Visual Arts

Clark Kiolbassa, Visual Arts ’24. Remnants of an Afternoon. 2021, Digital Photography.

Student drawing at an easel

A Day in the Life

The Visual Arts Conservatory welcomes a scholar-artist with a wide-array of foundational instruction focusing on essential art-making skills and understandings, and then progresses toward more complex concepts including critical analysis of visual culture and the fostering of independent work. Each scholar-artist has the opportunity to “major” in a medium of their choice, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, illustration, and graphic design. Additionally, all scholar-artists have the opportunity to take art history, professional development, and select four electives in their final two years at ChiArts. Visual Arts electives include courses such as Digital Media, Mural, Wearable Sculpture, Sequential Art, and Experimental Animation.

18 Pre-Professional Donor-Funded Courses Offered

16 Dedicated Faculty Members

17 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Received*

26 Scholar-artists featured in Chicago Public School’s All-City Visual Arts Exhibition

Visual Arts Alumni Stories
Jane Manfredi drawing at an easel

Jane Manfredi

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Bachelor of Fine Arts
Co-Founder and Owner of Good Postage, an independent illustrated paper goods company in Charlotte, North Carolina
Cam Collins standing in a gallery alongside framed drawing

Cam Collins

Rhode Island School of Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking
Exhibiting Artist, Freelance Editorial and Album Cover Illustrator, and Master of Fine Arts student at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

What Do Scholar-Artists Gain?

  1. Pre-professional training that develops a scholar-artist into a critical thinker and innovative artist.
  2. Yearly exhibition opportunities through the ChiArts Gallery, cross-conservatory showcases, school-wide festivals, and regional/national submission programs.
  3. Publishing experience and a leadership skillset through ChiArts-produced publications and clubs such as ChiArts’ monthly independent magazine, CAVA (ChiArts Visual Arts), Visual Arts Curatorial Fellows, and Visual Arts Student Representatives.
  4. Fellowship and training opportunities through strong arts partnership connections such as Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado.

Exhibitions & Arts Partnerships

ChiArts’ Visual Arts Conservatory hosts a yearly exhibition for each class of scholar artists. This includes, First Year Features, Sophomore Slam, Junior Jam, and the Senior Showcase hosted by an arts parter’s gallery space. The ChiArts Senior Showcase is the culminating exhibition of original artworks from each graduate’s year-long thesis or concentration investigation as part of their Advanced Placement Studio Art Major- Sculpture, Photography, Painting/Drawing, or Visual Communications. Beginning in 2022, the conservatory now offers programing for scholar-artists to dive into curation and installation work.

In addition to an immersive exhibition process, Visual Arts has built a curriculum that values a strong community-building skillset through new showcases, student-produced publications, field trips, fellowships, and off-campus exhibition opportunities. In 2023, the conservatory produced its first-ever school-wide Fall Juried Showcase, first annual Holiday Blizzar, and ChiArts’ first Pride Fest. The conservatory also hosted collaborative events/field trips with DePaul Art Museum, Wrightwood 659, and world-renowned violinist Hilary Hahn.

Expert Leadership

Headshot of Chris Lin

Chris Lin Dao-Heng is a ChiArts Visual Arts veteran, teaching in the conservatory since 2012. Mr. Lin has not only made an impact on 10 classes of Visual Arts scholar-artists, but has also taught courses in the Creative Writing Conservatory. After leading as Visual Arts Administrative Assistant for many years, Mr. Lin Dao-Heng was promoted to Department Head in 2022.

Mr. Lin is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Chicago, working in media including videos, comics, graphic design, puppetry, music, and installation. A major part of his art practice is related to language learning, immigration, humor, and vulnerability. Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors from the University of Victoria in 2005 and a Master of Fine Arts in Fiber and Material Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008. His visual art, short stories, and comic work have been published by the Chicago Architecture Center, Bailiwick, This Side of West, Fiction At Work, Shampoo, and ChiArts’ Levitate.

Student working on a sculpture during classwork

You make it possible

With your help, the ChiArts Foundation raises funds to provide tuition-free arts programs and opportunities for scholar-artists to flourish during and beyond high school.