Current and Upcoming Exhibitions and Programs

Exhibitions at SAIC are a significant resource for the School community and the city at large. SAIC Galleries, SITE Galleries, and other temporary locations on- and off-campus are engaged as sites of interaction, experimentation, and dialogue among students, faculty, and alumni, as well as places for collaboration with Chicago’s artists and other cultural institutions. Exhibitions are free and open to the public.  


Fall Exhibitions and Programs 2021 


[Meredith Leich, Animated Drawings for a Glacier— Kennicott (2018), photograph documenting site-specific screening. Photo by Yoni Goldstein.]

Earthly Observatory
August 31–December 3
SAIC Galleries, 33 E. Washington

Earthly Observatory explores how we sense, portray, and engage our deep planetary entanglements. Through crafted visions, close listening, and histories of conquest and protest, the exhibition examines the contested relations of ecology to economy, aesthetics to ethics that dominate our experience at one moment, and evades awareness in the next. Drawn from diverse practices across art, design, and the natural sciences, the works invite us to question the ways that we - as one among many earthlings - create our understanding of a manifold world.

Featuring: Allora & Calzadilla+Ted Chiang, Jonas N.T. Becker, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Kelly Church, Xavier Cortada, Rena Detrixhe, Paul Dickinson, Mark Dion, Jeannette Ehlers, Terry Evans, Assaf Evron, The Field Museum Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies, Terike Haapoja, Paul Harfleet, Isao Hashimoto, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Amanda Hess & Shane O’Neill, Katie Kingery-Page, Tim Lamey, SAIC's ARC Land Acknowledgment Subcommittee, Meredith Leich, Norman W. Long, Peggy Macnamara, Nandipha Mntambo, Cherish Parrish, Claire Pentecost, Ken Rinaldo, Zoé Strecker, Cole Swanson, Anaïs Tondeur, Walter Tschinkel, Erin Wiersma

Earthly Observatory is curated by SAIC faculty members Andrew S. Yang and Giovanni Aloi with Department of Exhibitions Director Hannah Barco and Graduate Curatorial Assistants Sophie Buchmueller (Dual MA 2022), and Sydney Gush (MFA 2022), Parinda Mai (MFA 2022). Exhibitions at the SAIC Galleries are supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.



Ethics of Observation 

Mark Dion and Zoé Strecker
in conversation with Giovanni Aloi and Andrew S. Yang

September 21, 2021
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Via Zoom Webinar

This panel examines our reliance on realism as a means through which truth about the natural world, and its assigned value, has been historically formulated. More recently, contemporary artists have been reconsidering the expressive potential of materiality in an attempt to blur notions of natural and artificial. What is “real” if knowledge is ultimately a matter of perception or representation, and how might an ethics of observation help make sense of this question?

To join, please follow the Zoom link here.


Alfredo Jaar: This Is Not America (A Logo for America)
July 15, 2021–January 29, 2022
SAIC Galleries, 33 E. Washington

Rick Lowe: Black Wall Street Journey
July 15–October 1, 2021
SAIC Sharp Building, 37 S. Wabash

As part of Toward Common Cause, one of Alfredo Jaar’s better-known works, This Is Not America (A Logo for America) (1987/2014/2016), is presented at the SAIC Galleries July 15, 2021—January 29, 2022. Visible from the street, the project features a sequence of projections which were originally displayed on a light board in Times Square, New York. While this project was first realized in 1987, in recent years it has been recreated in New York (2014) and London (2016).

In addition, SAIC’s nearby Sharp Building (37 S. Wabash Avenue) serves as a display location for Rick Lowe’s Black Wall Street Journey July 15—October 1, 2021. This project, Lowe’s first social sculpture in Chicago, fosters awareness of the barriers to building wealth in Black communities and offers a platform that demonstrates the resilient, entrepreneurial, creative, and inventive spirit historically and currently present within African American communities. Launching soon after the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Black Wall Street Journey brings together a group of local artists, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs to honor this history and lay a new foundation for Black prosperity in Chicago. Black Wall Street Journey headquarters is located at 314 E. 51st Street in Bronzeville where it is being incubated by Urban Juncture.

Broadcasting from SAIC’s Sharp Building is the Black Wall Street Journal, a component of Lowe’s broader project. Through a series of informative vignettes and a marquee scroll of data, texts and quotes, this video stream illustrates the journey of Black wealth, entrepreneurship, and business ownership in Chicago and beyond. It builds on the connection between Chicago and Tulsa, home to the prosperous neighborhood known as Black Wall Street and target of the 1921 race massacre which resulted in the killing of over 300 Black Tulsans and sending over 10,000 looking for refuge. Black Wall Street Journal’s goal is to highlight the innovative minds and entities that have made Chicago a hub of Black prosperity using public art to share information about Black wealth with the general public.

The Black Wall Street Journal is presented alongside the Black Wall Street Journey poster series produced by Natalie Moore in collaboration with Amanda Williams.

These works by Alfredo Jaar and Rick Lowe are presented by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. They are an initiative of Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40, which is organized by the Smart Museum of Art in collaboration with exhibition, programmatic, and research partners across Chicago. Toward Common Cause is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and curated by Abigail Winograd, MacArthur Fellows Program Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition Curator, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Lead support for Rick Lowe: Black Wall Street Journey is provided by the Allstate Foundation. Additional support is provided through the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Visiting Fellows Program at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, and the National Academy of Design/Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Trust Fund for Mural Painting. In-kind support is provided by JCDecaux.

Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 explores the extent to which certain resources—air, land, water, and even culture—can be held in common. Raising questions about inclusion, exclusion, ownership, and rights of access, the exhibition considers art’s vital role in society as a call to vigilance, a way to bear witness, and a potential act of resistance. Presented on the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program, Toward Common Cause deploys the Fellows Program as “intellectual commons” and features new and recontextualized work by 29 visual artists who have been named Fellows since the award program’s founding in 1981.