The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Photo Credit: Telephone Melt
What do writer David Sedaris, painter Jeff Koons, fashion designer Halston, and painter Georgia O’Keefe have in common?  They are all notable alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). More than just a museum, the Art Institute is also a catalyst for learning. The school, which was founded in 1866, was originally called the Chicago Academy of Design and then the Chicago Academy of Fine Art before finally adopting its current name. According to its website, SAIC, which is nationally accredited, boasts the largest joint school and museum campus in the United States, with classroom facilities located both adjacent to the museum and nearby in the Loop.

SAIC offers undergraduate, post baccalaureate, and graduate degrees in concentrations ranging from the expected — art and technology, art education, ceramics, sculpture, fashion design -– to the more obscure –- historic preservation, performance, sound, etc. For a full list of programs offered, visit their website. As of Fall 2009, the total enrollment was 3,098, including 2,379 undergrads and 719 grad students. Applying to SAIC is a rigorous process involving completing the typical forms and essays required by most colleges, in addition to submitting a portfolio of work in the student’s desired area of study.

The SAIC is very selective in choosing its students, and is equally fastidious when hiring instructors. Much of the faculty consists of professors who are actively working in their specified fields. According to the SAIC website, “The faculty bring to their teaching the challenges they face in their own creative work and the expertise of having learned to overcome them in different ways.”  The faculty, therefore, function as teachers, mentors, and valuable resources for the students when they have “real life” questions.

Even if you’re not planning on serious schooling and devoting your life to an artistic vocation, SAIC offers continuing studies programs aimed at enhancing creative development in adults, high school and middle school students, as well as children. These programs, which are less rigorous (and less expensive!) than enrolling in full time classes, encourage anyone and everyone to dabble in creative endeavors. In addition to classes, SAIC’s Ryerson and Burnham Libraries possess books and resources that explore all facets of art history and are open to both students and the public.

Whether you are a serious art scholar looking to enhance your resume and career, or just a closet artist looking to explore your creative side, be sure to check out the website and see all that SAIC has to offer.

The Essentials:
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Location: 37 South Wabash Ave.

Brittany Clingen

About Brittany Clingen

Born and raised twenty miles outside Chicago and now residing in Wrigleyville, this life long Cubs fan enjoys running along the lake, taunting Sox fans, reading books, dabbling in screenwriting, and pampering her pug named Pug. On the weekends she frequents a number of popular North side watering holes and tours around the city with friends, welcoming any adventure that might come her way.

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