Graduate Overview

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Born from textile traditions, the Fiber and Material Studies department encourages students to think both about and through materials, investigating technique and expanding the use of the medium.

Led by an impressive and diverse group of faculty that includes founders of contemporary work within the discipline, the Department of Fiber and Material Studies houses one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. Graduate students think about and work with fiber, cloth, print, construction, and other hand processes, while confronting new technology, computer-mediated experiences, and interdisciplinary study. Ideas and politics surrounding environment, labor, production, community-based projects, and context are of paramount importance to the department.

Research-Based, Concept-Driven

Graduate Fiber and Material Studies students explore materiality, research, and concept through in-depth advising with faculty of their choosing. This tutorial-based learning is augmented by Art History seminars that offer students the groundwork to engage with the history of the textile medium, as well as understand current developments in the field. Graduate Seminars include research presentations, critiques, and round-table discussions with visiting artists such as Ann Hamilton, Joyce Scott, Darrel Morris, Jenni Sorkin, Elissa Auther, and Lisa Anne Auerbach.

Some of the ideas and issues that are evident throughout the department include: the politics of craft and labor; matters of domesticity, ritual, and the construction of identity; and relationships between decoration and propaganda, repetition and gesture, public and private, function and application, and colonialism and indigenous forms. These concepts are investigated from a variety of perspectives, with students drawing from queer theory, feminist strategies, and narrative theory to inform and propel their creative practices.

Additionally, graduate students in the Fiber and Material Studies department give a one-hour public presentation each year of their studies, have significant opportunities for teaching assistantships, and organize lecture series and visiting critics programs.

Interdisciplinary Possibilities

In addition to disciplinary focus defined by the traditions of textile production, the Fiber and Material Studies department embraces interdisciplinary exploration, beginning with the varied expertise of its faculty. Graduate students are encouraged to take courses in other departments to explore and implement the techniques, traditions, and particular rigors of various disciplines in order to enrich and deepen their practices. Students may work with fiber-based materials while at the same time advising with Performance, Sculpture, or Art and Technology Studies faculty.

Graduate Studio Projects

A cornerstone of the SAIC graduate studio program is its focus on tutorially guided studio practice. Each semester, you will select from more than 100 graduate faculty advisors representing myriad disciplines, approaches, and intellectual positions. As the main component of your studies, MFA 6009: Graduate Projects allows you to develop your work with faculty who guide you through an informed dialogue around content, form, theory, and professional practice.

Fiber & Material Studies graduate site


Interested in learning more?

Continue to explore the SAIC Fiber & Material Studies department website to learn about our curricular offerings, faculty, students, and alumni, visit the Master of Fine Arts in Studio degree program for more detailed information, or schedule a tour.

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or