Painting and Drawing Graduate Overview

With an emphasis on studio production, critical discourse, and material rigor, the Painting and Drawing department at SAIC embodies the propositional models that are redefining contemporary painting in the 21st century. Our program offers students a wide array of approaches, from traditional ‘metier’ models to experimental and radical hybrid methods, giving students the education and conceptual tools to build a sustainable practice. Under the guidance of an esteemed core graduate faculty, with access to the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, students can develop their studio work using the necessary critical and historical faculties required for the contemporary moment.

Learn about our graduate students.


SAIC’s Painting and Drawing Faculty are dedicated artists, writers, critics, and curators, actively engaged with local, national, and international art communities They are regularly exhibiting work at national and international galleries, museums, and institutions, as well as curating exhibitions, running galleries and writing in local and national publications. They have been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Program, the Tiffany, Ford, Guggenheim, Warhol, and Newhouse Foundations.

Expansive Strategies

The Painting and Drawing department propels students to develop the full range of their subjective, material, and conceptual experience. While some students investigate their own take on traditional painting methodologies, others expand their work to include other non-traditional media or materials, such as film/video, print media, digital imaging, performance, installation, and sculpture. Our community supports the multiplicity of viewpoints, encouraging each student to find formal languages that embody their ideas, following their logic and intuition in order to become an engaging, dynamic model of contemporary painting.

Our students have access to compelling artists, both within and outside of our program. The department has an active student-run visiting artist program of dynamic artists, critics, and curators who visit campus, giving lectures as well as group and individual critiques. Aside from this, our program has many connections in Chicago’s active community of galleries, which range from commercial spaces exhibiting established artists, independent project-based initiatives, alternative spaces, and small apartment galleries. Collectively, these spaces provide students with many ways to consider how and where they can approach exhibitions in the future.

Graduate Projects

The cornerstone of SAIC’s graduate studio program is its focus on studio practice with tutorial guidance from faculty. In addition to selecting graduate advisors from their chosen department, each semester a student can also select from more than 100 graduate faculty advisors from other departments, representing myriad disciplinary approaches and intellectual positions with regards to their work. Ultimately, the choice of advisor is predicated on each student’s particular development need. 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 other fields of expertise that support SAIC graduate projects. 

Teaching Fellowships

Following graduation, Painting and Drawing department graduate students may apply for a Teaching Fellowship. These fellowships offer graduates Painting and Drawing department courses during the academic year following graduation. 

Take the Next Step

MFA in Studio Admissions Information
Curriculum & Courses
Post-Baccalaureate Overview

Continue to explore the SAIC Painting and Drawing department website to learn about our curricular offerings, faculty, students, and alumni, visit the Master of Fine Arts in Studio degree program for more detailed information, or schedule a tour.

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or

Lindsay Adams, "Land Marked, Once Ours," 2023

MFA in Studio Painting and Drawing Brochure

Lindsay Adams, "Land Marked, Once Ours," 2023