The Visual Art Institute's mission is to foster and preserve the creative voices of students by assisting them in exploring their imagination and artistic abilities through in-depth training, independent study, and experimentation in all aspects of visual art.
The vision of the Visual Art Institute is to provide exceptional visual art programs as a powerful tool in enhancing the educational experiences of the students we serve. Although our focus is on quality instruction in the visual arts, we hope participation in our programs will enhance all areas of our students' lives. We especially seek to reach out to under served youth from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Our ambition is to encourage excellence in their work and to develop positive mentor and peer relationships. We strive to accomplish this through giving them the opportunity to express themselves in a safe and nurturing creative environment, to work with traditional art media and new technology, to be instructed and mentored by dedicated professional artists from the community, and to interact with other youth interested in the arts. The desired outcome is to have students build life skills of problem solving, self-confidence, independent and critical thinking, and collaboration.
Stephanie Burn established Visual Art Institute in 1978. Stephanie started VAI after teaching art classes at Utah State University. During her experience teaching there she felt that college students had lost their ability to think creatively. VAI came as the result of her desire to teach children how to maintain and foster their creativity throughout their lives. Since the founding of the institute, thousands of youth have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of local working artists in the community in a variety of media. Within the first ten years, students began to be offered scholarships from top art schools from across the country. In I998, Bruce Robertson took over as Executive Director. That same year, VAI began working with public schools and offering tuition assistance to provide better access to low-income youth. By expanding these programs, services, and instruction to more youth, VAI has become an essential part of Salt Lake's art community. In 2005, VAI's media lab and art library was created. Many students earn local, state, and national awards, with many receiving scholarships and entrance into top universities and art schools throughout the country. 2008 marks VAI's 30th anniversary serving the community.