Graduate Exhibition One is the culminating presentation of 45 MFA and MA candidates in SAIC’s class of 2022, and an opportunity for them to present new and ambitious work to the public in the SAIC Galleries. Graduate Exhibition One is the first of two graduate exhibitions this spring.
Visiting SAIC Galleries
SAIC Galleries welcomes the SAIC community and members of the public to visit the galleries in person. Admission is free.
*All visitors to SAIC Galleries must show a state-issued picture ID and proof of COVID-19 booster vaccination OR proof of a negative COVID-19 test from past 72 hours upon entry and remain masked while in the building.
33 E. Washington St.
Gallery Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Hugo Ivan Juarez, March 3 – 9, all day
Jess Smoot, March 3 – 9, all day
Linhan Zhang, March 3 – 9, 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Ruby Que, March 3 – 9, 4:30 – 5:00 pm
Luba Mendelevich, March 3 – 9, check @saicsculpture on Instagram for schedule
Sara Niroobakhsh, March 2, 4:00 – 4:30 pm
Zhuyan Ye & Linhan Zhang coordinated performances, March 2 & March 5, 4:00 – 5:00 pm
Clau Rocha, March 5, 3:00 pm
Students participating in Graduate Exhibition One were given the option to exhibit together as a self-curated group. There are two self-curated groups within the larger exhibition – Pink Signage and Room with a Better View. Please click on the group titles to visit their pages.
Up until 2019, the Department of Exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) followed a tried-and-true recipe to put on our MFAs’ culminating exhibition: we would hold a single graduate exhibition, in person, at the Sullivan Galleries on State Street. In February 2020, the School publicly announced the relocation of our art galleries to 33 E. Washington Street, eager to offer SAIC students a new, spacious venue with three stories to exhibit their work.
Then we experienced a break—something that forced us out of our stasis.
In the uncertainty that came with the onset of the pandemic, the 2020 Graduate Exhibition moved online entirely, marking a first for the School. Easing back into in-person activity in fall 2020, we hosted the 2021 Graduate Exhibition in our new galleries on Washington Street. Students from Fashion Design and the Departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) showed their work alongside MFAs for the first time.
Now here we are in 2022 with yet another series of firsts. The 2022 Graduate Exhibition has been split into two shows: Graduate Exhibition One in March and Graduate Exhibition Two in May. In the March exhibition, MA students from the Department of Visual and Critical Studies are also presenting work. And, on top of this, the IMPACT Performance Festival is being hosted in the gallery, accompanying our visual artists’ work.
The reasons for the historic SAIC firsts of the past few years are multiple and layered: a global pandemic, varying class sizes, institutional changes, a spirit of experimentation, and shifting student needs, to name a few. And yet, regardless of the challenges each year brought with it, every iteration of the graduate exhibition has intentionally carved out time and space to recognize the work of SAIC’s graduate students as they prepare to leave the School. For some of our graduates, this is the first time their work will be presented in a formal exhibition. For others, it is simply another point on a storied timeline of exhibiting work. In either case, the graduate exhibition offers a moment to take stock of our artists’ individual accomplishments and of our community’s concerns. In these expansive shows, we can look at work from students across departments at SAIC and find unifying themes as well as poignant differences.
Inevitably, this will not be the last year of “firsts.” The coming years are bound to bring changes that we will simply be unable to predict. Once we accept these terms, though, we can begin to understand fissures differently—not just as sites of pain, but also as openings filled with possibility and potentiality. This year’s graduate exhibitions are a manifestation of how we as artists and arts workers have sought to use this rupture as an opportunity to do otherwise, to take advantage of the flux, and perhaps most consequentially, to make meaning out of the fractures.
Elise Butterfield and Kathryn Cua are Graduate Curatorial Assistants at SAIC Galleries.