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Arts Administration and Policy: Undergraduate Overview

The Department of Arts Administration and Policy offers undergraduate electives, a robust number of  Academic Spine courses, and also recommends an undergraduate pathway to accommodate artists, designers, educators, managers and entrepreneurs who seek a broader understanding of the many art world settings they may seek to work in.

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Professional skills (for example writing, communicating, portfolios, applications) are centrally woven into many courses.

However, the department’s objective is to make transparent how power and access are embedded in conventions and organizations, by presenting birdseye and in-depth views that consider the multiple interests of those who are vying for voice and representation. Courses may be taken with a variety of goals: continue to work creatively after graduation, better mediate art works in professional settings, explore legal and entrepreneurial frameworks, gain presenting experience and explore various career options, all while advancing a critical understanding of multiple art world contexts that include exhibition, performance, archives, publishing and curation experiences and discourses; market, community, and municipal organization settings; legal and political frameworks and entrepreneurial activities.

Faculty teaching in Arts Administration and Policy are artists who also teach across other departments, for example Contemporary Practices, Painting, Sculpture, Fiber, Writing, New Arts Journalism and Liberal Arts and/or are working lawyers and arts administrators.

The suggested pathway includes three Academic Spine courses (one each in sophomore, junior, and senior years) and a menu of additional courses from which students may choose three. The spine courses build a broad foundation of knowledge and experience, while the electives cover a range of more specialized topics.

Spine Courses
Sophomore Seminar: 2nd year ARTSAD 2900 Arts Administration Sophomore Seminar
Junior Professional Practice Experience: 3rd year ARTSAD 3900 Work Experience: What's My Job?
Senior Capstone: 4th year ARTSAD 4900 BFA & Beyond

Choose three electives from the following list. These courses may be offered in both fall and spring or once per academic year. Please check current listings.

Focus on career management:
ARTSAD 3015 Why Make Art Now
ARTSAD 3021 Constructing Meaning: Exhibit Design Practicum
ARTSAD 3900 Professional Practice: The Artist Formerly Known as Starving: Freelancing Comics and Illustration
ARTSAD 3900 Professional Practice: Work Experience—What’s My Job?
ARTSAD 3900 Professional Practice: Statements, Grants, Proposals
ARTSAD 3900 Professional Practice: Artists, Objects, Contexts
ARTSAD 3900 Professional Practice: Freelancing Comics/Illustration
ARTSAD 4008 Working Artist—Life After School
ARTSAD 4016 Artist Self-Promotion
ARTSAD 4900 Capstone: BFA & Beyond
Focus on presenting, curating and writing:
ARTSAD 3003 The Visible Side—Operating the Student Union Galleries
ARTSAD 3500 Curating in the Expanded Field
ARTSAD 4031 Special Collections Practicum
ARTSAD 4650 Musicians & the Spirit of DIY
ARTSAD 4894 Media Futures
ARTSAD 4920 Grant Writing Lab
Focus on legal and entrepreneurial knowledge:
ARTSAD 3545 Street Law for the Artist
ARTSAD 3800 Artrepreneurship
ARTSAD 4016 Artist Self-Promotion
ARTSAD 4022 Artist Start-Up
Focus on context: community engagement, markets
ARTSAD 4244 The Art Fair and the Biennale
ARTSAD 4242 Art and the World of Big Money
ARTSAD 4500 Socially and Community-Engaged Art
ARTSAD 4918 Arts Economies
Sample Course Descriptions

Sophomore Seminar

What are the concerns that drive one’s creative practice? How does one set the terms for its future development? This course offers strategies for the evaluation and communication of students’ individual practice as artists, designers and/or scholars. Through essential readings, studio projects, and writing, students will generate narratives about how and why they make art. To do so, they will investigate methods (visual, critical, written, and creative) for the reconsideration of their work and of its aims and priorities. Individual mentoring with the faculty member is a central and dedicated component of the class as a means of fostering the self-identification of goals and priorities.

 

Students will also examine historical and contemporary precedents that relate to their own work in order to consider the ways in which their individual explorations can be brought into dialogue with other perspectives. Students participate in broad-ranging discussions about the present status and future prospects of art and design through workshops, dialogues, and collaborations both in the class and in SAIC-wide conversations with other Sophomore Seminars. An important function of this course is to build upon these insights in forming a practical plan that helps students effectively map the curriculum and resources of SAIC into their own needs.

 

Junior Professional Practice Experience: Work Experience: What’s My Job?

In this course, students will analyze and report on art world and cultural ecologies and explore professional work opportunities. Through a series of guided visits, students will encounter individual professionals in their daily work-life environments. Sites include professional art and design studios, municipal arts departments, nonprofit organizations, foundations, museums, private collections, and commercial galleries. Students will have the opportunity to propose areas for inclusion. The course will lead to an expanded understanding of professional opportunities and the tools to pursue them.

Senior Capstone: BFA & Beyond

Graduating students develop a career plan in this class, while acquiring and applying the skills needed to promote and exhibit their work. Through a critique process, we will focus on developing and then implementing an exhibition proposal, taking on practical questions that precede exhibition production and addressing critically the selection of work for public display. Students will also produce professional communications materials, including visual documentation, cover letters, press releases, and résumés, while exploring opportunities for the exhibition and distribution of their work. Must be able to demonstrate and communicate an ability to reflect on a career path—personal portfolio, résumé, goals, and aspirations.

Course Descriptions: Electives

The Visible Side: Operating the Student Galleries

In this hands-on course, students learn to curate and operate the four Student Union Galleries spaces. Through this process, students actively participate in developing an exhibition concept, writing a proposal, researching artists/artwork, and developing and executing promotional materials through lectures and hands-on experience. The spaces include exhibitions curated, installed, and promoted by students in the class. Students visit profit and not-for-profit galleries in Chicago to observe curatorial, exhibition, installation, and promotional approaches. In addition, visiting curators, gallery founders, and owners are brought to the class to share their experiences with students. Over the course of eight weeks, each student is required to develop an exhibition concept (alone or with a partner), research the concept, write a formal proposal including drawings of installation plans, and participate in the installation of student exhibitions.

Constructing Meaning: Exhibit Design Practicum

In the classroom and in the field, students develop and design exhibitions for three different types of spaces: museums with walls, nontraditional interpretive spaces, and pop-up installations. We explore the relationship between people, objects, and space in these environments, leading to a reframing of what it means to exhibit. The course also analyzes theoretical and practical aspects of exhibition design, including construction aesthetics, community engagement, and the politics of display. Over the course of the term, we partner with a local cultural institution to produce an actual exhibition.

The Artist Formerly Known as Starving

This seminar introduces and develops professional practices for students pursuing a career in comics, illustration, or freelance. By creating promotional material, portfolios, and project and book proposals, they will learn how to market themselves as freelance artists. In tandem with learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry, they will have access to insight and advice from guest speakers whose careers and professional paths have paved the way for future creators.

Working Artist: Life After School

A career as an artist presents a staggering array of choices. If one choice is fantastic and another is terrible, it’s easy enough to distinguish. But there are other times when you have to pick from a range of good choices OR a range of imperfect ones. And that’s when the decisions seem a bit more challenging. This class considers how you might go about examining your choices and making the best ones for yourself. This is a professional practices class, assisting you as you begin to formulate an intelligent and informed strategy for sustaining a studio practice and navigating the art world. Topics include: résumé writing; artist statements; proposals; grants/residencies; presenting your work—in person, through a PowerPoint presentation, or submitted through a presentation packet; graduate school; job search; taxes for artists/budget; building a support system; exhibiting your work; creating a website; how to deal with a wide range of art world related concerns, including but not limited to: rejection, fears, jealousy and being stuck. The information from this class will range from the most practical—an accountant discussing taxes for artists—to the range of perspectives shared with us by visiting artists, curators, and gallerists. Throughout this course, the process of clarifying and defining the concerns of your practice is emphasized.

Special Collections Practicum

This course will provide students with hands on experience of working with SAIC’s special collections: the Video Data Bank, the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, the Roger Brown Study Collection, and the Fashion Resource Center. Dialogues with professional staff will reveal the artistic, conceptual, and philosophical issues, the physical constraints and practical opportunities contained in each unique collection. Students will design projects that respond specifically to the missions, challenges, and ongoing needs of one or more collection.

Special Collections Practicum

This course will provide students with hands on experience of working with SAIC’s special collections: the Video Data Bank, the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, the Roger Brown Study Collection, and the Fashion Resource Center. Dialogues with professional staff will reveal the artistic, conceptual, and philosophical issues, the physical constraints and practical opportunities contained in each unique collection. Students will design projects that respond specifically to the missions, challenges, and ongoing needs of one or more collection.

Interested in learning how you can apply?

Visit the undergraduate admissions website or contact the undergraduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or ugadmiss@saic.edu.