Jake Silby

MFA in Photography at School of the Art Institute of Chicago

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My name is Jake Silby, and I am a Photographer / Artist living and working in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Recently, I was accepted into SAIC's MFA Photography program. This is an extraordinary opportunity to develop my career as an Artist and Educator.

A little bit of background...

In 2015, I graduated from Massey University with a first class honours degree in Design, majoring in Photography. After a lot of planning and saving, I then packed up and moved to New York for a year, splitting my time between working, internships and making and looking at art.

Upon returning to New Zealand, I realized I was ready to take my art education further, and decided to start investigating Masters Programs. Even though I had recently returned from the US, I felt drawn back, having an awareness of the reputation and quality of many of the MFA programs there. It's a path less travelled by New Zealanders, but I knew I wanted to try something challenging and different.

I decided to go all in, applying to many of the top programs in the country, some with acceptance rates as low as 2%. While rejection and the drawn out pain of being wait-listed are not fun, I did end up receiving a large package in the mail from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), inviting me to attend their MFA Photography program in August! Needless to say, I am very excited.


There are a multitude of reasons why I chose to apply to SAIC. An important one being its adjoining relationship with The Art Institute of Chicago. It is the second largest Museum in the USA, and in 2014 was voted the number one Museum in the world by users of travel website, TripAdvisor. The opportunity to have this amazing resource as an extension of the classroom is incredibly unique.

SAIC itself is also a very highly regarded institution, with its MFA Photography program being ranked 2nd in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, as well as being deemed "The most influential Art School in the United States" by Columbia University's Art Critics National Arts Journalism Survey.

The SAIC Photography department helps in producing artists whose work reassesses the limits of photography as a medium, and nurtures a conceptual approach to image making. My practice will be lifted and refined through intensive discussion and critiques between students, faculty and visiting artists and critics. I will have my own private studio space, and multiple exhibition opportunities. I have also been given two paid teaching assistant roles in undergraduate classes. In addition to this, all MFA students present two public lectures about their work.

What makes this so special?

This chance I have been given is truly remarkable. As well as obtaining an advanced degree from a highly respected school, I will also be able to build international connections with artists, educators, curators and critics, with my work receiving exposure that would be difficult to obtain here in New Zealand. The education I will receive at SAIC will allow me to become equipped with sophisticated practical and critical skills, enabling me to successfully pursue my dream of becoming a full time Artist and Educator.

Please help!

An opportunity this amazing comes with some daunting costs. The funds raised here will help go towards covering tuition and materials expenses. Ideally, I would like to raise $5,000, but anything that you can contribute to my inital goal will be hugely appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you're interested in viewing my work, please visit: www.jakesilby.com

And if you'd like to learn more about the school and the program, please visit: www.saic.edu