The 2021 Graduate Exhibition is the culminating presentation of MFA, MDes, and MArch candidates in the SAIC class of 2021 and an opportunity for new and ambitious work to be presented to the public in the new SAIC Galleries.
33 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL
Gallery Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. by appointment only.
SAIC Galleries welcomes the SAIC community and members of the public to visit the galleries. Due to limited capacity, all gallery visitors are asked to schedule a viewing appointment in advance.
All visitors to SAIC Galleries must abide by our shared responsibilities, which require everyone on SAIC’s campus to monitor their health, maintain physical distance, wear a face covering, and practice good hygiene.
This video tour provides a walkthrough of the 2021 Graduate Exhibition at SAIC Galleries and offers a sampling of the works on view.
I want to see it torn down, but I also want to see it repaired, so it can repair us.
-Kelly Pendergrast, “Home Body” (2020, Real Life Magazine)
There is so much to be said about what is hidden from us. In her essay Home Body, writer Kelly Pendergrast discusses the invisible systems that connect us to each other, even as we spent more than a year alone in our homes. Electrical grids and plumbing that, at the flick of a switch, bring us comfort, and unevenly so. In our own cities, unhoused people, increasing in numbers daily, face not just a lack of a roof over their heads but a disconnection to structures that keep us safe. When friends have traveled to rural India, my father’s home country, many have returned to remark on what is hidden here that is so very visible there: sick people, garbage, toilets. I believe these observations come not from a place of judgment, but from a place of shock at being confronted all at once with the awe of humanity.
I remark on the straddling encounter of what is hidden because, like so many things about cities, there is much known by engineers and tradespeople about how our buildings work. Yet it is not something seen or easily seeable. This year, the pandemic year, has illustrated that tension between what can be seen, known, and felt: visible illness, invisible healing, once-invisible labor made visible, deaths so immense we cannot visualize loss. Much of this past year when art students were displaced from their learning and making environments, we knew what we lost without studios and classrooms because we could see it. We take visibility for granted and, often, fail to address what is invisible in this time of hurt. Yet, what is on display at the SAIC Graduate Exhibition is a rich study of what is visible and invisible—what can be made visible through craft, through understanding, through documentation; and, the ways that confronting visibility stops us, shakes us, enlightens us. Like John Berger posits in Ways of Seeing, as we inhabit the world, we constantly perceive it, only later naming the things that we see. Creating images is one way to recreate those perceptions, to complicate them, and to make them visible to others.
Living through this turbulent year we can all acknowledge that while so much has happened, our everyday routine may feel mundane and monotonous. We reflect on where we are today and wonder how we got here and simultaneously look to last spring as if it were yesterday. In our homes, without milestones or markers, time has felt elastic and boundless, and we wonder how each moment has passed.
This past year introduced a sudden disruption to our lives. We have experienced the isolating loss of time with family, friends and community. We have had to change how we share space with one another, and we have experienced a drastic interference with how we physically and emotionally navigate our lives. These disturbances have taken a toll on our perception of time, our attention and our memory. Time and time again, we hear: What day is it? What time is it? How is it Thursday, again? What have I done today? We now exist in a period of limbo – somewhere between our present, a past comprised of collective trauma, while helping us to cipher through a future tangled in widespread uncertainty. Our perception of everything is skewed under this lens. In other words, we cannot unsee or psychologically understand what lies before us, outside of a state of in betweenness.
Take Notice is a peer-to-peer program for interdisciplinary exchange between graduate students. Architects, artists, and designers discussed their work in the Graduate Exhibition with graduate students from various departments at SAIC. These conversations were informal opportunities to discuss one exhibitor’s work at a deeper level, and to foster connections among SAIC’s diverse student community. Reflections from these conversations can be found below, in the form of a short audio clip from participating pairs. These snippets are intended to serve as a time-capsule that documents the significance of this moment, and as a way to get to know the exhibitors and their work more closely.
The Graduate Exhibition is co-presented by SAIC’s Department of Exhibitions and the Graduate Division in collaboration with Graduate Coordinators. The exhibition and associated programming was organized by Graduate Curatorial Assistants, Sarah Brophy, Elise Butterfield, Olivia Ridge and Jiaming You. Additional thanks to all of the faculty who support the exhibiting artists, designers, and architects throughout their participation in this show.