A student outside wearing a bird mask.

The SAIC Difference

Every school has something that makes it stand out. At SAIC, there is no one “something.” That’s because everything here—from how artists and designers learn, to our community’s deep involvement with today’s issues—is part of a big picture that’s intentional. 

We Experiment, Reinventing Making

Play and experimentation are at the forefront of the SAIC experience—and of contemporary practice. Students and faculty stretch conventions of what traditional and unconventional materials can do to explore the unknown, achieve breakthroughs, and create meaningful work that expresses a distinctive vision. Because we’re convinced that the freedom to experiment nurtures ideas and their expression, the school has a credit/no credit grading system; you have to feel free to fail.

How It’s Made: Benthos of the Synthetic Suns by Kelly Xi

In Benthos of the Synthetic Suns, Kelly Xi (MFA 2023) creates habitats for bacteria, fungi, and algae within a neon sculpture.

Kelly Xi stands next to one of their neon pieces

SAIC Shows


GIF of models walking the runway at a fashion show


GIF of artists' work on display


GIF of artists' work on display
A young student working with foil to create art.
Creativity for All

Yes You Can

Experimentation starts early here with SAIC’s classes for families with young children. Working with non-traditional materials like found objects and food tells kids that there’s no limit to what you can do.  

We Push the Boundaries of Discipline

Being open to new ways of thinking and doing is more crucial today than ever. SAIC’s interdisciplinary approach, which emphasizes collaboration across fields and media, equips emerging artists and designers to develop informed practices and prepares them for an ever-evolving creative landscape after SAIC. 

Artist's Work
Core Value

We Believe Meaning and Making are Inseparable

At the center of it all is the idea that what we make and what we’re thinking about amplify each other in a feedback loop. And so by experimenting with materials and processes across disciplines, digging into the topics that interest us, and engaging with the world, we deepen our thinking while we find the way to best express our ideas.

Aerial view of Homan Square installation

credit: Tom Harris Photography

Ethos of Civic Engagement

We Are Citizen Artists

We are citizen artists. Students and faculty at SAIC extend their practices beyond their studios, actively engaging with the world, linking studio practice to social and community issues, and catalyzing change. This synergy is one example of what we mean by “making and meaning are inseparable.”

Multiple large, transparent sheets with a projection of water hanging in a gallery space.

Linhan Zhang, "Things I cannot handle," 2021-22, Multimedia installation, artist's body

Core Value

We Are Explorers

Our commitment to an open structure promotes students and faculty to practice critical thinking, rigorous investigation, and playful creativity. We exceed boundaries to challenge the notion that any field is beyond rediscovery.

Soft pencil drawing of an unclothed figure with a tortoise and hare next to them
Question Assumptions

We Challenge Convention

"Education at its best can be a space of constructive defiance and liberation." - Asha Iman Veal (MA 2017), associate professor and curator.

We're rethinking what a museum can be and how art history is taught. We want to expand the definitions to include new ways of thinking that reflect new technologies, new ways of interacting with arts and design, and diverse perspectives. By questioning assumptions, we can create a more inclusive, more relevant art world that speaks to all communities.

Dreams of the Jaguar’s Daughter.

Redefining the Museum Concept

A sly play on MoMA, the Digital Museum of Digital Art (DiMoDA) was founded by SAIC alums Alfredo Salazar-Caro (BFA 2013) and Will Robertson (BFA 2012). The museum showcases work that uses virtual reality to build new, imagined worlds beyond traditional physical limitations.

Voices for a Sustainable Future

Sustainability-focused courses make space for emerging artists and designers to envision eco-friendly architecture and experiment with biodegradable materials. 

Remote video URL
A model wearing a white and tan outfit with detailed black stitching.

An image from the Fashion Sophomore Looks Spring 2019