A sculpture student working in the metal shop

Graduate Curriculum & Courses

Graduate Curriculum & Courses

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is designed to offer maximum flexibility in addressing your individual needs as a student. Following admission through a department, you will design your two-year plan of study based on optimizing the offerings and opportunities available throughout SAIC. You are encouraged to seek out curricular advising as needed from a variety of available sources including the dean, graduate dean, graduate division chair, department heads, academic advising, the graduate admissions office, and your peers.

Studio—MFA 6009 Graduate Projects, Seminars and/or maximum of 12 credits of 3000-level and above studios39  
Art History12  
  • ARTHI 5002 Graduate Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art OR ARTHI 5120 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design(3)
  • Art History Courses, 4000-level or above (9)
 
Electives—any course in any area at 3000 level or above9  
Participation in four graduate critiques 
Participation in ONE of the following as appropriate to artistic practice:* Graduate Exhibition, AIADO or Fashion Exhibition, Graduate Performance Event, Graduate Screenings 
Total Credit Hours60 

* Students who wish to use an alternative venue or presentation outside of these options must receive permission from the Dean of Graduate Studies. The AIADO Department encourages students in their MFA design programs to participate in the AIADO and Fashion Graduate Exhibition.

Degree Requirements & Specifications

  • Completion schedule: You have a maximum of four years to complete your MFA in Studio degree. This includes time off for leaves of absence. Students will have access to studios for four semesters only.
  • Transfer credits: You must complete a minimum of 45 credit hours in residence at SAIC. You can request up to 15 transfer credits at the time of application for admission, which are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credits are permitted after a student is admitted.
  • Art History requirement: MFA students are required to take ARTHII 5002 Graduate Survey of Modern and Contemporary Art OR ARTHI 5120 Survey of Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design. Art History courses must be at the 4000-level and above.
  • Undergraduate studio courses: Graduate students are permitted no more than one undergraduate studio course (3000-level and above) per semester without permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Courses at the 1000 and 2000-level are allowed only with permission.
  • Full-Time Status Minimum Requirement: 12 credit hours

MFA 6009 Graduate Projects

MFA 6009 Graduate Projects advising, an ongoing individual dialogue with a wide range of full-time and part-time faculty advisors, is at the heart of the MFA program at SAIC, encouraging interdisciplinary study across the curriculum. You are required to register for one MFA 6009 Graduate Projects advisor each semester, and we highly recommend you register for two.

In the registration process, you may elect to earn 3 or 6 hours of credit with each advisor. This option is designed to allow for maximum flexibility in designing your program. You can earn as few as 3 and as many as 6 credits with each advisor each semester, thus dedicating a maximum of 12 credit hours to your studio activity. The number of credits you earn has no correlation with the length or frequency of the advising sessions or to faculty assessment of student work.

The remainder of credits required for the full-time 15 credit hour load may include graduate seminars and academic or studio electives. MFA students are urged to take graduate seminars, and an introductory seminar in their department of admission is highly recommended. In addition, the MFA student may choose from all the art history, studio, and academic offerings across the curriculum (including undergraduate offerings above 3000 level) in any given semester to customize their degree experience.

Graduate Critiques

As one of the principle means of assessment each semester, you will be required to participate in Critique Week, a week-long schedule of critiques during which classes are suspended.

Fall semester critiques are organized by department with panels representing the discipline. This provides you with an opportunity to understand the department’s expectations, have your work reviewed from a disciplinary point of view, and to reiterate the expectations for graduate study.

Spring semester critiques are interdisciplinary, with panel members and students from across SAIC disciplines. Interdisciplinary critiques allow for a broad range of responses to your work, and are intended to assess the success of your work for a more general, albeit highly informed audience. Critique panels include faculty, visiting artists, and fellow graduate students.

Graduate Exhibition or Equivalent

At the conclusion of your studies, you will present work in the SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition, other end-of-year events at SAIC, or the Gene Siskel Film Center—or arrange with the graduate dean or division chair for an alternative thesis of equal professional quality. Each year more than 200 graduate students exhibit work, screen videos and films, and present time-based works, writings, and performance to a collective audience of 30,000 people.

Students wishing to install work around prevalent themes, strategies or stylistic affinities can participate in a juried and curated section of the SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition. A faculty and staff committee conducts extensive studio visits and as a collaborative project with student participants, organizes and installs the show in designated space at the exhibition.

Undergraduate Courses

MFA students are advised to understand the expectations of their faculty when enrolled in undergraduate studio classes. Although graduate students are an asset to the group dynamic, faculty requirements for graduate students in undergraduate classes are variable. The student is responsible for understanding the faculty member's expectations about completion of assignments, attendance, and any other criteria for earning credit. To assure that graduate students are working at degree level, they are permitted no more than one undergraduate studio course (3000 level and above) per semester without permission of the dean of graduate studies. Courses at the 1000 and 2000 level are allowed only with permission.

Course Listing

Title Catalog Instructor Schedule

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Open to Freshmen only.

Class Number

1421

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 015

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Open to Freshmen only.

Class Number

1410

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 015

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Open to Freshmen only.

Class Number

1417

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 015

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Open to Freshmen only.

Class Number

1422

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 015

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Open to Freshmen only.

Class Number

1424

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 015

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Open to Freshmen only.

Class Number

2238

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 015

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Open to Freshmen only.

Class Number

2347

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Public Space, Site, Landscape, Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 023

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore or above.

Class Number

1409

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 127

Description

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will investigate making in relation to material, time and space. We will consider aspects of sculpture such as meaning, scale, process, social engagement, ephemera and site; and explore the formal properties and expressive potential of materials including mold making and casting, wood, metal and experimental media. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that reflect the history of contemporary sculpture. Demonstrations and authorizations will provide students with experience and technical proficiency in sculptural production while readings and slide lectures venture into the critical discourses of sculpture.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: Must be a sophomore or above.

Class Number

2396

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 127

Description

Students are introduced to the fundamental principles and practices of woodworking through lectures, demonstrations, and projects.

Class Number

1882

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 023

Description

This course offers instruction in various methods of casting, including simple plaster molds, hydrocal-cement casts, simple body casts, thermal-setting rubber molds, wax, terra cotta, and paper casting. Students are advised to bring objects they desire to cast. (No hot metal casting in this course.)

Class Number

1413

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 030, 280 Building Rm 032

Description

This course is designed to introduce students to the basic techniques of subtractive sculpture. Students will be encouraged to develop an innovative body of work within a material based format. A wide range of carving techniques and materials will be introduced. Historical models will provide vocabulary for understanding methodology and ideas. In class presentations will also acquaint students with artists who approach carving within postmodern ideologies. New technologies such as laser cutting will be introduced. A directed and productive approach to studio practice will be cultivated.

Class Number

1414

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Furniture Design

Location

280 Building Rm 015

Description

This course asks the question, `How can artists cross the street without leaving their art behind?? This class hopes to raise issues of citizenship, creativity, collaboration, community, environment, and the changing roles of artists at the end of the twentieth century and the start of the twenty-first. Students study historical and contemporary examples of how artists have found the time, space, and resources to do and present their work, and how they make alliances with other artists and other communities to achieve professional, cultural, and political goals. Students help plan curricular innovations at SAIC and participate in related activities such as visiting artists programming. They explore the possibility, in part through on-site visits, of establishing or strengthening ties between SAIC and various communities throughout Chicago. Students further develop course themes through substantial written assignments and through applications of these ideas in their studio practice. The goal of the course is to give students the motivation, knowledge, and tools to take an active role as citizens in a multicultural democratic society.

Class Number

2273

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Community & Social Engagement, Public Space, Site, Landscape, Art/Design and Politics

Location

Sharp 403

Description

Now, more than ever, sculpture is the most inclusive category of artmaking. Yet even at the height of this expanded field, a residual hierarchy remains when it comes to means associated with craft. In this course students examine traditional sculpture and craft processes in relation to notions of taste, class, gender, age. Students consider skill or craftsmanship; utility and decoration; commercial pressures vs. aesthetics standards and are encouraged to examine their own relationship to specific materials, processes, and techniques as a source of meaning and foundation for sculptural practice.

Class Number

1415

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 127

Description

Patternmaking is at the heart of metalworking, woodworking, fashion, architecture and many other disciplines. Why? Because so many materials are available in sheet form. Students in this course will investigate a range of processes by which flat sheet materials like paper, wood, metal, fabric, vinyl, and plastic can be used to make volumetric, three-dimensional forms. Patternmaking for Sculpture will teach the student digital and analogue methods of designing, cutting, and assembling 3D work. Practical strategies as well as contemporary industrial use and the history of patternmaking will be explored to give each student a range of options for making their own work, whether it be art or design.

Class Number

1885

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Product Design

Location

280 Building Rm 127, 280 Building Rm 127A

Description

This course introduces the aesthetic, technical, and historical aspects of the casting process as it relates to sculpture. Students learn basic skills in waxworking, investment applications, furnace and kiln operation, metal finishing and chasing, and patination. Lost wax and ceramic shell will be the primary techniques utilized for pattern generation and molding in this course. Students develop these skills through a series of studies that culminate in a final project.

Class Number

1881

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 026, 280 Building Rm 030

Description

Students in this course pursue assignment-based explorations in sculpture. Technical demonstrations help students develop material interests and studio skills, including innovative uses of both traditional and digital processes. Within the semester students will produce (three) projects with a focus on the artistic and social contextualization of their work. Multiple individual critiques help students analyze their work and articulate their intentions. Student presentations and readings deepen the student?s theoretical groundings in the discipline. Class critiques are a workshop forum for application of the knowledge and verbal skills that define an artistic and aesthetic position.

Prerequisites

Prerequisite: SCULP 1101 or SCULP 2001

Class Number

1416

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 127

Description

This studio course investigates issues of size and scale through lectures and discussions, outside readings, and the studio work of the participants. Its aim is to pursue our attraction to the gargantuan and the miniature. The course examines not only the formal factors which effect our perceptions, but, more importantly, the social, political, and psychological implications of such works. Issues of public and private space are addressed by comparing the monumental and the propagandistic elements of spectacle, as well as the enchanted, intimate, and fetish qualities of the small. Topics discussed range from Mt. Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty to David Hammons's Bliz-aard Ball Sale. Student projects are generated from their own related interests and concerns with interdisciplinary work encouraged.

Class Number

1997

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 127

Description

Digital Projects is an experimental sculpture studio with an emphasis on CNC (computer numerical controlled) milling, routing and surfacing. Students will be introduced to Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Machining (CAM) to produce finished works in a range of materials including wood, foam, wax, aluminum and plastic. Experience with Rhino, Fusion360, Maya, Blender or another CAD package is useful but not necessary. Students will use a range of CNC output options in the Columbus Digital Fabrication Studio, the Materials Lab and elsewhere on and off the SAIC campus. Digital Projects will give students ample time to learn new digital subtractive techniques and experiment with how to integrate them into their own critical and conceptual framework.

Class Number

1418

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Location

280 Building Rm 127A

Description

Materials Lab: Raw & Cooked Materials will explore five techniques of material reuse and invention: densify, reconfigure, transform, design and cultivate. Dispensing with the notion of nature as raw material, standing supply, this course begins with surplus, waste and by-products as an earlier beginning point of meaning and making. This class will look at vernacular architecture, secondary use design and current industrial models of material manufacture to understand both the physical properties of materials and their interconnected social, political and ethical meaning.

Class Number

1887

Credits

3

Department

Sculpture

Area of Study

Politics and Activisms, Art and Science, Collaboration, Public Space, Site, Landscape, Sustainable Design

Location

280 Building Rm 030

Take the Next Step

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.