Get to Know SAIC

We take work seriously, but we're also playful and energetic. We think imaginatively, across borders and boundaries. See what makes us SAIC.

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A page from Emil Ferris's book, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, depicting a drawing of Mothman.

Emil Ferris, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, 2017

A Confluence of Everything

Why SAIC? It's in the Mix

Emil Ferris (BFA 2008, MFA 2010) is an award-winning graphic novelist and an alum of SAIC’s MFA program, where she studied writing after a career in toy design. Her book My Favorite Thing is Monsters secured her reputation. She believes that what makes SAIC great is the confluence of everything that makes the School different—a unique combination of factors that has helped create the SAIC makers and scholars who’ve gone on to shape the world.

Headshot of Amy Lawson Smeed.
Work Across Disciplines

Why SAIC? Ask Amy Lawson Smeed

“The biggest influence was the openness of trying new classes. The interdisciplinarity allowed me to experiment with different art forms. Before attending SAIC, it hadn’t ever occurred to me to take an animation class, and I hadn’t realized it was a career path someone could take.”

Amy Lawson Smeed (BFA 1997). Smeed is now head of animation for Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Group of students standing around and engaging with piece of art on a gallery wall.
A Resource Like No Other

Why SAIC? Our Museum

The Art Institute of Chicago museum, created by SAIC faculty, is the School’s most unique educational resource. Its collections are an extension of our classrooms and provide unparalleled opportunities for learning and research. 

Why SAIC: Our Faculty of Practitioners

Our 700-plus faculty members are practicing artists, designers, and scholars at the forefront of their fields. They’re also mentors who are shaping the next generation to be bold, thoughtful, and critically astute people who will engage with the world through their work. And they’re collaborators. SAIC’s teachers are energized by and learn from their students. 

"My job as a teacher is about getting my students to understand how art can give them a space to think critically about the world around them, so they can bear witness and create change." — Associate Professor Maria Gaspar 

For a curious student, SAIC’s course list is like a candy store. That’s because faculty members develop courses that align with their unique practices and research interests.

Making Work Playful

By approaching his ceramics work with a sense of absurd humor, Associate Professor William O’Brien (MFA 2005) hopes to create a safe space for both makers and viewers. His class Getting Weird and Hilarious helps students get beyond performance anxiety and simply create.  

Abraham Lincoln Statue in the park.

Investigating Monuments

Art historian, theorist, and critic Professor Mechtild Widrich spent years researching her 2023 book Monumental Cares, which makes the case for a new ethics in public art. Her courses on monuments take students on her journey to understand how "a statue is never just a statue."

A comic of a group of people protesting outside.

A panel from Anya Davidson's "Raised Voices" piece for the Chicago Reader.

Reimagining the News

Lecturer Anya Davidson uses her illustrations to bring headlines to life. Her course Comics: Graphic Journalism teaches students to do the same. “Comics are essentially like a universal language,” she said. “They’re about ease of communication, clarity of communication.” 

SAIC Shows

Every year, our students exhibit their groundbreaking art and design work at SAIC Shows on campus.


GIF of models walking the runway at a fashion show


GIF of artists' work on display


GIF of artists' work on display