Public Programs

Graduate Public Program

As an student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), you will have the opportunity to engage with some of the leading artists and thinkers in their fields today through our full schedule of exhibitions, performances, international film screenings, and artists’ talks hosted each semester. 

Visiting Artists Program

One of the oldest public programs at SAIC, the (VAP), is an invaluable resource to students and the public alike. VAP staff organize free public lectures, screenings, performances, and readings with some of the most influential thinkers and practitioners working today. VAP arranges studio critiques and roundtable discussions, providing you with direct access to world-renowned speakers working across disciplines. Recent artists include Wafaa Bilal, Theaster Gates, Henrik Håkansson, Graham Pullin, Arlene Shechet, and Roberta Smith.

Gene Siskel Film Center

Renamed in honor of the late film critic, the Gene Siskel Film Center (GSFC) presents approximately 1,500 screenings and 100 guest artist appearances a year to more than 65,000 film enthusiasts at its downtown, double-theater space. As a student, you can take advantage of the $5 student rate and the theater’s close proximity to SAIC academic buildings, enjoying access to independent, international, and classic documentary films as well as a number of themed film festivals. In collaboration with the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation department and the Video Data Bank, the theater also hosts , a dynamic weekly series of screenings, artist talks, and performances by some of the most important media artists of yesterday and today.

Departmental Lecture Series

Many departments independently run their own visiting artist lecture series. For example, Parlor Room is a visiting artist program created, run, budgeted, and curated by Photography graduate students. Visual Communication Design brings in acclaimed and emerging designers through their Exploratory Languages Series, and the Department of Sound hosts renowned media artists and experimental musicians through the Sound Colloquium Series. These series provoke dialogue and connections between artists, curators, thinkers, and critics through public presentations, studio visits, and informal group events with graduate students and faculty.


The student-run Interlink program invites artists, gallerists, and curators to visit graduate students, conduct studio visits, and give noon-hour presentations. The program offers graduate students a unique opportunity to interface with local and national practitioners in a more intimate setting than the traditional public lecture.