Fiber & Material Studies Department
The Department of Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is internationally renowned as a visionary program and one of the leading contemporary fiber arts education programs in the world. Research-based, concept-driven, and resolutely engaged with hands-on making, the program educates students to make ambitious, complex, and innovative contemporary art. The department’s historical mission and vision are anchored in feminist and queer politics of community, compassion and care, and our classes offer free materials to students to augment their learning free of worries about the cost of supplies.
Courses emphasize the creation of fiber and textiles within a contemporary art context, supported by historical traditions and current theoretical discourse. Students learn a vast range of techniques including weaving, textile construction, print, dye, collage, paper making, sewing, quilting, felting, knitting, crochet, spinning, embellishment, sculpture, installation, and performative approaches. With a footprint of over 15,000 square feet, our facilities are the largest in the country and feature a broad range of analog and digital equipment to support material-specific and transdisciplinary approaches to making.
History and Theory
Studio practice is contextualized and supported and through teaching that emphasizes histories that are deeply interwoven into the discipline. Students consider political, cultural, and formal themes and issues that have informed the field of fiber and material studies. These may include:
• Labor, economy, globalization, and production of textiles
• Sustainability, the environment, and climate change
• Colonization and decolonization
• New technologies
• Gender and transness
• Critical race studies
In addition to studio and classroom experiences, Chicago offers you a wealth of opportunities for studying Fiber and Material Studies within an art and cultural context.
Textile Resource Center
The Textile Resource Center (TRC) is a hands-on teaching/study collection and a curricular resource of over 450 textile objects and more than 2000 books. The TRC supports student learning about global textile histories and contemporary themes.
Mitchell Lecture Series
The curriculum is augmented with onsite lectures by prominent national and international artists and scholars thanks to The William Bronson and Grayce Slovett Mitchell Lectureship in Fiber and Material Studies.
The Art Institute of Chicago offers a comprehensive collection of textiles, fiber, and contemporary art. Other local resources include the Chicago Textiles Week, the Weaving Mill, and the Field Museum. Students also may visit artists' studios, museums, and gallery exhibitions.
© 2023 School of the Art Institute of Chicago; All Rights Reserved Artwork by Rivers (Qinnan Zhu)
37 S. Wabash Ave., room 901,
Chicago, IL 60603
Professor and Department Chair
Christine Tarkowski email@example.com
Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator
Jade Yumang firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Administrative Director
Aaron Kissman email@example.com
Kaitlyn Albrecht firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennie Bukowski email@example.com
Assistant Director of Facilities
Melissa Leandro firstname.lastname@example.org
Manager of Facilities
Kate Smith email@example.com