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Possible Commencement Speakers

We hope the search committee will sincerely consider our suggestions.

By F+

illustration by Sophie Lucido Johnson.

illustration by Sophie Lucido Johnson


As the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) prepares for its 150th commencement on May 16, the search for a qualified speaker is especially important. The completion of a relatively scandal-free year as yet another hopeful crop of unemployable adults matriculate into the world is a feat to be celebrated. To help narrow the search, we thought we might throw a few suggestions into the hat.



Whereas it is apparently a requirement that everyone who is admitted to SAIC be a person who tries to emulate everything about the Icelandic singer, it would be good if she actually got on stage and talked to the students here. The speech would be guaranteed to be adorable and probably brief, as Bjork on stage is not typically verbose. She would probably not even give a speech. She would probably beep repeatedly into the microphone and then project flower volcanoes on the walls of the museum. Wouldn’t that be terrific?



Having a human commencement speaker is sooooo passé. Want to feature the biggest up-and-comers in the modern artistic community? Get cats. Every really envelope-pushing digital film of the last ten years has featured cats, and yet cats have never — not even once — been invited to deliver a commencement address. Cats are relatively cheap speakers, too: Purportedly they prefer to be paid in “fatty cream” and broken headphone cords.


The Concept of Yoga

Straight-up yoga is culturally appropriative, so that’s out; but the concept of yoga is actually a very interesting candidate for an art school commencement. I mean, think about it. What is yoga, conceptually speaking, other than bending and breathing? And isn’t all art just bending and breathing, metaphorically? Sculpture bends into its own breath to take its form. Drawing and painting is bent expression of the breath of the hand. Almost all performance art is actually just yoga that costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to practice.


Ms. Danielle From Outside

Every time we go to smoke a cigarette outside, Ms. Danielle is out there too, also smoking. We don’t know too much about Ms. Danielle — she told us she worked at a drug store, but she didn’t want to say which one because she’s not interested in having “any stalkers,” and “why do you art school kids care so much about my life anyway; please stop filming me.” The bottom line is that Ms. Danielle is the everyman; she represents the masses; she’s important because she is human, and all humans are important. She might not agree to do the commencement address, but it’s worth a try.


Mermaid (Any)

A mermaid would be a good commencement speaker so that we could have more insight with regard to what to do with our hair. The hair is quite literally an extension of the self. We don’t want to dye ours neon orange again if mermaids aren’t doing it.


One Person of Every Gender

We know that this would be a lot of commencement speakers, but it just feels important that there is equal representation on the stage. And no, we will not tell you how many genders we think there are.


The Hosts on “The Great British Bake-Off”

Seriously, have you watched “The Great British Bake-Off?” It’s like an American reality TV show, but everyone is British, and they’re all really nice! Like, when one of them gets kicked off she’ll be all, “Oh, blimey, I’m so happy I got kicked off because everyone else in this competition is so spit-spot and charming and talented! Now I’m going back to my flat to be glad to be alive!” It’s a fucking inspiration. Why can’t Americans be more like that? What’s wrong with us that we have to be such dicks all the time? And also, it’s so cute how they call cakes “sponges” and cookies “biscuits.”


Kanye West

Why did SAIC blow its mother-load last year when they got Kanye to speak!? What was so special about last year, huh? No one gives a damn about the 149th commencement address ever. Shame on SAIC for having Kanye speak before the big anniversary. The only way the school can make it up to itself is to get Kanye again. Let’s be real: We’re not going to ever do better than Kanye.




Sophie Lucido Johnson is the editorial advisor for F, and has written for The Guardian, VICE, Jezebel, The Nation, and others. She makes a ton of pie.
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