SDAI promotes multimedia art education through in- and after-school art programs, summer camps, and individualized youth art education initiatives. We hire practicing artists making important contributions to their fields who have also demonstrated a vested interest in the capacity of art to heal, inform, and empower young people. Our educators deploy creative, critical pedagogies and cultural competence to foster technical skill-building, critical analysis, and creative expression among a wide demographic of students. All programming adheres to the Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards and the Common Core State Standards developed by the California Board of Education.

Funding for youth art programs at SDAI is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the Windgate Charitable Foundation, The Sence Foundation, DPR Construction, The Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation, and the Dr. Seuss Foundation.

Teaching Artists Wanted



San Diego-based artist Cat Chiu Phillips used a variety of sewing and weaving techniques, including the use of plarn (yarn made from discarded plastic bags) to crochet large, abstract patterns to draw attention to the pollution created by plastic. Join Cat in this series of free, hands-on art making workshops, culminating in a community exhibition and installation at Westfield Horton Plaza.

I.  Fundamentals of Sewing Machine with Retro Objects

-Cassette Tape Wallets: July 9 and November 12 (10-12 pm)

Learn the basics of how to use a sewing machine then upcycle a cassette tape for daily use.  Transform an old cassette tape to a wallet, coin purse, or business card holder.

-VHS Tapes Clutch:  August 20 and October 8 (10-12 pm)

Introduction to basic sewing machine usage then transform a VHS tape to a clutch handbag. 

II.  Basic Crochet Techniques with Plastic Waste

-Plarn Wide Cuff Bracelets:  July 16 and September 10 (10-1 pm)

Learn basic crochet techniques and use recycled plastic bags to create wearable accessories.

-Plarn Wreaths: December 10

Use plastic bag discards to create an easy-to-make holiday wreath.

Wednesdays - Sewing Machine Open Studios at SDAI Project Space with Cat Chiu Phillips

July 13 (10-12 pm)

July 20 (10-12 pm)

August 10 (10 to 12 pm)

Marcy School
Expressive Arts with Disenfranchised Teens,Barrio Logan

San Diego Art Institute has collaborated with artist and licensed therapist Tish Sjoberg in a program serving young artists at Marcy School: an alternative high school and rehabilitation center.  Marcy School is a 100% Title 1 School with no funding for Arts Education.  Each student at Marcy has been diagnosed as emotionally disturbed and thus is unable to receive the guidance and instruction they require from a more traditional learning environment.

Because of the students’ special needs, SDAI and Sjoberg have designed programming that integrates art into Health Education lesson plans with a specific emphasis on emotional well being, self care, and safe and informed decision-making. Students learn to heal from and prevent eating disorders, addiction, suicide, and STDs utilizing healthy modes of expression to communicate their experiences. In the introductory session, continuous line drawing was presented as a method of releasing anxiety and restlessness. The drawings reflect students’ boundless energy and racing thoughts, embodied in a constructive—rather than destructive—way.  

We look forward to spending more time with these young artists, and continuing to cultivate empowerment through artistic development along with them.


San Miguel Elementary
Heal Through Art

San Diego Art Institute and UCSD Biology student Cindy Yang developed this program to integrate art into health and physical education lesson plans.  

In the interest of nurturing “health literate” students to make good nutrition choices and know the value of staying active, Heal Through Art teaches children the science behind why healthy living makes them feel better not just physically, but emotionally and intellectually as well.  

Concluding the program, HTA students hosted an exhibition in their cafeteria and worked together to create a mural installation for their final project. In both cases, the children were very proud to describe to their peers all of the things they had learned about nutrition and exercise (many took especial pride in educating students in grades above), as well as to demonstrate their newfound knowledge to teachers and families.  It was gratifying for students to step back and view the comprehensive body of work exhibited. While reflecting upon common threads of the lesson plan, many made insightful observations connecting their own work to that of the other artists.


Porter Elementary
Learning Through the Arts (formerly Young Audiences)
2015-2016 & 2016-2017

SDAI is proud to partner with San Diego Unified School District's Learning Through the Arts Title 1 Initiative to bring a long term arts integration residency to Porter Elementary School. The mission of the Title 1 Learning Through the Arts program is to transform school’s cultural climates through art instruction and engagement. San Diego Art Institute has placed professional artist Jesi Saucedo in 3rd grade classes at Porter Elementary where she engaged the students in dynamic art lessons that reinforced the concepts they learned in their concurrent language arts studies. The Learning Through the Arts Integration Program supports literacy, math and science strategies and is aligned with the National Core Art Standards, Common Core State Standards, and the Next Generation Science Standards.