Exterior shot of the entrance to SAIC's MacLean Center.
Purposefully Different

Our Core Values

Our Core Values

Our core values were developed by passionate faculty, students, alumni, and staff as part of SAIC's strategic planning process. Taken together, they convey the flavor of SAIC—a school of art and design so distinct from any other.

A mirror on the floor with a metal object in the center with a set of mannequin heads on tripods placed along the wall.

Reid Arowood, 2023

We are Explorers

At SAIC, we exceed boundaries. Our commitment to an open structure is embodied in a curriculum of self-directed study within and across a multiplicity of disciplines and approaches that promote critical thinking, rigorous investigation, and playful creativity. Through interdisciplinary practices and in deeply focused media, faculty and students conceive and accomplish exchanges in cultural study, production, and research with artists and scholars around the world. We are a community that challenges the notion that any field is ever beyond rediscovery.

Artist's Work

Meaning and Making are Inseparable

At SAIC, we believe that meaning and making are inseparable, existing as a perpetual and productive cycle driven by experience, research, and critique. Our commitment to a wide range of media and processes supports our assertion that the artist, designer, scholar, and writer are uniquely qualified as makers to provide leadership, creative perspective, and hands-on skill for shaping today's world, as well as contributing to its opportunities. Critique, as a fundamental component of the creative process, provides assessment as well as new ideas, possibilities, and directions that enable our community to sustain argument, rigor, experimentation, playfulness, invention, subversion, and mutual respect.

We are Artists and Scholars

The students, faculty, and staff of SAIC are engaged and innovative creators of art, design, scholarship, and writing. The faculty drives our curriculum, and each member brings the diverse experiences of his or her practice directly into the classroom and studio. Our students are viewed as emerging peers and full participants in the learning that occurs in collaboration with faculty and each other. Through their diverse practices, the staff participate to support the learning process; promote the overall well-being, growth, and development of students; and enhance student success and the realization of students' full artistic potential.

An image of Millennium Park.


Our symbiotic relationship with the city radiates outward as students, faculty, and staff connect themselves to the diverse communities of Chicago and the entire world. Forming a city within a city, a campus, close and yet not contiguous, we are urban. The city's richness, complexity, and contradictions are the perfect environment for our own diverse community.

An image of the staircase in the Art Institute of Chicago.

We Make History

Our major encyclopedic art museum, libraries, special collections, and public programs create an unparalleled environment for maintaining a thoughtful and tangible relationship to history and the ways in which it is continually revisited and represented, fueling our innovation and experimentation and keeping our historical and critical discourse completely active. Students, faculty, and alumni of SAIC have made significant and groundbreaking contributions to the art, design, and scholarship of the 20th century, and continue to do so in the 21st.