandering galleries and museums makes my head bleed with ideas, of course. I also love rummaging through the stacks of the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives [11], one of the largest LGBTQ+ archives in the nation. Also, I’ve been a GH volunteer and board member for a number of years and give very good tours. Reach out.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time at SAIC?
To be challenged in creating an exceptional body of work; to learn and get honest, frank input from my teachers and peers to drive my practice to be the best. One of my first photography professors, Geoff Winningham at Rice University, told us that photography is a license to explore. For me, photography is an obligation to do so. I’m looking to break through my comfort zone and explore things that scare and challenge my sensibilities and personal boundaries.

Gemma Kim
MA (Dual Degree)

Describe yourself in three words.
Curious, sentimental, mindful.

What is a piece of art that resonates with you?
There was an installation I saw a few years back by Ann Hamilton called at hand [12] that I still think about pretty often. The sound environment she created and the mechanical aspect left a strong impression and presented a cool rumination on the idea of absence. 

Why did you choose SAIC?
I feel that SAIC offers an interdisciplinary approach to both art history and arts administration and policy that would leave space for lots of creativity and new approaches to thinking even within my degree programs. I was also excited at the prospect of learning and working in an environment with artists and gaining more perspectives that would be valuable to my own graduate experience. Being from the east coast, pursuing grad school in Chicago also felt like a challenging yet exciting opportunity. 

What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about making art and art spaces inclusive, equitable, and accessible to everyone and working to dismantle institutional barriers and social inequalities deeply rooted within the system of arts institutions. 

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in a lot of things including the little aspects of everyday life, the stories and experiences I hear about from people near and far, and the environments around me. I think the last few years of the ongoing pandemic and the increasing spotlight on social and environmental change have also added perspective to my own priorities, values, and what motivates me each day and in my work. 

What do you hope to accomplish in your time at SAIC?
I hope to gain a better understanding of the systems embedded in our institutions to be equipped with strategies and experiences to help be an avenue for change in these systems. I hope to leave SAIC with an even broader perspective of the art world, enriched with the experiences and connections made through my time in the program.

Illustrations by Dani Knight