A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Arianna Silen (BFA 2019)

Arianna Silen, Bachelor of Fine Arts '19

What factors influenced your interest to study at SAIC?

I wanted to create freely. As an artist and designer, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has given me the opportunity to experiment. Here, there are no limits to creativity. I find myself constantly questioning what new connections I can draw across different mediums. It is through these new found connections that interesting and meaningful work emerges. The freedom that I came to SAIC for has manifested itself in the interweaving of painting, drawing, sculpture, writing, and architecture. 

What courses within AIADO have helped shape your current work?

Introduction to Architecture taught by Taylor Lowe was the beginning of my experience in the Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects Department. Since then, I have gone on to take Architecture Studio 1 with Adrienne Brown, Studio 2 with Joseph Altshuler, and Studio 3 with Iker Gil. The architecture studio pathway has been the core for my studies that have lead to the development of my work.

In Peter Exley’s class The Intersection of Art, Space, and Experience, I learned to observe and conceptualize. In other words, I learned to really see the city, understand its complex structures, and then develop my own conceptual strategy by which art and space can create experience in the public realm. Individually, the classes have taught me skills. However, it is by combining the skills that I have learned in each particular class that have shaped how I live, think, and practice both art and design.


How has Chicago as a city influenced your research and practice?

Chicago has had an irreversible effect on me. The city’s grid has given me rigor and its architecture has provided me structure. Chicago’s many levels have allowed me to understand the different layers that make up the urban landscape. The river is to blame for the wind that had made me run faster than I thought I could. The cold, without forgetting the snow and rain, lead to introspection. It is a combination of the city’s complex structures that directly form my research and practice. 

How has the interdisciplinary BFA curriculum developed your understandings of design?

The interdisciplinary curriculum has allowed me to develop my identity as an artist and designer. By drawing connections across disciplines, I am able to develop a deeper understanding of not only what design is, but could be. Where art and design meet, infinite possibilities are created. As a painter and architect, writer and sculptor, I am rediscovering ways in which art and design can intersect and inform each other.


What are you currently investigating in your work now?

I am interested in color, specifically the color red. Currently, I am writing a thesis about the sociopolitical impact the color red has over the lives of Venezuelans. Red is not just a color, it is saturated with meaning. I am drawing connections between color and culture. 

In my practice, I explore tensions between simple geometry, color, symmetry, and balance. I believe in design that is direct and simple. Composed of repeated geometric forms and orchestrated colors, my work aims to create an immediate, visual response.


Read more interviews with AIADO students here