Visual & Critical Studies Department Highlights

Associate Professor Karen Morris's The LGBTQ+ Intergenerational Dialogue Project (co-founded in 2019 with our colleague in Art Education Adam Greteman) is a long-term partnership between SAIC and Center on Halsted (the Midwest's largest LGBTQ+ community center) that brings together LGBTQ+ students and LGBTQ+ elders (60+ years old) for dialogues, collaborative creative work, and shared meals. For the past two years, participants in the project have met weekly or bi-weekly to discuss topics important to LGBTQ+ histories, politics, and pleasures. In 2020-2021, Karen and Adam co-taught a course entitled Generating Queers. Students in the course collaborated with elders in small groups to produce work (a sound piece, a visual essay and anthology, a book of collage and transparencies, a virtual road trip, and a fashion blog) related to the topic of "queer joy." VCS undergrad and grad students have been involved in both years of the project. They also launched the project's website (, designed by MAVCS alum Lindsey Scott. The project was featured in an article on intergenerational connections in The New York Times, and an article on the project in The Windy City Times (Chicago's long-running LGBTQ+ newspaper). Karen and Adam also published an essay about the project in the April 2021 issue of the American Anthropological Association's national publication Anthropology News. 

Professor Joseph Grigely's exhibitions this year include "Songs, With And Without Words," at the Krakow Witkin Gallery in Boston; "Two Scenarios for a Collection," Frac Normandie Rouen; "Poetic Faith," SMAK, Gent, Belgium; "Hotel Beethoven," Bozar, Brussels; "Huis Clos," Curated by Andy Stillpass.  Air de Paris Viewing Room; "WIIGIIWAAM, Air de Paris Viewing Room; "It’s Urgent!" Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Luma Foundation, Arles; "Do It (Home)" ICI in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture; "Higher! Higher! Lower, Lower. Louder! Louder! Softer, Softer," Shimmer, Rotterdam; and "Infinie Liberté," Cauvaldor, Souillac, France. Grigely also co-curated with Amy Vogel the exhibition "Inside the Inside," Air de Paris Viewing Room, November 2020. In addition to giving talks at Cal Arts and the NYU Center for Disability Studies, Grigely published several articles, including "Fuck You Be Nice,"  In Assessing Risk: On Strategies for health, safety, and welfare within arts practice, edited by Eloise Sweetman and Isabelle Sully. Kunstlicht (Amsterdam) Vol. 41.4, 2020; "Angling As Optimism."  Picpus (London), Issue 24, fall 2020; and "On Cleaning Books," in Sandra Danicke, Für immer: Leben mit Provisorien.  Wien: Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2021.

Adjunct Assistant Professor Josh Rios's recent publications include "Ground, Unsettle, Surround: An Echo" and "Other Instrumental Subjects (A Script in Stanzas)." He exhibited work in Acoustic Resonance, a group show at the The Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA,Portland, ME: Ground, Unsettle, Surround (2020). His work also featured in the group exhibition State of the Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. And in February, 2021, he gave a performance in Experimental Sound Studio's Quarantine Concert Series, organized by Pt.Fwd. Among other appearances, Rios was Session Chair for “Re-Working Labor: Art, Work, and Working Art,” at the 2020 CAA conference, and his artist talk “Nonfragmented Multiplicities,” Visual and Critical Studies Faculty Lecture Series, is now archived for posterity here. Rios is Faculty Advisor of the Native American Student Association and Latinxs Unidxs Association at the school, where he also is a member of the Contemporary Practices Anti-Racism, School-Wide Anti-Racism, and Land Acknowledgment Committees. His recent awards include the Team Teaching Award (for Decolonizing Time Travel taught with Nicole Marroquin from Art Education), Fall 2020, and a Faculty Enrichment Grant (for the production of Urban Vision as Communal Care), Fall 2021. He was in residency from September 2020-September 2021 with Re:place, a year-long performing artist program, mutual aid network, and experimental arts platform hosted by Co-Prosperity in support of ongoing excavation of BIPOC and QT+ histories and futures of Chicago.

Professor Romi Crawford co-curated, with Theaster Gates, K. Kofi Moyo and FESTAC ’77: The Activation of a Black Archive at the Logan Center for the Arts. Her edited collection, Fleeting Monuments for the Wall of Respect, published by The Green Lantern Press/University of Minnesota Press is on the cusp of appearing on your local booksellers' shelf. Crawford is serving as a member of the Chicago Monuments Committee and contributed to the catalog A Tale of Today, focusing on the work of two Chicago artists: Nate Young and Mika Horibuchi. Crawford also contributed to the Winter 2021 issue of Critical Inquiry with an essay entitled "Connecting Breaths."

Adjunct Professor Terri Kapsalis co-created Season One (eight episodes) of Mirror and a Flashlight, a podcast from the  Chicago Women's Health Center, and was a panelist on "Destigmatizing Reproductive Healthcare," a program related to the Museum of Contemporary Photography's exhibition Reproductive: Health Fertility Agency. Kapsalis also performed as a carnivorous plant on Claudia Hart's Mozilla hub as part of a two day festival, Ludicy: an Evening of Para-Pandemic Liberation, produced by Hyphen-Hub877877; and participated in (MAVCS alum) Gordon Hall's book launch and reading for their new book, Other People's Houses, published by A.I.R. gallery in collaboration with Walls Divide Press; and she also participated in book launch on ESS Quarantine Concerts for Bullets for Dead Hoods: an  Encyclopedia of Chicago Mobsters, C. 1933, salvaged by John Corbett and published by Soberscove Press.  

Assistant Professor Kamau Patton was a 2020 ESS Archive Artist in Residence, the fruits of which include The Past and Other Dreams. From the EES site: "Utilizing recordings from the Sun Ra / El Saturn Collection (items SR-R149, SR-R116, and SR-C211), Patton weaves the voices of Sun Ra, Alton Abraham (Sun Ra's business partner and El Saturn co-founder), and others into side-length immersive transmissions. Each piece resides on its own cassette, in a special double-tall norelco."

Lecturer Danny Floyd has just had a curatorial proposal accepted at Heaven Gallery with his collaborator Jeff Prokash, which will feature, among others, two BFA/VCS students: Clayton Philips and Hannah "Lawson" Lawson. It's a sequel to their 2014-2015 show at Ballroom Projects (Chicago) and Fjord Gallery (Philadelphia) titled General Objects. The show will open in December, 2021. Floyd is also hard at work on ACRE's public return from Quarantine with a very promising suite of shows from their 2019 residents. He is Exhibitions Director of ACRE, which will soon be housed in a new space in Pilsen run by Performance and Contemporary Practices professor Hope Esser. 

Adjunct Associate Professor Patrick Durgin published two prose poems from his "Exegeses" series in The Canary and one verse poem in The Chicago Review, and will deliver a talk on "Anthologizing and Xenophobia" for the “North American Poetry 2000-2020/1: Poetics, Aesthetics, Politics” conference this October, to be held at Institut Universitaire de France, Paris. Durgin also published two books with his small press Kenning Editions. One is a new translation of Arthur Rimbaud's verse poems by Brian Kim Stefans. The other is an anthology of "Coronavirus Haiku" by Worker Writers School, edited by the school's founder Mark Nowak. The Worker Writers School supports writers from one of New York City’s most ubiquitous yet least-heard populations: low-wage workers. The writers in this anthology hail from the school’s worker center partners in New York City including Domestic Workers United, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, Street Vendor Project, and Retail Action Project. The anthology was launched on International Worker's Day (May Day) in an event kicking off PEN America's World Voices Festival. The haiku will also appear in videos produced by Burn The Film (MAVCS alum Zhengfan Yang and SAIC MFA alum Shengze Zhu) on Manhattan bus stop kiosks in June, 2021.

Professor Shawn Smith served as Interim Dean of Faculty in 2020-2021, Chairing the Long-Range Planning Academic Structure Group, and Co-Chaired the Anti-Racism subcommittee on Curriculum. In the fall, she was interviewed about her new book Photographic Returns:  Racial Justice and the Time of Photography (Duke 2020) on the podcast Left of Black, hosted by Mark Anthony Neal. Smith published articles this spring in Art Journal and American Quarterly. "Photography, Darkness, and the Underground Railroad:  Dawoud Bey's Night Coming Tenderly, Black" is featured as an open-access article on the American Studies Association's American Quarterly page.