Painting and Drawing : Graduate Overview

With an emphasis on studio production, critical discussion, and experimentation, the MFA in Painting and Drawing program at SAIC reflects and reinforces the diversity of approaches that propel artmaking today and for the future. 

Our graduate program in Painting and Drawing offers students a wide range of traditional and experimental methods that will give them the procedural and conceptual tools to build a sustainable practice. Under the guidance of an esteemed core graduate faculty and our unique resources, students can develop their individual studio practices using the critical and historical frameworks necessary to succeed in their artistic fields.

Freedom to Explore

The Painting and Drawing department encourages students to explore a full range of creative methods—some students investigate their own take on traditional painting practices, while others expand their work into other media and/or materials, including printmedia, film and video, digital imaging, and performance. SAIC’s Painting and Drawing community supports multiple points of view and a full exchange of ideas between them while helping students develop critical perspectives for their work.

Our students learn both in and outside of the SAIC community. The department has an active visiting artists program, in which a variety of artists, critics, and curators give lectures and individual or group critiques. Chicago has an active gallery scene that includes established and emerging galleries as well as apartment galleries and alternative spaces, many with direct connections to SAIC.

Renowned Faculty

SAIC’s Painting and Drawing faculty are working artists, critics, and curators, regularly exhibiting work in important galleries, museums, and other institutions internationally. They have been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fulbright Program, and the Tiffany, Ford, Guggenheim, Warhol, and Newhouse Foundations. 

Graduate Projects

The cornerstone of SAIC’s graduate studio program is its focus on tutorially guided studio practice. Each semester, in addition to selecting from graduate advisors in the department, you will select from more than 100 graduate faculty advisors at SAIC, representing myriad disciplines, approaches, and intellectual positions. Ultimately, it is the student's work that drives the choice of advisor, and both disciplinary and interdisciplinary work is supported and advanced. Faculty from the academic programs in Art History, Arts Administration and Policy, Art Education, and Visual and Critical Studies also serve as graduate advisors, providing different expertise in support of SAIC Graduate Projects.

Critique Week

Critique Week, one of the principle means of assessment each semester, is a week-long schedule of critiques during which classes are suspended and the entire faculty and invited visiting artists and designers assemble into panels that conduct intensive studio critiques with all studio and writing graduate students.

Fall semester critiques are organized by department, with panels representing the discipline. They provide you an opportunity to have your work evaluated by the department, look at your work from a disciplinary point of view, and reinforce the expectations for your graduate study.

Spring semester critiques are interdisciplinary, with panel members of faculty, visiting artists, and peers from across SAIC departments. Interdisciplinary critiques in the spring semesters allow for a broader range of responses to the work, and are intended to assess the success of your work for a more general, yet highly informed, audience.

Studio critiques are required of every full-time graduate student pursuing an MFA in Studio or Writing degree. Typically, SAIC graduate students have at least four critique panels throughout their studies at SAIC, augmenting biweekly tutorials with their graduate advisors.