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.
What does it look like when art, design, and scholarship push boundaries in the service of ideas? Take a look.
Smith (MFA 2016) confronts colonialism and its impact on identity. His immersive works span materials and styles, highlighting shared human narratives and his Caribbean heritage.
Hu (MFA 2019) melds humor, parody, and pop culture in emotionally-charged installations and performances that challenge norms around the meaning of “art” and “artist.”
Kim (BFA 2017) discovered toy design through an SAIC class and is now a toy designer for McDonald’s. The job taps into every skill she learned at SAIC, including collaboration—and play.
When Tosca made the leap from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to SAIC, she was intrigued by the idea of teaching science to artists. Today, she helps students envision how their work can speak to issues that science uncovers.
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.
One of the featured neon works in Benthos of the Synthetic Suns by Kelly Xi. Photo by Eugene Tang
Kelly, an MFA candidate, is an interdisciplinary artist who focuses on digital media and sustainability. Originally from Baotou, Inner Mongolia—home to the world's largest rare earth metal supplier—Kelly's background informs her distinctive artistic practice.
Photo by Eugene Tang
The Research and Inspiration
Kelly's work advocates for creating "direct alliances with the organisms that support our ability to live." Her research investigates the connections between light, ecology, and technology. Her interest in photosynthesis is driven by her interest in the life-sustaining properties of light in contrast to what she sees as the bleak nature of LED-lit screens that surround us.
Photo by Eugene Tang
What Is This?
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.
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.
credit: Tom Harris Photography
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.”
Linhan Zhang, "Things I cannot handle," 2021-22, Multimedia installation, artist's body
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.
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.
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.
An image from the Fashion Sophomore Looks Spring 2019