Nearly two years into a pandemic that drastically upended all aspects of life both at SAIC and around the world, elements of life before have returned. Campus buzzes with activity: students pack into elevators, classes tour the Art Institute of Chicago, familiar weekly rhythms reemerge. We’ve come back.
But what does it mean to come back? The phrase implies physical proximity; coming back provides a sorely missed opportunity for individuals to be in community. To come back might feel celebratory— a conquering of seemingly insurmountable odds. Perhaps it feels unsettling—for many of us, returning to campus involves taking risks and moving away from loved ones or support systems. For those of us who cannot be physically present in Chicago at this time, what might it mean to “come back” in a broader sense?
While life at SAIC regains some semblance of normalcy, it is difficult to conceive of our coming back as complete, an achievement unlocked. The virus itself has repeatedly come back, ebbing and flowing through waves of infection and mutation. Profound loss, inequity, and uncertainty continue to shape our world.
COME|BACK exhibits art that addresses the range of emotions and experiences elicited by living through the present. Art provides us with a mode for dwelling in and making sense of the messy, often contradictory nature of everyday life. This in person and online exhibition embraces these nuanced responses and manifold perspectives.
COME|BACK is also a beckoning, a call to be together. In whatever way you’re able, please come back. We’ve missed you.